by Dov Kornits

When New Queer Cinema emerged in the Nineties, filmmakers like Gus Van Sant, Rose Troche, Todd Haynes, Cheryl Dunye and Gregg Araki exploded onto the scene with their edgy, transgressive films that were embraced by the booming indie film scene. We’re not in Sundance anymore, Dorothy, and today’s queer cinema embraces different themes and concerns.

The Mattachine Family is about LA couple, Thomas (Nico Tortorella) and Oscar (Juan Pablo Di Pace), whose taste of parenthood ultimately pulls the dads apart rather than bringing them together.

“I think something that we tackle in the film is the assimilation of the LGBTQ+ community into the straight community, and how queer means being different,” says director Andy Vallentine, whose husband Danny Vallentine wrote the screenplay. “Are we losing some of our queerness because we’re not different, we’re getting married, we’re having children? These are all big questions that we really wanted the film to tackle.

“I do think that our film, and queer film in general, deal with two major themes: the idea of coming out, and the idea of acceptance and accepting oneself. And those were themes that we didn’t necessarily need to include in The Mattachine Family because for a lot of people in the community, while those two stories are still important and still need to be told today, we have moved past those two and we’re ready to answer all of these other questions.”

Mattachine of the title refers to a creative neighbourhood in Silver Lake in Los Angeles where the Vallentines lived when they came up with the idea for the film. “There’s a set of stairs called the Mattachine Steps,” Andy tells us from his garage whilst Danny is in an adjacent room looking after their young daughter. “It was dedicated to the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organisations, from the 1950s.

“We draw parallels to the idea that this society in the fifties formed this chosen family. It was a group of gay men who came together to advocate rights for gay people. And how within the LGBTQ+ community, we’ve created chosen families; depending on what happens with your real family, your friends and other loved ones become your family. We play a little homage to them and how they’ve created that chosen family and how we’re still doing it today.”

One of the issues that the film addresses is the outing of actors, and what that can do to a career. “If you come out as gay, all of a sudden you’re put on these lists to play only gay characters, and so you miss other opportunities,” says Andy, regarding the subplot about teen heartthrob Oscar’s outing and the challenges of finding work as an adult. “That’s how casting directors, directors and audiences perceive you … It’s a weird time at the moment. Hopefully it gets better where people aren’t pigeonholing you into certain roles.”

Speaking of which, The Mattachine Family is proudly populated in front of the camera and behind the scenes by the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think it’s a moment right now, and I have the opportunity to help out a diverse group of people by casting them, by hiring them as cinematographer, as producers … and also my specific community. Right now, telling queer stories, it’s important that when there is an open seat that we’re brought up to it. We need to amplify some of those voices that traditionally have not been present. But in the future, if everybody has a seat at the table, I don’t know if it’s always going to be like that, especially if we can figure it out.”

The Mattachine Family screens at the Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival on 22 February 2024 and is also available On Demand from 1 – 14 March 2024. For all tickets head to