San Francisco has long been recognized as the major social and cultural mecca for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people -- but it's about time the East Bay got its props. On the heels of the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival's twentieth anniversary, Oakland aims to bring attention to the thriving GLBT community on this side of the bay, and to put the spotlight on black queers in the process. This week marks the first Oakland International Black Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival. The name is a mouthful, but according to fest founder Joe Hawkins, the two-day cinematic event -- held August 12 and 17 at the Parkway Theatre, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland -- offers "a unique opportunity to celebrate and recognize the lives of same-gender-loving people of African descent in film, and showcase stories that have never been told." The festival serves up a savory mix of contemporary features and shorts on the complicated intersection between being gay and being black. Brother Outsider, which picked up an award for best documentary at the SF LGBT film fest, examines the life of activist Bayard Rustin, whose contributions to the civil rights movement have gone largely unrecognized in the annals of history, proving that the fight for civil rights isn't necessarily an all-inclusive affair. In The Edge of Each Other's Battles, another award-winning film, poetry and feminist philosophy mesh during the historic 1992 conference celebrating the life and work of Audre Lorde.
Kali's Vibe offers a salty reminder that all relationships have their ups and downs when a know-it-all social worker finds out her sexy girlfriend is cheating. Director Mohamed Camara put a twist on love-versus-social-convention in his raw revision of Romeo and Juliet -- Dakan, 1997's controversial "coming-out" film from sub-Saharan Africa. A handful of provocative shorts including Butch Mystique, Oakland filmmaker Debra A. Wilson's take on the life and loves of black lesbians; A Different Kind of Black Man, a montage of interviews on the meaning of masculinity and community; and Begin Again, which doubles the taboo of a teacher-student tryst, rounds things out. Tickets cost $5 per show.
For show times and a complete lineup, call 510-814-2400. -- Joy White
How's everybody doing out there? Okay? Okay. How'd you like that Ramp show a few weeks back? Good, huh? Nice venue. Good cookies, good people. Decent pizza. Did you find it alright? Because it's in the basement of the Seventh Day Adventist Church (2236 Parker St., Berkeley), not the Unitarian Universalist Church, as, um, previously listed by this publication. Heh-heh. We're cool, though, right? Good. Because the Ramp's got its usual bevy of indie bounce goin' on this week, and we'd hate to have a little thing like religious affiliation come between us. This time the party rock is off the hook with nu-wave dance funsters Numbers and dirty, dirty, dirrty garage rockers the Coachwhips, plus, straight outta Wisconsin, Trin Tran . 7:30, $6. All ages. -- Stefanie Kalem
Smoke on the Water
There is some question whether the practice of launching little paper boats with candles in them to signify departed souls originated in Japan or Thailand -- but there's no denying the emotional impact of seeing dozens of bobbing lights on the water at dusk. Saturday at the north end of Berkeley's Aquatic Park (on the west end of Addison Street, south of University Avenue), a Peace Lantern Ceremony commemorates the victims of the WWII atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and of all wars. Lantern-making at 6:30 p.m., followed by music and launching. Info a/o volunteers: 510-594-4088 or Progressiveportal.org/lanterns -- Kelly Vance
When it comes to natural child-rearing methods and awareness of such, Berkeley is queen. Last year, 1,130 mothers gathered to take the Guinness World Record for Number of Women Breastfeeding in One Place from Sydney, Australia. Come to Martin Luther King Jr. Park (Allston Way and MLK, Berkeley) and help the city retain its sucking rights, or just enjoy the live music, kids' activities, food vendors, and the Berkeley Farmers' Market. On-site registration begins at 11:30 a.m., and an hour later the participants cross the street to the Berkeley Community Theater for an official count. Send your name, address, and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org to preregister. -- Stefanie Kalem
Culture Spy - April 20, 9:52 AM
Culture Spy - April 13, 12:18 PM