entertainment,  Film Festivals,  Film Reviews

Los Angeles Film Festival: LGBT, CeCe McDonald and Political Animals


In the last few years, we have seen Jeffrey Tambor and Judith Light win Emmys for their work on the groundbreaking series, Transparent, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Olympic Medal Winner – Bruce Jenner star in her own reality series, Laverne Cox shattering barriers as the first Transgender to appear be nominated for an Emmy and snag the cover of Time Magazine and watch Tangerine (which is shot entirely on iPhones) slay at the Spirit Awards with Mya Taylor taking home the top prize.

Not to be outdone, The LA Film Festival, featured several films with a LGBT theme.  Some of my favorites were Afuera, Free CeCe, Denial and Political Animals.  All dealing in some way with the LGBT subject, but from four completely different vantage points.


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Trafficking and immigration has become a recurring theme in this year’s Presidential election. The fascinating thing about Afuera is simply this…

100% – transgender talent (of the transgender roles)
65% – people of color
54% – women
34% – LGBTQ
40% – International
Countries/regions represented:
Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Peru, China, Taiwan, Thailand, France, Spain, Italy, USA

Afuera follows the life of Jennifer, who is in the states illegally and resorts to the sex trade to support herself.  When her boyfriend begs her to stop trading sexual favors in order to be his one and only, Jennifer finds herself in a very complicated set of circumstances.

In many instances Afuera is a mirror of Jennifer’s life.  Like her character, she transitioned in 2014  often times copping black market hormones for a low price and certain obtaining certain procedures due to a lack of health insurance

It’s unfortunate, but a a lot of trans women have to resort to such a life due to the confines society has put on them.  They are unable to secure regular employment and often times bullied, beaten and/or killed.

On a break between films, I had an invigorating, lively  conversation with the film’s leading man, Santiago Malkuth.

As short as the film is, it will undoubtedly leave you breathless yearning for more.

click here for AFUERA trailer




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Do you know what the grid is?  It is the source that controls power all over the country.  It is the means from which we are able to run electricity in a variety of locations simultaneously. David Halquist is an electrical engineer who is passionate about the grid and how its power is sourced.  David Halquist is also transgender and goes by the name Christine.

This secret is kept by his family for fear he will lose his job.  The whole family is in an intense state of denial.  In the process of documenting this story, Derek Halquist, discovers his Dad has Stage 3 Prostate Cancer and come to grips with his Dad, his sexuality and the need for Vermont to embark upon sourcing solar energy as an alternative power source.  We even see a little cameo with Vermont Senator and presidential Candidate – Bernie Sanders.

Everyone is in a state of denial.  Everytime you encounter something in life that you don’t want to admit or accept you go into denial.

One of the best moments is when Derek interviews his Mom and she talks about how she met his Dad with much detail.

click here for red carpet interview with Derek Halquist



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The violence, hate and racism towards the transgender community is more intense than ever. Straight men freak out when they fell their masculinity is in question when they find themselves attracted to a transgender woman.  So, often times, these men will attack without being provoked.

Cece McDonald is transgender.  Walking home one night from the store with some friends, she was brutally attacked, The attacker was not arrested nor did he serve jail time.  He was accidentally killed when he ran into some scissors Cece pulled out as a means to protect herself.

McDonald was one of the lucky ones.  She lived to tell the tale.  But, the officials in charge of this case were not impartial toward CeCe.  From their point of view, mostly slanted from the testimony of onlookers, CeCe was an angry transgender on the rampage.

As a result, she was incarcerated and sentenced to prison in Minnesota.  When word gto out of the injustice towards Cece, an international campaign went into full swing to get her freed. Laverne Cox was one of the first in line and is the Executive Producer of the documentary.

Jac Gares does an exemplary job of sharing Cece’s story as seen through her friends, family and activists that are determined to support any trans woman who is attacked, bullied or mistreated for reasons that are not their fault.




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Prop 13 continues to be in the forefront of the LGBT community for some states.  Why?  There are just some people on this earth who think same-sex marriages should not be allowed.  These are more than likely the same people who thought interracial marriage was a fate worse than death.

However, four openly gay female politicians in California, made it their mission to fight for the LGBT community.  They fought and won the rights for same-sex spouses to have insurance, be able to make medical decisions for their loved one and protect those kids and trans people who get bullied for simply trying to be their authentic self.

I had an opportunity to sit down with the women over the festival weekend..  Take a look…





I love, love love movies, watching them and discussing them...thus the birth of The Curvy Film Critic!!! Host/Producer/FilmCritic-Expert, I am a member of such esteemed organizations as Critics Choice Association, African American Film Critics Association, Online Association of Female Film Critics and Alliance of Women Film Journalists. My op-eds or features have been seen in VARIETY, RogerEbert.com, Maltin on Movies, as well as being a frequent Guest Contributor to Fox 11-LA, NPR, Good Day LA, Turner Classic Movies, KCRW Press Play with Madeline Brand and Cherry Picks. Catch my reviews on The Curvy Critic with Carla Renata - LIVE!!! Mondays 5pm PST via You Tube or Facebook Live. If you like what you read please shout me out and subscribe to The Curvy Critic on YouTube. You can chat with me across all social media platforms @TheCurvyCritic and as always, thanks for supporting a sista'

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