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This year's Kaleidoscope LGBT Film and Culture Festival -- which starts today and ends Aug. 18 at the Argenta Community Theatre and Gallery -- not only features Sundance award winners, but it also includes a fashion show, a street fair and a chance to see a beloved classic with fresh eyes.


The fashion show starts at 5 tonight at the Gallery and includes a talk, "Fashion and the Moving Image," which covers everything from Marlene Dietrich's iconic tuxedo from Morocco to Marlon Brando's easily ripped T-shirts in A Streetcar Named Desire. "It covers the history of fashion in cinema," says Tony Taylor, the festival's director.

"It's really a wonderful exhibit, but then there's a second part to it, 1681, which is a new clothing line that is going to be launching at Kaleidoscope, which is a collaboration between Michael Shaeffer of Little Rock and Andrea Bolen of San Diego. I haven't seen the whole thing put together, but it's really, really cool," Taylor says. Shaeffer currently runs House of Shaeffer and is an instructor at the Arkansas Arts Center.


The Queer Arts Street Fair starts Saturday at noon and ends at 6 p.m. Admission is free, but a $5 donation at the gate is appreciated. The event is pet- and family-friendly and includes local crafts, food trucks, craft beer from Flyaway Brewing, a water balloon fight, a dunking booth and a performance from the Arkansas Circus Arts & Moonstone Mermaids.

"We're dealing with makers and artists of all different kinds," Taylor says. "Those are our die-hard audience, and we just wanted to come up with a way of showcasing their creativity."


With a quartet of Oscars, there's no debating that Elia Kazan's 1951 film of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire is still powerful and engrossing. It's also quintessentially Southern because Williams wrote the play and screenplay based on his experiences as a waiter toiling in New Orleans' French Quarter.

It doesn't, however, initially seem LGBT friendly from a casual glance. Seeing the movie again on the big screen reveals an intriguing subtext that got past censors and still leads to knowing chuckles. "Of course, it is loaded with LGBT subtexts," Taylor says. "We're planning on doing more with Tennessee Williams."

Williams was unapologetically gay and gave his troubled heroine Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh, winning her second Little Gold Man) several of his own quirks (as well as those of Williams' mentally ill sister), and much of the reason the unemployed English teacher is looking for love in all wrong places is because her ill-fated husband was unable to return her affections.

"Gay" had a different meaning in 1951, but when she refers to him as "weak," it's obvious why they never had a lasting union.

"Tennessee Williams found a lot of ways for getting around all that," Taylor says.

Leigh never escaped playing Gone with the Wind's endearingly indomitable Scarlett O'Hara, but she's perfect here because she gives viewers a sense of what her previous character might have been like if she lacked Scarlett's iron will and fortitude. Coming from a once upper-class family, Blanche finds it increasingly difficult to maintain her aristocratic bearing with a peasant's pocketbook.

Karl Malden and Kim Hunter also won deserved statuettes for the movie, but Hollywood snubbed the captivating Marlon Brando, who pulled off the superhuman feat of making domestic abuser Stanley Kowalski almost sympathetic. Brando can be terrifying and brutish, even in a jacket and tie, but when Hunter's Stella appears to be leaving him, he looks like a wounded little boy instead of a monster.

Kaleidoscope is presenting a cut of the film from the 1990s where Kazan was able to restore footage that had been previously removed to keep the Catholic-based activists The Legion of Decency from declaring A Streetcar Named Desire unfit for viewing. The screening at South on Main promises cocktails worthy of the Crescent City and food that might make viewers lick their fingers the way Stanley does in the film.


Thankfully, the current crop of movies featured at Kaleidoscope is hardly shabby. For example, Desiree Akhavan's The Miseducation of Cameron Post -- which is the closing night film 7 p.m. Aug. 18 -- won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

It stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a high school girl forced into gay conversion therapy. In addition, Jeremiah Zagar's We the Animals -- which opens the festival tonight at 7 -- won Sundance's NEXT Innovator Award.

The festival also includes Beth David and Esteban Bravo's charming short animated film, In a Heartbeat, a simple story of two lads falling in love. It's a little more family oriented than some of the other shorts. YouTube listed it as No. 9 on the list of Top Viral Films of 2017, and it also earned a shortlist spot for the Academy Awards.

With offerings like these, it's safe to say that this year's Kaleidoscope Festival didn't have to depend solely on Tennessee Williams for quality content.

"There's definitely been a tide change over the last 10 years," Taylor says. "The LGBT community is like many minority communities. We have been shut out of Hollywood. We've been shut out of money just because of who we are. Now, I believe you're seeing a lot of these filmmakers are getting opportunities to make the films they want to make."

Tickets for individual screenings are $10. Festival passes are $90.

For more information on Kaleidoscope, go to

MovieStyle on 08/10/2018

Print Headline: Kaleidoscope has films, fashion, fair


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