Reel Affirmations 2003
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/18/2003, 1:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Goethe Institut Inter Nationes
GLEN HOLSTEN’S ENGAGING documentary about the isolation felt by gay youths coming of age in small towns attempts to juxtapose two stories — one vast and filled with hope, the other intimate and profoundly sad. But the components never quite link together in a fully satisfying way, leaving JIM IN BOLD in a bit of a jumbled state.
Holsten follows three gay twentysomethings — Benjie Nycum, Scott Macphee and Mike Glatze — all former employees of XY Magazine, as they crusade cross-country interviewing gay and lesbian youths for the website younggayamerica.com. The idea, of course, is to give voice to America’s gay youth — and the comments proffered are often extremely illuminating. “There’s a whole world out there that you don’t know because you happen to be born to a family who lives in a small town in the Midwest,” says the bandanna-wearing Lincoln, Neb. teen Derek, who then adds, “I love the Midwest.”
The sequences are intercut with the linear story of Jim Wheeler, a Lebanon, Pa. teen whose life came to a tragic end and whose parents, siblings and friends speak, with raw emotions, about the loss. Jim’s tale is meant to be an example of what can and often does go wrong in the lives of young gays, served up as a contrast to the vibrant notes of hope provided by the film’s other outspoken youths. But Holsten lacks the skill to make it work effortlessly, and the 78-minute video documentary ends up feeling more than a little aimless and scattershot.
Still, JIM IN BOLD is charged with enough power to maintain our interest. And even if you feel as though you’ve heard it all before, we all know that you can’t ever hear these stories enough. They are our community’s folklore in the making.