Gay, Lesbian Film Festival Returns
By Steve Irsay

Filmmaker Barbara Green just wanted some footage of particular concrete bricks found in some downtown Los Angeles architecture.

As she focused her fisheye lens camera on a building near the intersection of Hope and Eighth streets, she spotted a woman approaching. She was probably just going to ask for some money, Green thought.

"She literally walked into my frame and started talking to me," Green recalled. Captivated, she kept filming.

What started out as a mission for some B-roll of bricks turned into a 10-minute short about the scene stealer herself, Tina Paulina, a 37-year-old lesbian living on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

"Tina Paulina: Living on Hope Street" is one of 10 films that will be shown this weekend at the Out Loud Film Festival presented by the Gay and Lesbian Center of Greater Long Beach.

The festival, taking place at the Long Beach Museum of Art on Friday and Sunday and at the Art Theatre on Saturday, is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Center. It also marks the return of its annual film festival, which the Center discontinued in 1999.

Merrill Irving Jr., director of programs for the Center, said the event is part of the Center's effort to go beyond the counseling and health services that have been staples for years.

"It's a fun thing that has no connection to any health contract or things of that nature," Irving said. "We get a sense that people are wanting more events that are community-related."

The feature films include "Adam & Steve," a comedic love story with Parker Posey and Chris Kattan; "Unveiled," a German film about the an Iranian refugee who falls for a local woman; "Freshman Orientation," a university life comedy co-starring John Goodman; and "Loggerheads," based on the true story of a gay male drifter and co-staring Bonnie Hunt and Michael Learned.

The shorts include same-sex marriage documentaries "One Wedding and a Revolution" and "Marry Me: Stories from the San Francisco Weddings" and "High Heels on Wheels," the story of five women who played in roller derbys from 1940 to 1980.

Regardless of the subject, Tami Graham, the film festival chair, said the goal was to screen primarily feel-good films.

"We just wanted them to be uplifting," she said. "We wanted people to leave happy."

Graham predicted that the thought-provoking "Tina Paulina" could "steal the festival."

"It's Tina's energy, her frankness and her honesty," she said. "It's a powerful movie and something that could never have been planned."

Green, a professional still photographer, has made a number of short films with her partner, writer Michelle Boyaner, through their production company, Greenie Films.

During her chance 30-minute encounter with Paulina in early 2004, Green said she was captivated by the Paulina's desire to connect, at one point even hugging Green when the filmmaker confirmed on camera that she too was a lesbian. After the conversation, the two went their separate ways.

"When I came home, I knew I had a wonderful piece of film," Green said.

She has been showing the movie at mostly gay and lesbian festivals, with upcoming screenings in Tampa, Chicago and Atlanta.

However, it was a July showing at Outfest, the Los Angeles gay and lesbian film festival, which led to a second meeting with Paulina. An audience member recognized Paulina shortly after seeing the film and contacted Green.

The two met up again a few days later near Pershing Square. They talked, on camera, for four hours. Green said she hopes to combine the footage with portions of the first film to make a longer documentary about Paulina's life.

"Most people don't stop to talk to homeless people," she said. "This is a chance to get a viewpoint they may never get to hear about. It is very intense."