Hometown Boy Makes Good

In his second feature, an exlocal lad salutes the site of his coming out.

Q. Allan Brocka's bona fides as a SIFF geek are hard to match: During the 10 years he lived in Seattle (after growing up in Tacoma), he says, "I wasn't just a volunteer, I was a year-round volunteer. I sat in the SIFF office for free all year long." So SIFF's special Friday-night gala screening of his latest film, Boy Culture, which just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, is an especially meaningful homecoming. Based on Matthew Rettenmund's novel, it's the story of three roommates: "X," not named until the end, an escort struggling to balance his professional and romantic lives; Andrew, the recently out man X is in love with (whether or not he can admit it drives the plot); and Joey, a flamboyant kid with baggage of his own.

Furthermore, Boy Culture was set and filmed in Seattle. "The book was originally set in Chicago and so was the adapted script [by Brocka and Philip Pierce]. We found it was incredibly expensive to shoot anywhere outside of Los Angeles. None of us knew anyone in Chicago or really anything about the city, so the budget would've been enormous. I was absolutely against shooting in LA. It just felt completely wrong for the story. Both my line producer and I are from Seattle, and I had always wanted to shoot a film there. When we discovered we could actually afford to shoot there, we happily packed up."

Brocka's firsthand knowledge of Seattle's gay scene lends Boy Culture authenticity — and the scenes in the titular bar, filmed at the former Timberline (R.I.P.), will probably add poignance. Says Brocka, whose first film, Eating Out, played local theaters last year: "Everyone I ever worked with, fell in love with, fought with, skipped class with, or got dumped by is in this city. Portraying gay life in Seattle is actually very comfortable for me in this film because I did live it here and know these people. I was a 'Joey' myself, hanging out at Lambert House and running up and down Broadway at 18."


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