One of the questions I'm often asked in my capacity as a film critic is, ''What's your favorite movie of all time?'' My answer usually surprises people.
That's right, the Disney musical about a magical nanny. I know it sounds odd, but frankly, I can't think of a better way to spend two and a half hours caught up in another universe, transported to place where rooms clean themselves, people glide up banisters, humans interact with animated barnyard animals and dancing penguins, tea parties are held on the ceiling, and a kindly old bird woman spreads love to a flock of pigeons. It is one of greatest films of all time, and while I have other favorites as well -- Hitchcock's Notorious and The Birds, Scorsese's Goodfellas, Tati's Playtime -- it should be no wonder that it's Mary Poppins that I love.
I've also been asked on occasion, ''What's your favorite gay film of all time?'' That one's harder for me to answer. At one time, it might have been La Cage Aux Folles or Parting Glances or Maurice. But over the past 14 years, as I've come to intimately know One In Ten's Reel Affirmations gay and lesbian film festival, the answer has shifted with the times.
If I absolutely had to commit, the honors would go to Beautiful Thing, that sweet, sweet, sweet confection of an unlikely romance between two British teens. God, what a movie. But then, I think of last year's Reel Affirmations audience favorite-winner, C.R.A.Z.Y., a Canadian drama of epic sweep and emotional impact unlike any other I've witnessed. And then there was the year of The Mudge Boy (introducing us to a very gifted Emile Hirsch) and the cinemaphile-wild Illusive Tracks and, well, it just becomes impossible to choose!
I do have a favorite among those I screened in this year's collection -- a Dogma 95 film called Lonely Child, and while the style of filmmaking might not suit everyone's taste, it opened my eyes to the freshness and impact of the Dogma style. This is 100 percent pure cinema, blissful and captivating. And it is because of Reel Affirmations we're getting the chance to see it (for free, no less!), as well as many GLBT features, shorts and documentaries that might otherwise not hit our gaydar.
In my opinion, there is no more important GLBT film festival in the country than Reel Affirmations. One In Ten has brought this annual event to full maturation and it now has cultural seismic impact, both in D.C. and around the globe. Executive Director Margaret Murray and Programs Manager Joe Bilancio, and their hard-working crew of volunteers, should be commended for continuing a tradition begun by Barry Becker and Keith Clark in 1991, and for perfecting the serious growth surge that took root during the Carlos Arias-Sarah Kellogg years. Murray and Bilancio have strong ties to film -- both are movie lovers and cinema connoisseurs. Their dedication to quality shows. The proof is in our feature story for this week.
Our eight tireless, skilled critics reviewed 118 films in 55 programs -- and a full 33 of those programs received ratings of four triangles or better. Of those, 17 received the honor of a Critic's Pick. That's a lot of great movies.
One in Ten should be rewarded for its efforts -- rewarded by you taking a chance on a movie you might otherwise not see. The Reel Affirmations film festival continues to bring us a host of GLBT-infused movies that lie outside of the Hollywood mainstream, but are every bit as good, if not better, than something you'd see at the local multiplex. Reel Affirmations remains, for a 10-day period, the best possible, most affirming 10-days a GLBT person can have here in Washington.