The "People's Premiere" of Milk at the Castro Theatre

Kim Hastreiter

After our insane week in L.A., I was invited by my friends from Levi’s to scoot up the coast to their home turf of San Francisco yesterday afternoon to catch their “People’s Premiere” of Gus Van Sant’s Milk at the legendary Castro Theatre. I didn’t really know what to expect both from the premiere, Van Sant, and the whole event, but I must admit I was blown away by all of it. First of all, the film was shown in the heart of the nabe that pioneered gay rights in the 70’s (and was the setting of the film) at the amazing Castro, a historic, beautiful theater. Levi’s had done an amazing outreach to the community inviting them to see the film. As we waited in the theater for the film, we listened to the sounds of an awesome old school MAJOR organ rising from the floor, played by an old school gay whose muzak-like disco tunes sounded like it was in an ice skating rink. Fabulous. Then came all the dragoons dressed like construction workers, Indians, belly dancers and roller skate queens. It was all very old school. Levi’s had just opened their new Castro Street shop and to celebrate is showing the amazing photos of local legend photographer Don Eckert who had documented the entire 70’s scene there. Check out his photos and website and see how hot they are. I am sure Steven Meisel will be inspired to appropriate them shortly. They are truly amazing photos.

Then came the FILM (that the out, young, handsome, gay president of Levi's, Robert Hanson, introduced with much emotion). WOW. This film is AMAZING guys. I didn’t know what to expect and certainly never expected such HIGH emotions and brilliant direction from Gus Van Sant. This was by far my favorite film I have ever seen from this usually much subtler, darker director. This film is superb. It made me cry and I’m not sure if it was because I was seeing it in during such a historic moment (aka Prop H8), in such a historic neighborhood or with such a passionate audience (screaming, hooting and cheering all the way through) but it was a magic and memorable night I must say.

And how about my number one genius favorite actor in the universe, Sean Penn, who is incredible as Harvey Milk (see photo below). He has the Academy Award SEWN UP for best actor and I think Van Sant should definitely win one too. Penn was so believable, so NOT over-the-top in his performance. He finessed the role to perfection and is definitely a genius actor. After the Prop 8 debacle here in Cali, this is the next HUGE issue now that we’ve gotten Obama in the White House. It was so moving for me to see this amazing film in this moment, in this town, on this street. What a night. Congratulations and thank you to Levi’s for being so OUT in their beliefs and for their huge, vocal support of this community and their vocal opposition to Prop 8.

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