South by Southwest: home of the queer documentary

Who I Am Not. Photo courtesy of SXSW.

From “Portrait of Jason” and “The Queen” in the late 1960s, to the landmark ’70s film “Word Is Out,” the documentary is where real queer stories usually get told first. It’s a tradition that continues to the present day, and film festivals like South by Southwest that showcase independent cinema are where they often make their bow. This year’s SXSW is no exception, and two international documentaries premiering there have the potential to capture American audiences’ attention. “Who I Am Not,” from Romanian filmmaker Tünde Skovrán, focuses on a young intersex activist and the resistance met by people who don’t fit neatly within a gender binary. Meanwhile Agniia Galdanova’s film “Queendom” follows queer Russian artist Gena as they protest the government with provocative performance, acts that often put their life in danger. These two films will probably make the film festival rounds, so keep your eyes peeled for other dates and locations.

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez starts a ‘Wildfire’

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez.

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, the Emmy-nominated heart and soul of “Pose,” is about to make her mark on the big screen. Of course, she’s appeared in theatrically released films already, but with “Wildfire,” she’ll be a lead, playing a transgender character. With a producer in “American Idol” vet Randy Jackson, and a script by rising screenwriter Chaya Doswell, “Wildfire” is the story of an unlikely friendship. A 7-year-old girl named Lu, who is mute and also living with abusive family, accidentally starts a wildfire, and then maneuvers Rodriguez’s character into unwittingly kidnapping her. Why? Well, that’s what second and third acts in scripts are for, so the rest of the plot is under wraps. It’s early in the process, so look toward 2024 for this one to arrive in front of audiences, and more information here as casting continues.

Noah Schnapp stalks ‘The Tutor’

Noah Schnapp in “Stranger Things”. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

It used to be that if a movie had the word “tutor” in the title, that film was inevitably a slightly naughty ’80s teen-sex comedy one would consume at a drive-in theater. But that was long ago and far away. Here comes “The Tutor,” and the teenagers are out for blood. “Stranger Things” star Noah Schnapp – who recently came out as gay – stars as an obsessive, disturbed young man determined to wreck the life of a professional tutor (Garrett Hedlund) and expose his secrets. The thriller directed by Jordan Ross (“Thumper”) has a script by Ryan King, and the film co-stars Victoria Justice (“Victorious”) and Jonny Weston (“Benjamin”). Looking forward to this one, if for no other reason than to watch Schnapp stretch his acting wings, get maniacal and aggressive, and leave the sweet and soulful Will Byers behind.

Indya Moore dives deeply into DC

Indya Moore

Indya Moore is moving into the watery world of Aquaman. The “Pose” star will next be seen in 2023’s “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” from director James Wan, alongside fellow cast Jason Momoa, Ben Affleck, Patrick Wilson and Nicole Kidman. Of course, how much of Moore we see will depend on a variety of special effects elements, since she’s playing a radiation-mutated humanoid shark. Karshon the Tiger Shark (whose origins go back to “Green Lantern” comics, fyi) will be part of the next chapter of Aqua-lore, and Moore will at least give voice to the character. Will Karshon be a villain? We’re hoping so, really, because wicked characters are always more fun, and they never actually go away for good, sometimes returning even after they’ve been killed off in an earlier story. And besides, Aquaman can handle another nemesis; he’s a superhero and that’s his job. Settle in and wait, though, because the movie opens in 11 months from now in December.

Romeo San Vicente’s secret superhero identity is Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.”

Romeo San Vicente would very much like a brunch left at his front door and would tip big for it.