‘Leave It on the Floor’ April 20-26 at Plaza Theatre 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, GA 30306 www.plazaatlanta.com
The initially hostile house mother, Queef Latina (Barbie-Q), whose husband is about to get out of prison, says Brad can stay if he learns to walk for the house in an upcoming competition. Brad gets tutored by Carter (Andre Myers), who stole his wallet when they “met cute.” (It’s OK. He stole Carter’s purse.)
It’s no wonder Eminence is a house of perpetual losers, when Mama Queef drives everyone away. She adds Princess to the list but it’s OK; he steals Brad and takes him along to the competing House of Allure.
A tragedy leads to a scene in which the gay and transgender outcasts and runaways confront the homophobic families that rejected them. Despite dealing with such heavy issues the film maintains the sweet innocence of Hollywood musicals of the ‘40s and ‘50s. People can – and do – burst into song at any moment: original songs with lyrics by screenwriter Glenn Gaylord.
Dancing is less important an element. The ball competitions, a relatively minor part of the film that provides major eye candy, are more about strutting in character than dancing, so don’t expect anyone to get seriously served. “Leave It on the Floor” is more about Brad coming of age and coming into his own, discovering who he is and who he loves.
In return for the love shown “Leave It on the Floor” at last year’s Out on Film, where it won the Audience Award for Best Men’s Feature and a Special Jury Citation for its cinematography and costumes, the film is having its theatrical premiere in Atlanta, screening April 20-26 at the Plaza Theatre. It is co-sponsored by Out on Film.
Lee Hirsch’s documentary “Bully” has been all over the news because of Katy Butler’s petition drive (successful, after minor cuts were made) to get the rating lowered to PG-13 so schoolchildren can see it. It opens April 13 at Atlanta’s Landmark Midtown Art Cinemas.
While the film might have been a well-intentioned mess, it’s actually surprisingly good. It also shows up the hypocrisy of the MPAA and their obsession with “the F-word.” You can see the F-words that really hurt are “fag” and “faggot” (and in one boy’s case, “Fishface”), not “fuck.”
The stories of five bullied children are told, two of them posthumously because the boys involved committed suicide. David Long of Murray County, in northwest Georgia, opens the film telling about his son Tyler, who hanged himself at 17. “They said he was a geek and a fag and they didn’t want to play with him,” his father says.
The other fatality, Ty Smalley only made it to 11.
Kelby Johnson became a pariah when she came out as a lesbian at 16. She’s attempted suicide three times but has a circle of friends, straight and gay, and a good attitude: “Maybe all it takes is for one person to stand up,” she says hopefully.
We don’t learn why Ja’meya Jackson was bullied. Her mother shows off her athletic trophies and says she was an honor student, but one day Ja’meya had enough and pulled out a gun on the school bus.
Getting the lion’s share of screen time is Alex Libby, 12, who is slightly disfigured, probably as a result of being born prematurely. He puts up with a lot of bullying before speaking out.
School administrators issue pathetic denials of bullying or a “kids will be kids” defense, but it’s true that there’s no simple solution to the bullying problem.
The Longs and the Smalleys have started awareness campaigns and the film’s publicity has led major celebrities to take stands against bullying. If the majority of young people will stand with the bullied rather than the bullies (as in the “21 Jump Street” movie), bullying will no longer be cool.
Then maybe kids, gay and straight, can go to school to learn, rather than to suffer or inflict pain on others. Maybe “Bully” can help make that happen.
Top photo: Ephraim Sykes stars as gay teen Brad in ‘Leave it on the Floor,’ which premieres April 20 in Atlanta after winning praise at last year’s Out on Film. (Publicity photo)