One of the most popular local productions at last month's Seattle International Film Festival, Drew Emery's "Inlaws & Outlaws" sold out its world-premiere festival showings and earned an enthusiastic review from Variety's Ken Eisner, who called it "a timely examination of the nature of marriage, whether gay or straight."
The movie returns Thursday night for two showings at the Cinerama, where Emery will introduce and talk about its genesis. He began shooting it more than a year ago, interviewing straight and gay couples from the Northwest, most of them from King County.
As they talk about their experiences on Pike Street, in Volunteer Park, in Mukilteo and other locations (many of the interviews were conducted at a Sand Point hangar), the emphasis is less on sexual orientation than it is on the difficulties and rewards of becoming a committed couple. Heterosexuals talk at length about their devotion to each other, and so do gay men and lesbians.
Inlaws & Outlaws," documentary directed by Drew Emery. 109 minutes. Cinerama, 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Thursday. No rating; includes some sexual discussions.</</p>
"It's about getting past preaching to the choir," said Emery, who worked at the late Alice B. Theatre and on the 2002 video documentary "The Bridge." "It's about getting beyond the red and blue states." He defines himself as a storyteller, rather than an "issues" filmmaker; his goal here was to capture "our capacity to love" on film.
He finished shooting "Inlaws & Outlaws" last September, and he's spent most of the past year whittling 90 hours down to 93 minutes. He thought about making a miniseries from what didn't make the final cut, though he won't go there right now.
Certainly there's little fat in the completed version, which benefits from a generous use of familiar music, including a title tune written for the film. Seattle jazz and soul singer Felicia Loud smoothly performs standards as different as "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and "Everybody Hurts," while the themes from "A Summer Place" and "A Man and a Woman" turn up as mischievous, instant nostalgia-inducers.
The last song sets up an early episode in which children and teenagers are asked to say what marriage means to them. Gradually, the adult talking heads add their thoughts, mixing rapturous memories with sad tales of domestic abuse, sexist behavior, peer pressure and loveless marriages that continued only because one partner refused to acknowledge his or her attraction to the same sex.
The most moving episodes involve loving long-term relationships. One man became suicidal when his lover died, but a welcoming congregation at an Everett church renewed his spirits. Some couples generate such mutual respect and playfulness on-camera that it's easy to see why they've been together for many years. At such moments, "Inlaws & Outlaws" makes its case without even trying.
The Cinerama screenings are sponsored by Cinerama and Vulcan Inc. (the 7 p.m. show will followed by a party at the Palace Ballroom). Cosponsors include the Pride Foundation, the Seattle LGBT Community Center, the Human Rights Campaign, Equal Rights Washington, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and Statscript, Inc. For ticket information, call 206-325-6500 or visit www.ticketwindowonline.com.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org