This post has been updated.
In 1953, Lester Hunt, Jr.--the son of Democratic Senator Lester Hunt--solicited gay sex from an undercover male cop at Lafayette Park and was subsequently arrested. The incident prompted two Republican pawns to embark on a blackmail plot, which led Hunt, Sr. to shoot himself in his Senate office the following year.
The events went on to inspire the novel and film Advise and Consent, but it was only recently that Hunt opened up to the media about his father's suicide. In Uniquely Nasty: The US Government’s War on Gays--a 30-minute documentary recently released by Yahoo! News journalist Michael Isikoff and the DC production firm Long Story Short Media--Hunt tells his side of the story. “[Michael] thought it was important for [Hunt] to finally have that opportunity,” says Jessica Stuart, founder of Long Story Short.
In the '50s and '60s, the American government took discriminatory actions against its gay citizens. Thousands were fired from their federal jobs after an executive order signed by President Dwight Eisenhower declared homosexuality a sexual perversion and an issue of national security. It was something “uniquely nasty” and worthy of a widespread employment purge. That language gave rise to the documentary's title.
“There’s a whole deleted history there that has been erased from the books,” Stuart says. Uniquely Nasty is an attempt to expose that history--and show how far the country has come, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to make same-sex marriage a nationwide right.
The team's research began with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's “sex deviates” program, which in 1951 ordered all FBI agents to identify homosexuals working in the federal government. More than 330,000 files were collected.
Most files, however, were destroyed in 1978, so the group relied on documents found by a gay rights group called the Mattachine Society, as well as those available through the National Archives and the Library of Congress. “The hardest part was having to bring 30 minutes of mostly destroyed material to life,” Stuart says.
So what does Stuart hope viewers will get from the documentary? "It’s important to be aware and understand all of this when we look at gay marriage today,” she says. “We realize how far we’ve come in the last 60 years, and how difficult the journey has been for gays leading up until now. We see how far we’ve come, but we also see how far we still have to go.”
Next, Stuart will work on a campaign with the Kaiser Family Foundation called We Are Family--emphasizing the importance of community support for all living with HIV. The production group will also produce a film in Zimbabwe about the country’s success in working towards the elimination of pediatric AIDS.
This post has been updated for clarification purposes: Zimbabwe has not yet eliminated pediatric AIDS, but is working towards it.
June 18, 6 PM, $12, E Street Cinema
The premise: Six brothers spent much of their upbringing locked up in a four-bedroom, public housing complex apartment in Manhattan, banned from venturing outdoors by their domineering father. They found refuge in movies, which became their way to connect with the outside world.
The Look of Silence
June 18, 6:30 PM, $12, E Street Cinema
June 20, 2 PM, $12, AFI Silver Theatre
The premise: Joshua Oppenheimer's 2012 film, The Act of Killing, took a look at the anti-communist executions of 1965 and 1966 in Indonesia, when an estimated 500,000 people were killed. Oppenheimer had the killers reenact their actions, resulting in twisted, surreal reproductions of the killings. (The film was nominated for an Academy Award.) Now Oppenheimer is back with a sequel: The Look of Silence, described as "horrifically gripping" as the first by the Guardian.
June 18, 3:15 PM, $10, AFI Silver Theatre
June 19, 8:30 PM, $12, E Street Cinema
The premise: A doctor in Michoacán leads an uprising against a vicious drug cartel. In Arizona, an American veteran bands together with a group to stop drug violence from crossing the border. Filmmaker Matthew Heineman gets incredible access for a tale about vigilantism, justice, and danger.
June 28, 2:30 PM, $10, E Street Cinema
The premise: Director Leslee Udwin made headlines back in March, when a court in Delhi issued an injunction against her film, reasoning its content could "cause a public outcry." Udwin interviews someone convicted in the 2012 Delhi gang rape and includes shocking statements from the rapists' defense lawyer, which shed light on the complexities of India's rape culture.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
June 18, 4 PM, $10, AFI Silver Theatre
June 20, 6 PM, $12, E Street Cinema
The premise: The Black Panthers provides an intimate look into the black nationalist group that armed itself and challenged policy brutality back in the '60s and '70s. Through interviews with leaders, members, and supporters, the doc explains how the party came to be--and what eventually led to its downfall.
The film's director, Stanley Nelson, will be honored at the 2015 AFI-Docs Guggenheim Symposium at the William G. McGowan Theater on June 19.
Grab a picnic basket and lawn chair: Outdoor movies have officially kicked off this summer. Check out details on screenings in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and visit DC Outdoor Films for additional venues. Movies start at sundown unless otherwise noted.
Marie Reed Elementary School Field
18th St. and California Ave., NW
June 9, 16, and 23
Upcoming films include Rich Hill, Whiplash, and The Bicycle Thief. Screenings start 30 minutes after sundown.
Follow @AdMoBID for updates.
200 M St., SE
Every Thursday through September 3
Watch Independence Day in time for July 4, or '80s classics like Back to the Future, The Princess Bride, and The Goonies.
Follow @CapitolRvrFront for updates.
9 Dupont Cir., NW
Grab a picnic basket and watch Madonna swing a bat on A League of Their Own. Film starts at 8:30 PM.
Follow @DupontFestival for updates.
Connecticut Ave. and K St., NW
Fridays through July 31, except July 3
This year's theme is "All Worked Up." Films include Anchorman on June 5, The Social Network on June 12, Nine to Five on July 10, and The Wedding Planner on July 31.
Follow @GoldenTriDC for updates.
1005 First St., NE
Every Wednesday through August 19
"Dance, dance, dance" is the motto behind NoMa's outdoor film series. Selections include Flashdance on June 17, Grease on July 1, and Footloose on August 12. Bonus: Food trucks such as Pho Wheels, Captain Cookie, and Arepa Zone make regular appearances.
Follow @NomaBID for updates.
L and First Sts., NW
July 7, July 21, and August 4
This family-friendly version of NoMa's Summer Screen features kid-centric films like Happy Feet Two, Rio 2, and The Princess and the Frog. The event begins at 7 PM with complimentary food and activities.
5200 Sherier Pl., NW
June 12, July 17, and August 14
Watch The Goonies on June 12, Raiders of the Lost Ark, on July 17, and The Princess Bride on August 14. Popcorn will be provided.
Check Palisades Citizens Association on Facebook for updates.
1309 5th St., NE
June 5, 12, 19, and 26
Movies begin at 8 PM at Union Market, where you'll have to fork over a $10 parking fee if you plan to watch from your car. Cyclists and pedestrians get in for free. The series starts tonight with Space Jam; future flicks include Jurassic Park, Pretty Woman, and Beverly Hills Cop.
Follow @UnionMarketDC for updates.
Norfolk and Auburn Aves., Bethesda
July 21 to 25
This five-day series includes screenings of Sixteen Candles, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Imitation Game, and Chef, which might make you surprisingly hungry.
Follow @BethesdaUP for updates.
Montpelier Arts Center
6600 Kenilworth Ave., Riverdale
July 15, July 29, and August 12
You have a choice of three flicks at this outdoor film series: Grease, The Book of Life, and Big Hero 6. Films begin at 8 PM.
MCPS Board of Education
850 Hungerford Dr., Rockville
August 21, 22, and 23
The party begins at 5:30 PM, with games, music, and food. Movies, including Interstellar and How to Train Your Dragon 2, begin at 8:30 PM.
165 Waterfront St., National Harbor
Sundays through September 27
Movies begin at 6 PM and are organized into different themes each month. Check out "Universal Smashes"--such as Space Jam, ET, and Martian Child--in June; "Jungle Adventure"--such as Jumanji and The Flintstones--in July; "Travel in Time"--including Back to the Future, parts one, two, and three--in August; and "Back to School"--Matilda, Monsters Inc., and James and the Giant Peach--in September.
Follow @NationalHarbor for updates.
1A Prince St., Alexandria
July 17 and 18
Catch How to Train Your Dragon 2 on Friday and X-Men: Days of Future Past on Saturday. Movies begin at 8:30 PM.
1015 N Quincy St., Arlington
August 6 and 13
Films begin at twilight and include Empire Records, as well as The Great Gatsby.
Follow @ArlingtonVALib for updates.
5875 Trinity Pkwy., Centreville
Saturdays in August
You better know the words to "Let It Go" for this drive-in series. Watch Frozen on August 15, or Paddington, The Sting, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and Big Hero 6 on other evenings. Movies begin at 7:30 PM.
Call 703-324-7469 for weather updates.
1851 S. Bell St., Arlington
Mondays through August 31
A selection of spy-inspired flicks will be shown during this series. Films include Argo, Mission Impossible (parts one, two, and three), Charlie Wilson's War, and The Bourne Identity series.
Follow @CCBID for updates.
Cherry Hill Park
312 Park Ave., Falls Church
August 14, 21, and 29
Help pick films by voting for your favorites starting July 1. Movies begin at 8:15 PM.
Follow @FallsChurchGov for updates.
Route 7 and Belmont Ridge Rd., Lansdowne
June 13 through August 8
Watch The Croods, The Goonies, and Monsters University during this family-friendly series. Movies begin at 6:30 PM.
NoVa's Mary Louise Jackson Amphitheater
6901 Sudley Rd., Manassas
June 5, 12, 19, and 26, July 11 and 25, August 8 and 22, September 12 and 26, October 10.
Watch Into the Woods, The Theory of Everything, The Boxtrolls, and more.
1609 Washington Plz., Reston
June 14, July 12, August 9, August 30
Four films are on deck: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, ET, West Side Story, and Jazz on a Summer's Day.
Strawberry Ln., Fairfax
Friday nights through September 4
Films begin at 7 PM and are organized thematically by month. In June, it's "movies that make grown adults cry"—including Rudy, Miracle, Father of the Bride, and Angels in the Outfield.
Follow @MosaicDistrict for updates.
1300 Lee Hwy., Rosslyn
Fridays through August 28
Films start at dusk—usually at about 8:30 or 9 PM—and include a selection of comedies, such as Wedding Crashers, Mean Girls, Anchorman, Clueless, and Zoolander.
Follow @RosslynVA for updates.
Formerly known as Silverdocs, this festival sponsored by the American Film Institute puts socially conscious documentaries in front of policymakers who might even do something about the subjects. After-parties, which have drawn the likes of Spike Lee and Al Gore, don’t actually require a hipster beard or a PhD for admission; the only must-haves are the festival’s app and a good pair of walking shoes for venue-hopping. Insider perk: Become a film screener (or volunteer) and attend for free.
When: June 17 through 21.
Where: Six screens in Penn Quarter, three at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring.
Bragging rights: Taxi to the Dark Side, Man on Wire, Searching for Sugar Man.
The 2011 murder of 91-year-old Georgetown socialite Viola Drath by her husband, Albrecht Muth, will get a cinematic treatement at the hands of actor Christoph Waltz, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Waltz will both direct the movie and portray Muth, the German fabulist who was convicted for Drath's murder in January 2014 and later sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Drath and Muth married in 1990, when she was 70 and he was 26. Besides the substantial age difference, their marriage turned heads in Georgetown for Muth's oddball antics, like marching down the sidewalks wearing military uniforms that seemed borrowed from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and claiming to be a general in the Iraqi army. (The Embassy of Iraq routinely denied Muth's claims.) Muth's trial was equally sensational, with psychiatrists repeatedly reversing the ruling of whether he was fit to stand trial.
Waltz's movie is tentatively titled The Worst Marriage in Georgetown, after a 2012 New York Times Magazine article by Franklin Foer from which it will be adapted. Production is expected to begin this October. Waltz, 58, is best known to US audiences for his Oscar-winning roles in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. He is also set to appear this year in Spectre, the latest James Bond film in which he plays "Oberhauser," a villain who may or may not actually be Ernst Stavro Blofeld. (But definitely is Blofeld.)
1. Another State of Mind, 1984
American Hardcore, 2006
Dogtown and Z-Boys, 2001
Salad Days, 2014
Bad Brains: A Band in DC, 2012
We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen, 2005
Barbershop Punk, 2010
Punk's Not Dead, 2007
We Who Wait: The Adverts & TV Smith, 2012
Breadcrumb Trail, 2014
The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, 2015
It's Gonna Blow!!!: San Diego's Music Underground 1986-1996, 2014
Riot on the Dance Floor, 2014
D.I.Y. or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist, 2002
Positive Force: More Than a Witness, 2014
Foo Fighters Sonic Highways, 2014
Let Fury Have the Hour, 2012
21. I Need That Record! The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store, 2008
There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, but only a small percentage have been tested for safety. Since 1975, breast cancer rates have jumped 30 percent. Over the last half-century, chemical use has spiked by 2,000 percent. If these numbers give you a jolt, you’re not alone. And they're just a sampling of the startling figures in the upcoming documentary, The Human Experiment, which features actor Sean Penn as an executive producer and narrator.
Filmmakers Don Hardy and Dana Nachman were shocked when they learned about the wide array of toxic chemicals lurking in seemingly innocuous household goods, such as water bottles, sofas, and even pajamas.
“If you’re coming to this issue without really knowing much about chemicals, it’s a gut punch,” Hardy says. In the film, the duo explores the many illnesses linked to the modern chemical revolution and reveals how often these substances come into contact with the human body.
The directors traveled the country culling stories of anti-toxics activists, who are pushing for corporate action and increased regulations from Washington. “I thought that was what the EPA and the FDA were for, that’s what their job was: to protect the public,” Hardy says. The documentary makes it clear that may not necessarily be the case. Penn narrates how lawmakers treat chemicals just like they treat criminals: “innocent until proven guilty.” The film also claims gaps in toxics legislation have made chemical regulation and testing difficult to implement.
These chemicals are everywhere—and in everything. Triclosan, an antibacterial linked to thyroid disruption, is found in soaps and all-purpose cleaners. Bisphenol-A (BPA)—that ubiquitous acronym found in plastics and the linings of food cans—mimics estrogen in the human body, potentially affecting your hormonal system. Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo once had the carcinogen formaldehyde in it. Toxic chemicals like these can be difficult to avoid—especially because of lax labeling requirements.
The Human Experiment hopes to educate consumers about the harms of toxic chemicals and push them to “switch to safer" goods. A full list of "safe" products can be found on the documentary's website. “It doesn’t have to be the ultimate clean product, but let’s just do something a little better than we did last year and find community that can help us get there,” Nachman says.
The documentary traverses chemical and political history, linking how the tobacco and lead industries defended their products in the past to how brands using potentially toxic chemicals defend their products today. Hardy and Nachman argue chemical lobbyists and companies have been able to keep dangerous compounds in goods through a vicious combination of politicking and funding biased scientific research. Still, the duo did their best to dodge the doomsday environmental documentary trope by ending the film on a positive note. “When we first started this movie there were a couple products on a shelf that you could buy that you would feel okay with—now there’s full shelves, full aisles,” Nachman says. “Change is happening.”
The movie’s release coincides with the 45th Earth Day on April 22. AMC Hoffman in Alexandria will play The Human Experiment beginning April 17.
No American president has ever matched the iconographic ethos of Abraham Lincoln. History wouldn't be the same without his face; it's etched onto the five dollar bill, Mount Rushmore, and a towering memorial.
An HBO documentary called Living With Lincoln, which premiered Monday at 9 PM ET, looks into the significance of his imagery. Peter Kunhardt, who directed the film and worked on it alongside sons George and Teddy, narrates his family's obsession with Lincoln photographs. Lincoln was the most photographed man of the 19th century, and the Kunhardt family came to hold hundreds of those photos.
Their collection began over a century ago with Kunhardt's great-grandfather, Frederick Hill Meserve, whose father met Lincoln after the Battle of Antietam in 1862. Years later, Meserve started amassing the President's photographs. "Photography was only taking off the in late 1850s and 1860s, so [Meserve's] timing was ideal," Kunhardt says. "Lincoln had a very good sense of self-promotion in knowing he needed it in his political career. He purposely sat down for lots of photographs. Other people just weren't doing it in those days to the degree he was."
"[Lincoln] was the man about town, certainly during the Civil War, in Washington," says James Barber, a historian from Alexandria who curates exhibits at the National Portrait Gallery. "He would walk down to photography galleries and sit for a few photographs. He liked doing this. It was a chance for him to chat with a photographer. It was a way for him to slow things down."
Meserve went on to consult on Lincoln's likeness for his memorial. He also contributed the portraits used to etch Lincoln onto the five dollar bill, the penny, and Mount Rushmore. "There was a fervor about memorializing him," Kunhardt says. "[Meserve] was the one they turned to to get a clear image of what Lincoln looked like. He was a conduit through which research was done."
He eventually brought together a staggering collection of Lincoln memorabilia. The Yale Beinecke Library recently purchased 68,000 images, in addition to thousands of prints, books, maps, and other documents. Barber helped the Kunhardts develop a numbering system to organize their collection. (The Portrait Gallery currently houses 5,000 glass plate negatives purchased from the Kunhardt family.)
Living With Lincoln delves into the President's fascination with portraiture but also centers on Kunhardt's grandmother's dedication to her father's Lincoln fixation, as well as her aspirations as a children's book author. Despite depression and the weight of what had become a familial duty, she held firm in her commitment to the collection.
"The [film's] message was bigger than Lincoln and bigger than our family," Kunhardt says. "At the core of this is life-work balance." For Barber, the endurance of Lincoln's legacy is as much about the President himself as it is about those who spent decades materializing it. "That's the one very interesting characteristic about the man: He wasn't handsome, and he wasn't much to look at, but he almost seemed to be fascinated by the photographic process," Barber says. "He was a man who was very concerned about how history would remember him."
Actor Steve Buscemi is helping to raise money for the documentary.By Emily Codik
America's first and only documented gang of gay and transgender youths started ten years ago in DC's Trinidad neighborhood, when a few ninth graders banded together and fought back against their bullies. Today, the gang--called the Check It--has more than 200 members, ages 14 to 22, who might wear lipstick and stilettos, but also carry weapons like knives and brass knuckles. Together, they combat the violence and hatred they've encountered growing up.
Their tale is the subject of an upcoming independent documentary produced by actor Steve Buscemi, alongside directors/producers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer. "They've had to band together out of necessity," Buscemi says of the gang in the film's trailer. "Instead of running away from the dangers that they face daily, they decided to fight back."
That fighting spirit is exactly what drew Flor and Oppenheimer to the story. They first came across the gang when they were filming another DC flick--the Nine Lives of Marion Barry, which aired in 2009 on HBO. They met local activist Ron Moten while making that film; Moten told the producers about the Check It and arranged a pow-wow with members at the Denny's on Bladensburg Road in Northeast. At the meeting, Flor and Oppenheimer realized they had come across an extremely important tale. "We knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime story," Flor says. "Their personal stories were totally unique."
These kids have faced discrimination throughout their entire lives. Members tell stories of being stabbed or shot. Some have served time in juvenile detention centers; others were born to mothers addicted to crack. "Just being black you have a lot of odds against you," Moten says in the film's trailer. "Being gay and black... it's like a nightmare waiting to happen."
The gang members joined together to defend and support each other; but for the filmmakers, that tight-knit bond at first proved difficult to infiltrate. The partners began working on the film three years ago, gradually immersing themselves in gang members' lives. "These are kids who have been let down by everybody in their life," Flor says. "In order to have a relationship, you have to assert them that you're for real, that you're not going to go away."
The documentary will not only go into the challenges members face, but also depict their dream of launching a fashion line. Now in the editing stage, Flor and Oppenheimer have launched an Indiegogo campaign to finance finishing their film. Ten percent of the funds will go directly to the gang's fashion line and help them purchase fabric and sewing machines.
The duo hopes to release the film this fall, but to do so, they need the community's support. The campaign, which has less than three days to go, has raised about $50,000. "We need as much support as humanly possible," Flor says. "It's an amazing story that really needs to be told."
March offers several film festivals, encompassing everything from internationally acclaimed documentaries to locally produced shorts. Here are four to keep on your radar:
This year's festival goes on thanks in part to a $15,000 contribution from the National Endowment for the Arts. More than 150 films, including several DC, US, and world premieres, examine climate change, endangered wildlife, clean-water issues, and related topics. A highlight: Filmmaker Luc Jacquet presents a survey of his films, including the Oscar-winning March of the Penguins and Ice & Sky, a new work. March 17-29; selected films $10 to $12, others free.
Opening night, Theater J; other screenings, Angelika Mosaic
See 16 contemporary films focused around the Jewish faith or made by Israeli artists. Top picks include The Green Prince, a thriller based on the memoir of Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian who spied for Israel; Arlo & Julie, a quirky tale of a couple who become obsessed with the mysterious daily delivery of puzzle pieces to their doorstep; and Above and Beyond, about the early days of the Israeli Air Force. March 19-29; $12; festival pass $64.
Filmmakers from the Washington area will be around to answer questions after their five short films at this festival, making it an excellent chance to familiarize yourself with local talent. Be sure to catch The Stillbrave 100, which chronicles Springfield runner "Tattoo" Tom Mitchell as he completes a 100-mile trail, dedicating each mile to a different child with cancer. March 20-21; $10.
Catch 70 documentaries, narratives, and shorts, plus Q&As and panel discussions. Don't miss the searing Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing, in which members of an Indonesian death squad reenact the murders they committed. March 26-29; $12; festival pass $105.