Friday, September 30, 2011

Vancouver International Film Festival - REVIEW: Wish Me Away


Hey hey, smutlings! I'm back! And yes, I'm back covering VIFF! I just got my media pass, and so stay tuned for blog posts about my picks and reviews from VIFF 2011! 
So I just got back from seeing two films tonight, and one really stuck out for me. Wish Me Away, directed by Bobbi Birleffi and Beverly Kopf, follows country singer Chely Wright's journey from Nashville music bombshell to gay rights activist. With hit singles like 1997's "Shut Up And Drive" and her number one country smash "Single White Female" in 1999, Wright's meteoric rise to the top of the country music charts combined with her sex-symbol status had garnered adoration from millions of country music fans and respect from the country music industry; however, the painful secret that she had been harbouring for 30 years was about to be revealed in a very big and very public way: a carefully orchestrated release of a revealing album; an autobiography-plus-nationwide book tour; and interviews on syndicated radio shows, major news channels, The Today Show and Oprah. There was no doubt that Chely Wright was taking a big gamble by becoming the first openly gay commercial country music artist in an industry that is known for not openly accepting gays and lesbians. 
The documentary was strikingly raw, heartfelt and heartbreaking, and truly conveyed the emotions that Chely was dealing with. It is an honest portrayal of a woman standing for her own truth in the face of Nashville and conservative America. Along with interviews with immediate family, friends and entertainment industry colleagues, the feature length documentary includes video diary footage personally shot by Chely herself. While coming to terms with her faith and the realization of her true self as a lesbian, the film explicitly bears Chely's crippling fear of being shunned by family, her fans, and the threat of losing her entire career. Furthermore, it shows that despite recent strides in LGBTQ rights, homophobia still exists in a fervent way. As Chely's minister/personal spiritual advisor states: “There's nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus”.
Wish Me Away is not only for country music lovers; it is definitely a must see for those who may be struggling with coming to terms with their own sexual identity, as well as those who are struggling to accept the sexual identity of those closest to them.

Wish Me Away screens at VIFF on Wed, Oct 5th 11:00am, and Wed, Oct 12th 11:00am, Empire Granville 7.

Official Wish Me Away Trailer:


To obtain tickets and showtimes for all VIFF screenings, go to www.viff.org/festival
Official Wish Me Away website: http://www.wishmeawaydoc.com/

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