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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

REVIEW: Maybelle S01E01 - The Death Card

by Lauren W

*obvious spoiler alert*

It's been a while since I delved into a new lesbian web series, so where better to start than at tello Films; the home of online lesbian content?

As a long-term fan of Bridget McManus, I decided to give her new series a go.


The plot of Maybelle (from what I've gathered from the first episode alone) revolves around a young woman, somewhere in the deep south of America, who is suddenly reunited with a past love.

Episode 1 doesn't give too much away in terms of the exact history of these two women, but it tells you just enough: they were in high school together, and things were a little more than friendly.

The chemistry between Bridget and her co-star, Fran Nichols (starring as Della), is evident almost immediately. Neither of them say a word about their past relationship, but anyone with two eyes and a brain can tell something romantic is - or was - going on there.


As I previously mentioned, it has been a long time since I ventured into new web series waters, and the first thing that pleasantly surprised me about Maybelle was the stunning cinematography.

Gone are the low budget days of the shaky, handheld, low quality cameras that haunted lesbian content for years. Maybelle almost has an air of Amazon Prime's series Transparent about it. I'm not sure whether its the filters used or the way things are framed - or a little of both - but something about this web series seems hyper-realistic; as if you're right in there with the characters. 

Of course, the first episode is more of a set-up to the series, so there isn't much in the way of plot (Maybelle's mother passes away, and one thing leads to another until she ends up on Della's front porch - no pun intended), but it is a lovely start.

Lastly, I must mention the calibre of McManus' acting thus far. As someone who is mostly used to seeing Bridget performing stand-up, this was a different side of her that I wasn't expecting. She plays Maybelle with the right amount of grace and excited whimsy: my favourite moment was the micro-expressions on her face when she was having her first conversation with Della in 15 years, followed by a subtle sniff of her shoulder when they first embraced. Little details like this are a testament to McManus' nuanced acting.

If the rest of the series continues to impress me like this first episode did, I'd definitely recommend it.

Stay tuned for my review of episode 2!

Maybelle is available at https://www.tellofilms.com/

View the trailer here:

Monday, 18 April 2016

AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER JD DISALVATORE DEDICATES THE REST OF HER LIFE TO SAVING DOGS


TERMINALLY ILL AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER JD DISALVATORE 
DEDICATES THE REST OF HER LIFE TO SAVING DOGS



Los Angeles, CA - Award winning  filmmaker JD Disalvatore was diagnosed with stage iv cancer four years ago, but that hasn't slowed down her activism or filmmaking.  Now combining both endeavors, she is dedicating her time and talents to the movement to make Los Angeles a no-kill city, and is making a documentary about the fight called “How To Save a Dog”.   
  
We save their lives, but these (rescued) dogs or cats change ours!
The indiegogo campaign was launched to raise money for the production of the documentary and can be viewed at:https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/how-to-save-a-dog#/

How to Save A Dog is a feature documentary project that provides a compelling inside look at what it takes to rescue animals in America.   

Cats and dogs are considered family members in America, yet millions are killed every year just because they are unwanted.

In Los Angeles, the rescue community has been working on a movement to make the city "no kill" - which means that no animals would be euthanized for space.  This seems like a monumental goal for any city,  yet currently we're close to the tipping point where this actually could be attainable.  

In addition to the feature documentary, 20-30 educational internet videos will be made for social media to educate and engage anyone interested in helping make our nation "no-kill".  These videos will be directed by an award winning documentary filmmakers and will cover various subject matters from "How To Become at Dog/Cat Foster" to "How to Introduce Your new Cat or Dog to your other Pets."

Now is the time for everyone who cares to get involved. This documentary will take you on that journey.   

And the short videos will engage more to join in the fight.

"When I started volunteering at my local animal shelter, I didn't know the first thing about animal rescue," says Disalvatore, who has won over fifty awards from film festivals around the world with her work,  " As in any revolution or triage situation, you have  hundreds of people in so many different capacities working together (and sometimes at odds) to rescue, foster, transport, groom, train, rehabilitate and find homes for the millions of unwanted dogs & cats in America.  I was not only captivated by the ingenuity, bravery and gumption of the rescuers, but also completely sucked into the world of the animals themselves.  I feel compelled to share that with everyone.  Especially people that are interested in helping." 

How to Save  a Dog will paint an intimate portrait of one city shelter and chronicle their efforts to save animals, along with the large rescue organizations and the small rescue people that fight for dogs and cats everyday. 

There is a lot of overlap between the LGBT community and the rescue world.  

“I think it’s not hard for us to imagine what it’s like to be lonely or unwanted,” adds Disalvatore.
With that in mind, the documentary will also feature two lesbian dog rescuers who run their own 503/c rescues out of their homes: Natalie Garcia of MaeDay Rescue and Kristen Rosiar from Pardon the Pups. 

There are things everyone can do... from as simple as donating old blankets to local shelters, to sharing a dog’s shelter photo, or not letting their cat have kittens!”.  People connect with what they see and what touches them emotionally, and a well produced video is a touchstone for getting new people in the community involved in the no-kill movement.

Having been diagnosed with terminal Stage IV cancer four years ago, Disalvatore never slowed down and even amped up her volunteer time at her local LA City Animal Shelter.  
Disalvatore is determined to see this done before she dies of cancer.

Squee...


MORE ABOUT JD DISALVATORE:

Disalvatore has been very active in LGBT film and advocacy. She has been a mentor for Point Foundation, and co-chaired the major donor lesbian committee for Outfest, as well as serving as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Frontiers Foundation.   In 2014, Disalvatore co-hosted the local NBC coverage of the West Hollywood CSW Gay Pride Parade, and has been a frequent co-host on The Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius/XM.  She has moderated panels on queer film for the Writers Guild of America, Power-Up, Outfest and The Butch Conference.  She has written on LGBT issues for Curve, Frontiers, Clout, Planet Out and Gay Wired.  Disalvatore received the LACE Award from the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, as well as the Tom Thom Award at Outfest in addition to a GLAAD Award for Shelter.  



Saturday, 16 April 2016

SAFFRON, Lead Singer of REPUBLICA, Announced for L Fest 2016

It's certainly a good Friday in L Fest HQ as we can now announce that our second L Fest act to be released for L Fest 2016 is Saffron, the lead singer of Republica, who will headline the main stage on Saturday July 16th.


Formed in the early 90's, Republica achieved sales of over 3 Million Albums going Top 5 in the UK, US and Europe and achieving Platinum Sales Worldwide. The track ‘Ready To Go’ went to No. 1 in 18 countries and has been featured in Hollywood movies, TV Shows and in International advertising campaigns.‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ was used as the theme to ‘Scream’, the Wes Craven Horror Movie and ‘Beauty Never Fades’ by Junkie XL ft. Saffon reached No. 1 in Poland.

Saffron has performed vocals for The Prodigy's "Fuel My Fire", worked with The Cure, appearing on the single "Just Say Yes" from their Greatest Hits album and she also collaborated with Junkie XL for his 2003 album

This is the second act L Fest has released after the popular announcement of Heather Peace who will headline the festival on 
Sunday July 17th
.

Festival Director Cindy Edwards commented " We are delighted to add Saffron to the Line up as she is such a strong female singer songwriter and a great gay icon from the 90's. She has been so supportive of our work that I can't wait to work alongside her in promoting the festival. She has sold millions of albums worldwide so to get her at L Fest is fantastic. She will be performing with front woman of Auxesis Mel Sanson and I cannot wait for them to rock the stage on Saturday16th!

We are currently selling second tier tickets at £99, but these are expected to sell out within the next month as we saw a huge rise in sales after the Heather Peace announcement. The next tier price will be £110, and £120 on the door so the sooner you buy the more discount you get.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Lesbian Filmmaker MARINA RICE BADER Helps To Fill the Gender Wage Gap

MARINA RICE BADER’S AVA’S IMPOSSIBLE THINGS ANNOUNCED AS VIMEO’S FIRST 2016 

“SHARE THE SCREEN” FILMMAKER INVESTMENT


“Share the Screen”, launched at Sundance, is Vimeo’s new initiative they hope will help close the gender gap that is so pervasive in the entertainment industry.  Vimeo intends to foster equality by investing in female-led programming, educational workshops, meet-ups, interviews, and more that spotlight and support female voices in the Vimeo community.

On March 8, Vimeo announced the acquisition of Ava’s Impossible Things, from writer/director Marina Rice Bader as part of its “Share the Screen” investment in emerging female filmmakers.  “I love Vimeo’s ‘Everyone is welcome, come be part of our vibrant community, create your vision and share it with the world’ mentality”, says Bader, who’s Anatomy of a Love Seen was released on Vimeo the day after it’s world premiere at Outfest in 2014.

Bader is the CEO and Founder of Soul Kiss Films, an independent company dedicated to producing evocative, entertaining, and compelling movies by women, for women and about women.  Ava’s Impossible Things is the fifth project from SKF, following Elena Undone (2010), A Perfect Ending (2012), Anatomy of a Love Seen (2014) and Raven’s Touch (2015).


For More information go to: http://soulkissfilms.com/

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Most Star-Studded DINAH SHORE WEEKEND in History!


PALM SPRINGS, CA - There are absolutely no words to encapsulate what happened at the 2016 Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend. To say that the event gave enough reasons to experience a severe case of FOMO is to put it mildly. Pulling all the stops, the event was not just epic, but was also pure magic.

The famed weekend was filled with unique moments, exceptional firsts, unforgettable milestones, and unexpected surprises that made up for one of the most surreal and mind-blowing Dinah ever.

The legendary Palm Springs’ signature event defied all expectations on so many different levels. From Kate Moennig and Camila Grey (aka The X-Names) giving an exclusive surprise performance Friday night, to Golden Globe winner and international pop icon Lady Gaga making her unexpected return to The Dinah enjoying a little fun in the sun at the Saturday Cabana Pool Party with buddy Samantha Ronson, one thing for certain is that you never know what extraordinary thing might happen at The Dinah.

There are plenty of good reasons to want to experience The Dinah, be it the massive pool parties, the star-studded red carpet soirees, the top-notch live concerts by established performers and fast-rising newcomers, the celebrity sighting, or the hottest DJs and dancers around the world. But while The Dinah might represent different things for everyone, the one common thread is its unique ability to bind us all together as one big family and organically impart a sense of solidarity and normalcy.

“The message is always the same: Here’s a space for you to celebrate your life, live out loud, and simply love,” says Mariah Hanson, founder and producer of Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend.


The empowering effect of the event was already palpable in its stellar entertainment roster led by a strong and diverse presence of kick-ass female artists such as celebrity DJs Samantha Ronson, L Word iconic star, Kate Moennig & UH HUH HER’s lead singer Camila Grey (who together form The X-Names), newcomer JoLivi, and one of Rap’s most vocal and lyrical MC’s,  Angel Haze.  And if “girl power” was the flavor of the weekend, the color du jour at The Dinah was certainly orange with Orange is the New Black stars DJ Taryn Manning (Tiffant “Pennsatucky” Doggett) spinning at the Sunday Pool Party and comedian Lea DeLaria (Big Boo) headlining the comedy show Saturday night.


It was a weekend of high-energy performances whether singing in front of a mic or spinning records behind the turntables.

Perpetuating the rise of women and now transgender DJs behind the decks, the Dinah put an extra focus on trail-blazing DJs with a diverse group of incredibly talented tastemakers who more than hold their own in this boy’s club: Dj Amara, DJ Asha, DJ Lezlee, DJ Angie Vee, DJ Automaton, Citizen Jane, DJ GoodBoy, DJ M.O., DJ Val G, and Leah V.

Also in attendance were some of our LGBT community’s most influential Youtubers including: ElloSteph, Arielle Scarcella, Ari Fitz, Ambers Closet, Bria And Chrissy, It’s Ally Hill, Shannon and Cammie, and Life of Bly.



Another smash hit at this year’s Dinah Shore Weekend was the Hot as L Pool Party hosted in association with Showtime - a Dinah exclusive.  Saluting a memorable era in lesbian culture, the event reunited some of the iconic series’ beloved actors including Clementine Ford, Elizabeth Keener, Tracy Ryerson, Amanda Leigh Dunn and Hunter Valentine who performed their farewell show to thank the fans for one hell of an amazing ride.

And while the Dinah was the all-female punk rock band’s scheduled last stop, it also marked pop music’ s new “it” girl’s first ever concert.World famous cover girl and super model Madison Paige gave an emotional but absolutely formidable first live concert on Sunday officially debuting her music career at Dinah. 

Yes, The Dinah 2016 was the most star studded Dinah Shore Weekend in history. But above it all, it was the most profoundly transformative and empowering Dinah EVER.


“I keep on hearing how this was the best Dinah yet, which of course puts a huge smile on my face.  I'm proud of my staff. They all execute the administrative part of the weekend with such grace even when under pressure. Of course, I’m also grateful and thankful to our incredibly wonderful and appreciative customers who remind us of exactly why we do what we do.  The magic of The Dinah is undeniable and irreplaceable, “ says Mariah Hanson. “I'm so moved and touched, I am already planning for next year  -- bigger and better!”

###
Tickets to The Dinah 2017 go on sale July 1, 2016 at www.TheDinah.com

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The "Bury Your Gays" Trope: Is Person of Interest our Last Hope?

by Lauren W

***TRIGGER WARNING: It has been bugging me for some time now that I haven't taken to All Things Lesbian to voice my thoughts about the "Bury Your Gays" trope. Please note that this post may contain some images that could disturb some readers both mentally and emotionally, and death is mentioned more than once. Of course, there are also major spoilers from hereon in. You have been warned.***


If you haven't been living under a rock for the past two months, you'll have heard of the outrage sparked by the loss of our beloved Heda, Clarke's gal pal, and the Commander of the Thirteen Clans, Lexa kom Trikru (played by Alicia Debnam-Carey on The 100).

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa in The 100

Losing yet another lesbian character from our already tiny percentage of television lesbians hurt some people so much that they contemplated suicide, threatened the creator of the show (Jason Rothenberg) and stopped watching The 100 altogether.

In fact, after the death of Lexa, we averaged around one lesbian charatacer death per week, two of which include Denise from The Walking Dead (played by the fabulous Merritt Wever) and Empire's Mimi (Marisa Tomei). And there are more. Many more. (Click HERE for an almost complete list of lesbian character deaths by AutoStraddle).

Alanna Masterson (Tara) and Merritt Wever (Denise), The Walking Dead.
The sad truth is, even the most LGBT-positive shows are not even immune to this damaging trope - think Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Trish from Orange is the New Black, and The L Word's Dana Fairbanks, to name but a few.

What is perhaps most soul-enraging is the fact that heterosexual fans feel like they can chime in with things like "yeah but, everyone dies, it's just a fact of life", or "you wanted to be treated equally, didn't you?"

The truth, unfortunately, is that we're not being treated equally at all. The facts show that for the 18,000+ straight characters on TV, there has been a total of 383 lesbian or bisexual female characters. And guess how many of those characters remained alive at the end of the series in which they appeared? 20%. TWENTY FUCKING PER CENT. How many died? 31%.

And the other 50%, you ask? 28% of them were merely guest stars and had no real storyline to end their character arc at all. 10% were written off completely - they didn't die, but they were no longer visible. The last 10% had happy endings. 10%. Wow. (Click HERE for the source of these figures).

Amber Benson as Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now you have a little bit of background on the whole issue, I'd like to point you toward one show that has not played to any of these tropes thus far: Person of Interest.

I could explain the show in full detail and fangirl over it's entire premise, but many a lesbian watches the show for one thing only: it's LGBT couple, Root and Shaw (played by Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi respectively).

Shahi (left) as Shaw and Acker as Root.
You may recognise them from shows such as Angel and The L Word (oh, Carmen), but when they got together on Person of Interest, angels came down from heaven and celebrated in a wine-filled frenzy.

In the show, Root and Shaw fight crime together and flirt shamelessly. When there was an initial hint that a relationship was on the cards for these two, many fans were (not surprisingly) worried that the whole thing would turn into one big queerbaiting disappointment, and Shaw would end up with the show's male protagonist anyway. But it was not so.

Just before the end of season 4, Sarah Shahi's character sacrificed herself to save Root and her friends, right after she planted a big ol' smacker on her girlfriend's lips.

And lesbians everywhere applauded... And cried.
Of course, sacrificing one's life generally comes with some side effects, which include death. Sigh. Another lesbian/bisexual death on TV for us all to rage about...

But wait! There was hope! Shahi left only for maternity leave, and it was revealed that her character survived! I know, right? You don't believe me. A bisexual female character on television survived.

When the show returns next month, it will be it's last season. I have never been more upset about the loss of a TV show since Buffy ended in 2003, but I digress.

Since the announcement of the air date for Person of Interest season 5 (it's May 3rd, by the way), fans of "Shoot" and indeed other fandoms have been worried about the fact that it may kill one of them off at the end of the series.

Is this a threat or is it just foreplay? You decide.
Of course, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up. The show has been known to kill off some of its major players before (see Taraji P. Henson's Joss Carter), and the subject matter of Person of Interest means that all of its characters are often on the brink of death.

However, this show is yet to let us down. It lived up to its promise that it was not interested in queerbaiting, and that Root & Shaw are canon. It brought Shaw back from the dead, so to speak, and gave us a character with a serious personality disorder who is portrayed in a generally positive light. It treats its people of colour with respect, and gives them personality that is not defined only by their race. It gives us non-heterosexual characters that are not only about their sexuality, and they are not made to look like outsiders because of who they love.

What I'm saying is, we should hold on to hope for Person of Interest. When you compare it to shows such as Pretty Little Liars, which has killed off pretty much all of its black and LGBT characters, (R.I.P. Maya, Nate, Shana, CeCe, etc) POI has a pretty good track record (Carter notwithstanding). The 100 is twice as bad as most of the main offenders, as just weeks after the death of Lexa came the death of one of the show's few people of colour, Lincoln (played by Ricky Whittle).

Taraji P. Henson as Carter, Person of Interest
So is Person of Interest our only (current) hope for a happy lesbian ending? Only time will tell. It is, so far, one of the few remaining shows on television that has not killed off one of its LGBT characters. All we can hope is that it stays that way.

In the meantime, you can catch up with POI on Netflix if you are in the USA or the UK. Trust me, it's so, so worth your time. I can't stress that enough.

Person of Interest returns to CBS for one last season on Tuesday, May 3rd at 10pm, with episodes twice a week on Mondays and Tuesdays from May 9th onwards.

Friday, 18 March 2016

NEW Music Video from ANTIGONE RISING

ANTIGONE RISING 
RELEASES BRAND NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR “EVERYWHERE IS HOME” 
FROM THE SOUNDTRACK OF THE LESBIAN MOB COMEDY ALTO 


New York, NY - Antigone Rising (AR) has announced the release of the brand new music video for their song “Everywhere is Home” from the popular lesbian mob comedy feature film “Alto”.

The music video dropped March 9 on the band’s YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/9Q6ccJvmgA0

Alto is a quirky love story set in the midst of an unanticipated run-in with the NY mafia. 
It stars Diana DeGarmo, Natalie Knepp, David Valcin, Lou Martini, Jr., Melanie Minichino, and AR’s own Nini Camps.

Alto’s film producer Toni D'Antonio had produced the music video for the band’s massive hit “That Was The Whiskey”, and film director Mikki del Monico directed it.

As for the little behind-the-scenes story of the video: in the film, Diana DeGarmo sings lead with Nini Camps (who co-wrote the song with Daniel Tashian and plays best friend Kat) on background vocals.  This past month (February 2016), Antigone Rising took to the stage to sing their song, this time with Nini Camps where you can usually find her: on lead vocals. The music video uses both!

Antigone Rising continues to rise to the occasion fusing their success in the music industry with educating youth around the globe as Cultural Ambassadors to the United States Government. 

The band has successfully launched their own noprofit organization, Girl Bands Rock (www.GirlBandsRock.org) - to inspire and educate kids, especially young girls, that it's ok to think outside the box and pursue careers in non-traditional fields. They have partnered with school districts and youth centers all over the country to create innovative programming dedicated to building confidence in youth by developing leadership and creative skills through musical workshops, outreach programs and performances. 

For the all-female-boot-stompin'-alt-country-rock band ANTIGONE RISING, helping aspiring young artists while giving back to their community is something that comes second nature to a group that is helping to create music and history.

Best known for relentless touring and masterful musicianship, Antigone Rising played upwards of 280 shows a year in their early days. Whether it was an open mic on a Monday night or a jam packed New York City hometown show, the ladies and their infamous Vanna White (the band's beloved 15 passenger van) eventually blazed a trail straight to arenas alongside some of the biggest names in rock history including The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Allman Brothers Band, The Bangles and Rob Thomas.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.girlbandsrock.org ; www.AntigoneRising.com