Castro icon Marc Huestis has spent almost three decades celebrating celebrity and camp through sold-out benefit tributes. Now, the former filmmaker has the spotlight turned on him in Lauretta Molitor’s touching documentary.
Molitor has previously worked with Huestis, which could have led to a self-indulgent or light-touch film, but that’s not the case. Instead, that closeness transpires in the sheer quantity and quality of the footage available from all stages of Huestis’ life.
Impresario (★★★☆☆) explores Huestis’ lengthy career from its nascent stages in ’70s San Francisco, through his HIV diagnosis and activism in the ’80s, to the start of his celebrity benefits in the ’90s, and beyond. It is touching, humorous, emotional, and more, whether embracing the punk nature of Huestis’ early filmmaking career, or showcasing a celebration of life Huestis arranged for a friend succumbing to HIV/AIDS.
As shocking as that was at the time, documentary filmmaker David Weissman recalls Huestis saying, why wait until someone has died to say nice things about them?
Molitor cuts Huestis’ reflections with snippets from his life, including grainy videos of early stage performances, taped appearances by celebrities at his benefits, and contributions from those lined up to celebrate Huestis’ career and achievements.
And Molitor doesn’t pull punches in covering all aspects of Huestis’ personality — from the charitable good to the fiery bad, whether fuming at a protester at one of his events or tearing into a friend who admitted they voted third party during the Bush/Gore election.
For those unversed in Huestis’ achievements, Impresario is certainly interesting and an undeniably impressive catalog of his career thus far. However, a more disconnected filmmaker may have left a little extra on the cutting room floor, as the film starts to sag around the halfway mark, so complete is its coverage of Huestis’ life.
Despite that slight sense of overstuffing, Molitor does suitably fete a man who has dedicated his life to celebrating and helping others.
Huestis’ wit shines, his recollections of film and celebrity fascinate, and an impressive array of people are on hand to talk at length about his achievements — including John Cameron Mitchell, Dan Nicoletta, and Mx Justin Vivian Bond. Impresario might not be essential viewing, but — much like its dynamic protagonist — it’s captivating nonetheless.
Impresario is available in the Reel Affirmations virtual festival through Sunday, Oct. 23 at 11:59 p.m. Click here for purchasing options.
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