Red Without Blue follows the story of Mark, left, and Alex Farley, and Alex’s eventual transition to Clair, right. The award-winning film was completed last year with the support of nearly $10,000 donated by Missoulians.
Those associated with the award-winning documentary Red Without Blue are accustomed to showing the virtues of patience, perseverance and understanding. So the fact that the film, after more than two years in the making, 18 months on the film festival circuit and almost a year of running on the Sundance Channel, is finally making its Missoula debut seems like no big deal.
“Trust me, we wanted to bring it to Missoula earlier, but it just didn’t make its way back,” says co-director Brooke Sebold in a recent phone interview from New York City. The film was passed over by the Big Sky Documentary Festival in 2007, then picked up by Sundance before a local screening could be arranged. “Missoula meant so much to us and we’re so grateful to the community, I’m just glad that it will finally be screening there—and at this particular event.”
On Tuesday, April 22, Red Without Blue will screen as part of the Missoula Public Library’s six-week-long LGBTI exhibit, Out at the Library (see sidebar). It’s an apt venue for a film that follows the often trying story of Missoula-raised identical twins Mark and Alex Farley, and Alex’s eventual transition to Clair. Using original home-movies, intimate interviews with the family and more recent footage shot by Mark, the film traces the singular bond shared by identical twins, their near-tragic adolescence as openly gay teens in Missoula, and their continued close relationship as Mark and Alex give way to Mark and Clair.
In late 2005, a 20-minute rough cut was screened in Missoula to help raise money to complete the project. Those fundraisers drew hundreds of supportive community members—all of whom are listed in the film’s closing credits—and raised nearly $10,000. Since then, Red Without Blue (the title refers to the twins’ childhood, when Mark dressed in red and Alex in blue to help differentiate them) has toured film festivals around the world and garnered widespread acclaim, including best feature documentary at events in San Francisco, Miami and Athens, Greece, as well as audience choice awards at Utah’s Slamdance and Toronto’s Inside Out.
But that all happened last year. By now, the filmmakers and major players in Red Without Blue have mostly moved on from the project. Sebold reports that Mark lives with his boyfriend (their relationship is covered in the film) in San Francisco, where Clair also lives and works doing transgender outreach at a local clinic. Their mother, Jenny, who in many ways steals the movie with her honesty and compassion, has moved with her best friend to Hawaii. Mark and Clair’s father—he and Jenny divorced when the twins were young—is the only one still in Missoula. But despite moving on, next week’s premier provides Missoulians with a chance for closure and to see the project’s successful end result.
“It’s such an important story because of how some of the larger issues facing society are grounded in those we live with,” says Andrew Laue, a licensed clinical social worker who worked with the Farleys in Missoula and helped organize the local fundraisers. “These are our neighbors, and I think it shows we have to do a better job at standing by those among us. This is, after all, a story that happened to us.”
Red Without Blue screens as part of Out at the Library, Tuesday, April 22, at 7 PM, at the Missoula Public Library. Free.
Checking out Out
While the six-week lineup for Out at the Library—starting Thursday, April 17, and continuing through Saturday, May 31—is full of worthwhile events, we’ve gone ahead and selected some standouts. Check out our highlights below, or peruse the full schedule at missoulapubliclibrary.org. (All events are at the Missoula Public Library unless otherwise noted.)
Thu., April 17, 7 PM
Things kick off with author and Montana native Patricia Nell Warren’s lecture, “Why Gay Culture Matters,” as well as a performance by the Missoula Men’s Chorus and a screening of Gay Pioneers, a documentary about the first homosexual civil rights demonstrations in the United States on July 4, 1965, in Philadelphia.
The Life and Times of Harvey Milk
Thu., April 24, 5:30 and 7:30 PM
UM’s University Center Theatre, inside the UC
The good folks at the Peace and Justice Film Series team up with Out at the Library to show this 1985 Academy Award-winning documentary on the political career and assassination of the first openly gay elected official in the United States.
Gala Reading with Tom Spanbauer
Sat., April 26, 7 PM
Shakespeare & Co., 103 S. 3rd Street
The Portland, Ore.-based author wrote the critically acclaimed The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, which focuses on the self-discovery of a half-Indian bisexual boy living in Idaho, and Now is the Hour, the 480-page epic of a 17-year-old boy’s personal journey from small-minded Pocatello to San Francisco, circa 1967.
How the Gays Saved Civilization
Thu., May 1, 7 PM
The title alone elevates this panel discussion to our list of highlights, and the press release only adds to the intrigue: “From Latin American literature to Medieval sodomy—we’re covering the waterfront!”
The Three Faces of Tennessee Williams
Fri., May 2, 7 PM
The Montana Repertory Theatre takes a look at the iconic playwright through his backstage notebooks, play readings and film clips, with a focus on how sexuality played such a prominent role in his work.
Tango in Trouble
Wed., May 7, 7 PM
Librarian Karen Gonzales covers the history of children’s books dealing with LGBTI issues, including a reading of And Tango Makes Three, the controversial—and allegedly true—story of a New York City penguin growing up with two fathers.
The Power of Thomas Savage
Tue., May 20, 7 PM
A look at Montana’s first gay cowboy novel, The Power of the Dog, which was originally published in 1967, and its author, led by UM-Western Professor Alan Weltzien and exhibit curator Karl Olson.