Now in theatres, and opening in LA’s Laemmle Music Hall this Friday, June 15: CHELY WRIGHT: WISH ME AWAY
Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf’s intimate portrait of the coming out of the first major country western musician had its world premiere at last year’s Los Angeles Film Festival just days before screening at Frameline – picking up best documentary feature awards at both. The film has won additional jury and audience awards since, including (fittingly) Nashville, Palm Springs, Seattle LGBT, Philadelphia Q Fest, and Atlanta’s Out on Film, among others. Fest appearances continue even as distributor First Run Features has begun rolling the film out in theatres beginning earlier this month.
Birleffi and Kopf followed the appealing Wright over three years as she finalizes her plans to come out publicly as a lesbian after sixteen years as a Nashville recording artist. Offering at the same time both the private and public sides of this pivotal moment – Wright’s video diary confessions of anxieties and insecurities weighed against the media training she receives to be able to discuss coming out on THE TODAY SHOW or OPRAH – the film achieves something quite a bit different from the typical coming out doc that’s well known to most LGBT film fans. While I confess to not having had a clue who Wright was before hearing about this film – country music is not my thing – I appreciated the unusual and delicate balancing act the subject has had to play between her celebrity and her authentic sexuality, especially in a genre that is largely synonymous with the conservative Bible Belt, and whose fans have already historically not taken too well to its stars going against the grain (ie The Dixie Chicks backlash). So while a cynical reading of the doc can view it as just another part of her carefully orchestrated public coming out process – which included a new album and a biography, beyond the TV interviews – it really is much more, and provides a rare point of access to the double-edged world of fame.