Movies

DocTalk | Peter Keough

A few good movies to celebrate LGBTQ Pride month

An image from “The Freedom to Marry,” a documentary directed by Eddie Rosenstein.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

An image from “The Freedom to Marry,” a documentary directed by Eddie Rosenstein.

Behind every great movement there are great people, and the movement to legalize same-sex marriage is no exception. Eddie Rosenstein’s documentary “The Freedom to Marry” tells the story of how Evan Wolfson, the architect of the movement; civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto; and others struggled to make this dream a reality. It relates the whole story of the modern gay rights movement, starting with the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and ending with the 2015 Supreme Court decision “Obergefell v. Hodges,” which established that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry, making it legal throughout the land. The film vividly recounts years of frustration overcome by determined activists, and the incredulous joy at the final achievement.

“The Freedom to Marry” can be seen Wednesday through June 18 at the Museum of Fine Arts. The 1 p.m. screening on June 18 will be followed by a discussion with Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

For more information go to www.mfa.org/programs/series/the-freedom-to-marry.

Pride month II

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What is gender, anyway? The once seemingly ironclad binary formulation of either male or female no longer applies, and the documentary “Gender Revolution: A Journey With Katie Couric” examines the issue from a variety of viewpoints — science, society, and culture. It also focuses on the all-important human element, including personal stories and interviews with pioneers in the LGBTQ community and other experts.

“Gender Revolution: A Journey With Katie Couric” is available for $14.98 on DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

For more information go to www.foxconnect.com/gender-revolution-a-journey-with-katie-couric.html.

Pride month III

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Sometimes lost in the political and cultural focus on the transgender issue is the sheer physical ordeal of the process. That is not glossed over in Aaron Bear and Gabriel Bienczycki’s documentary “Finding Kim,” an intimate, inspiring, often intense chronicle of three years in a 50-year-old transgender man’s life as he transitions from female to male, preparing to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

But the physical challenge is only part of the story. Kim must also manage the effect of his change on friends and family, and society at large.

In addition to verite-like footage of Kim’s experience, the filmmakers also include moving and insightful interviews from people in his life and experts such as Dan Savage, Carmen Carrera, Calpernia Addams, Buck Angel, and others.

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“Transition is never easy, never perfect, and never over,” says one interviewee.

“Finding Kim” is available digitally from Random Media.

For more information go to www.findingkim.com.

Pride month IV

Whether you’re 50, like the subject of “Finding Kim,” or a youth like Bennett (born Rachael) in Shaleece Haas’s “Real Boy,” changing genders poses daunting challenges. For a teenager, though, the usual pitfalls of adolescence — peer pressure, the temptations of substance abuse, and the overall puzzle of identity — don’t make matters any easier. Luckily, Bennett has the support, if not the full understanding, of his mother Suzy, who is willing to transform her own preconceptions as her child undergoes the challenges of transition. As another mother of a transitioning teenager tells her when Suzy accompanies Bennett to the hospital, “There are lots of people who want to bring them down. We don’t want to be one of them.”

“Real Boy” premieres on PBS’s “Independent Lens” on June 19 at 10 p.m. The film will be available for online viewing on the site on Tuesday.

For more information go to www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/real-boy.

The other French chef

One of the advantages of making a documentary about a chef is that just about everybody is a fan of food. So there might not be a lot of controversy in PBS’ “American Masters” film “Jacques Pepin: The Art of Craft” by frequent Pepin collaborator Peter L. Stein. But there is plenty to savor.

At 81, Pepin can list 14 television shows, nearly 30 cookbooks, accolades including the French Legion of Honor, and countless satisfied taste buds to his credit. He has been racking up kudos since age 16, when he cooked the firemen’s banquet in the alpine resort town of Bellegarde, France, which resulted in his first taste of media celebrity. As a young man in the French navy he was assigned to cook in Paris for such luminaries as Charles de Gaulle. In 1959 he moved to the United States, where he met the American French chef, Julia Child, with whom he would eventually costar in the Emmy-winning cooking program “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.”

And that’s just for starters. Among those interviewed are Rachael Ray, the ubiquitous Anthony Bourdain, and the anomalous Fareed Zakaria. A special treat is the voice-over narration by Stanley Tucci, who starred in and co-directed that masterpiece of culinary cinema “Big Night” (1996).

So, as Julia would say, “Bon appétit.” Or, as Pepin would say, “Happy cooking!”

“Jacques Pepin: The Art of Craft” is available for $19.99 from PBS Distribution.

For more information go to www.shoppbs.org.

‘Track 41,’ rewind

In last week’s DocTalk column, I mistakenly stated that Tanja Cummings, the director of the outstanding Holocaust documentary “Track 41,” would be appearing at the 5:30 p.m. screening on Friday at the Museum of Fine Arts. Instead, she will be on hand for the 1 p.m. screening on Saturday.

For more information go to www.mfa.org/programs/series/line-41.

Peter Keough can be reached at petervkeough@gmail.com.
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