How A Gay Indie Movie Made A Giant Splash During Pride Week

Gayby, a small independent film, has had a special role in a historic week for the LGBT community.

Mike Coppola / Getty Images

Halle Berry, Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, Jason Statham, James Franco and Mila Kunis, and Melissa McCarthy. They’ve all got movies atop the top of the iTunes charts right now. Familiar names and the usual suspect of movie stars. And then there’s… Matthew Wilkas in something called Gayby?

This week, Apple selected the little independent movie as its Movie of the Week on iTunes, giving prominent spotlight and promotion to director Jonathan Lisecki’s comedy about a straight woman, her gay male best friend, and their quest to have a child together.

The movie came out last year, earning strong reviews — it currently has a 90% positive on Rotten Tomatoes — and heaps of praise at SXSW and other festivals. It’s been shouted out by people like The Heat Director Paul Feig, and has a cast with names like Charlie Barnett, Dule Hill, andGirls’ Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky. But nothing could prepare Lisecki, who is gay, for the onslaught of sales and attention the movie has received since iTunes began promoting it — especially because he still has no idea how it happened, beyond his distributor helping to get him a slot in this year’s Pride Week slate of films.

“There is a lot of good will toward our film in the larger film community, and I think that’s kept the title out there and on people’s minds longer than what seemed originally possible,” the writer/director tells BuzzFeed. “But I suspect some of the interest was about something else. This past week has a heightened historic feel because of the excellent news coming out of the Supreme Court, which has brought a lot of joy into many people’s hearts. So why not watch a fun gay comedy to celebrate?”

Clearly, audiences were on the same wavelength. Lisecki’s film topped out as the fifth most rented movie for all of iTunes over the weekend, as well as the No. 3 comedy, and top indie film. The movie earned Lisecki an Independent Spirit Award nomination, as well as several new opportunities — he’s working on a TV pilot and goofy comedy movie following the critical success of Gayby. This unexpected boost of success is nice added bonus.

“You look at the other films on the list and they are huge, multimillion-dollar studio movies and our little 100k feature is just sitting there among them,” he says. “It’s mind-blowingly awesome.”

Of course, his movie’s success still pales in comparison to the incredible history that was made last week.

“We are living in an amazing time,” Lisecki marvels. “There is a real sense of possibility in the air. Rachel Maddow was giddy as she was cutting to live weddings the other day on her show. This week is especially meaningful to me because it is the anniversary of my marriage to my husband [New Yorker writer Alex Ross]. At the time we had to get married in Canada, but now we could do that right here at home.”

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