One of the bad things about the Napa Valley Film Festival was that there was so much to see and so little time to see it. After all, I missed A Private War, Capernaum, and Vox Lux (although given the reception of the latter, I’m not sure I really missed anything there).
During my final day in Napa, I got to see two completely different films that I was so glad I found room in the schedule to see.
Summer ’03, Coming-of-Age Comedy
I was curious about this comedy for two reasons: one, that I was a teenager in the summer of 2003 (could I relate to this flick?), and two, that one of my favorites, Paul Scheer, is in this film, written and directed by Becca Gleason (continuing with the trend of female filmmakers at this festival!).
My grandmother didn’t tell me that the key to life is giving the perfect BJ, nor did I have an affair with a priest, but I found Gleason’s film totally relatable and hilarious, with a supporting cast that includes June Squibb and the criminally underrated Andrea Savage. Joey King plays Jamie, a 16-year-old experiencing one of the craziest summers of her life. I remembered King from The Conjuring, but she really gets to spread her wings (and other things) in this role. Like the season it celebrates, this movie reminded me of those films you’d pop in your VHS or DVD player as a kid. Gleason is very deft at capturing the confusion of young adulthood, as well as its awkward new-to-sex scenes.
I wasn’t alone in my summation, as Summer ’03 won the Jury Award Best Verge Film at the Napa Valley Film Festival.
TransMilitary, Coming-Out Doc
Another big hit at the film festival was not a coming-of-age comedy, but the coming-out doc TransMilitary, winning the Jury Award for Best Untold Story and Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. This documentary follows four different trans military men and women as they serve our country and attempt to meet with the government for support and a declaration of their rights. One of the most startling statistics is that with 15,000 active trans people serving our country, the U.S. military is the top employer for the trans community. That’s simply amazing. These people are not only heroes for protecting us, but for putting themselves and their identities on the line for their sense of duty. It was the perfect film to watch on Veterans Day.
I really loved this one, although it’s hard to love a film that captures such pain. This film is so timely, and even though the producers worked on this project for over four years, it still manages to feel of the moment. They even tinkered with it after Trump tweeted that about the trans-ban in the military.
One of the things I really liked about this screening is that following the film, director Gabriel Silverman, writer Jamie Coughlin, and co-director Fiona Dawson talked about how we can all be allies and work to eliminate the behavior that alienates trans people, including calling people out who belittle trans people (Dawson noted that as recent as last month, Laila, who was featured in the film, was bullied on a flight, where a woman refused to sit next to her because she was trans).
Another way to be an ally is to watch the film and encourage others to watch the film, which will premiere on Logo this Thursday, November 15 at 8/7 c.