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Musical documentary 'Behind the Curtain' will kick off Damn These Heels

Published May 18, 2017 4:06 pm

14th annual • A Sundance winner among first films announced for Utah's LGBT film festival.
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One performer's dream is the backbone of the opening-night film at the 14th annual Damn These Heels Film Festival, the biggest LGBT film event in the Intermountain West.

The documentary "Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall" will have its Utah premiere to launch the festival, which runs July 14-16 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City. The announcement was made Thursday by the Utah Film Center, which puts on the festival.

The movie profiles Hall, an "American Idol" season 9 semifinalist and YouTube star who sets about creating a full-scale original musical, "Straight Outta Oz," based on his own experiences growing up gay and black in small-town Texas.

The film's director, Katherine Fairfax Wright, will attend the festival for a guided discussion after the Friday night screening.

The Utah Film Center also announced six more titles that will screen during the festival. More films, including the Centerpiece and Closing Night films, and event and special-guest details will be announced in June.

The movies are selected by a 24-member programming committee that includes Utah Film Center staff, community members and representatives from various organizations — including a teen committee from Utah Pride's Youth Activity Center.

Here are the six other films chosen for the Damn These Heels lineup, with synopses from the Utah Film Center:

"Free CeCe" (U.S.), directed by Jacqueline Gares • "CeCe McDonald survived a brutal attack, only to be incarcerated for defending her life. After an international movement to free her, CeCe emerged as a leader to interrogate the prison industrial complex and inspire women to fight back when attacked." Laverne Cox is the interviewer in this documentary.

"I Dream In Another Language" (Mexico/Netherlands), directed by Ernesto Contreras • "A young linguist travels to the jungle of Mexico to research a language on the verge of disappearing. Once there, he discovers its last two speakers clashed 50 years ago and have refused to speak to each other since. Attempting to reunite them, the researcher discovers a secret past — and a forbidden gay love story." The movie won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

"Political Animals" (U.S.), directed by John Markowitz and Tracy Wares • "A rousing documentary charting the unstoppable force of four lesbian legislators in California who've been fighting for LGBT rights and recognition for decades."

"Pushing Dead" (U.S.), directed by Tom E. Brown • "When a struggling writer, HIV-positive for 20+ years, accidentally deposits a $100 birthday check, he is dropped from his health plan for earning too much. In this new era of sort-of universal care, can he take on a helpless bureaucracy or come up with $3,000 a month to buy his meds on his own?" The cast includes James Roday, Robin Weigert, Danny Glover, Khandi Alexander and Tom Riley.

"Signature Move" (U.S.), directed by Jennifer Reeder • "A hilarious and heartfelt look at modern families and the complexities of love in its many forms." The cast includes Fawzia Mirza, Shabana Azmi, Sari Sanchez, Audrey Francis and Charin Alvarez.

"The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin" (U.S.), directed by Jennifer M. Kroot • "Celebrates one of the world's most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to reclaim their lives." —

Damn These Heels LGBT Film Festival

The 14th annual festival.

Where • Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City

When • July 14-16

Tickets • A "Film Lovers" package is $50, a "Film + Party" package is $75, and VIP packages go for $200, $300 and $500. (These prices available through June 6; then they go up.) Go to the event's website for information.






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