Lesbian & Gay Film Fest

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In the last few years, lesbian and gay cinema admittedly has expanded to include a whole world of genres—we've certainly seen a wider array of

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Lesbian & Gay Film Fest

This year, loads of lovely love.

  • Lesbian & Gay Film Fest

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    In the last few years, lesbian and gay cinema admittedly has expanded to include a whole world of genres—we've certainly seen a wider array of themes than boy-meets-boy, girl-meets-girl. Even so, one of the most pleasurable things about this year's Lesbian and Gay Film Festival—and gay cinema in general—is its easy, old-fashioned emphasis on relationship movies. In general release just this fall, we've seen a fine one (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss) and a, well, not so fine one (Broadway Damage).

    The festival's subtitle could be "Unlikely Couples and How They Met," from the opening-night film, Like It Is, and its provincial-boxer-meets-London-hipster love story, right on through to the Taiwanese closing-night film, Murmur of Youth, whose young girl protagonists play out a wrong-side-of-the-tracks love story. The Lesbian and Gay Film Festival gives romance back to us many fold, whether it's the surprisingly authentic-feeling love between Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche in the documentary The Real Ellen Story, or the maudlin courtship between two LA cynics in the sarcastically pastel, candy-coated—and downright wonderful—short Sleeping Beauties. Two people from two different worlds meet, feel inexplicably drawn to each other, fall in love, and overcome difficulties—this is the very stuff of romance.

    Festival hits. . . and misses

    All unsigned capsules were provided by the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30

    Like It Is

    Harvard Exit, 8pm

    The opening-night film tells the love story of Craig, a young bare-knuckle boxer from Blackpool (would that make him a Blackpudlian?) who's terrified of his own homosexuality, but falls for record-producer/club manager/swinging Londoner Matt. The unlikely romance between the unsure, violent, provincial Craig and the easygoing Matt is brought off with aplomb by the two appealing leads. Equally fresh-feeling is the film's Soho milieu—there are so many breezy sidewalk cafe scenes and trips out to the clubs that I started to enjoy the film as a kind of queer London travelog. Not surprisingly, the relationship meets many an obstacle . . . more surprisingly, one of the obstacles is Roger Daltry as a coke-sniffin', mean-spirited baddie with expensive hair and an eye-tuck.—Claire Dederer

    Opening Night Party

    ARO.space, 10pm

    Hard

    Harvard Exit Theater, 10:30pm

    Closeted cop Raymond Vates is a rookie in homicide, trying to be "one of the guys" in an overwhelmingly straight, white environment. He and his gruff partner, Lucky, have been assigned to a couple of bizarre murders, which soon prove to be the work of a serial killer. Unbeknownst to them, young male hustlers are being picked up by Jack, a disturbed drifter, who brutally tortures and kills them.

    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31

    "Boys' Shorts"

    Harvard Exit, 11:45am

    In Your Kiss, a daisy chain of smooches ripples across San Francisco. Close to Home documents the journey of the filmmaker as he comes out to his family. A teenage brother and sister compete for the attention of the hunky new Boy Next Door. In Just Out of Reach, a man tries to sneak out on the older man he's just slept with. It Dwells in Mirrors captures the mystery, humiliation, and humor of anonymous sexual encounters. Charlie, the hero of My Body, wakes up next to his own dead body. Rubber Gloves is a twisted take on living with AIDS.

    The Brandon Teena Story

    Harvard Exit, 2pm

    This acclaimed documentary explores the disturbing story of a young woman who passes as a man in a small town in Nebraska. When people in the town find out that Brandon is biologically a woman, two men beat, rape, and murder him.

    Join us afterward for an innovative panel discussion of the borderlands between butch lesbians and females-to-males. Our panel features Professor Judith Halberstam, who teaches literature, film, gender theory, and queer studies at the University of California?San Diego; Professor C. Jacob Hale, who teaches and publishes work in feminist, queer, and transgender studies at California State University; and Jason Cromwell, transqueer anthropologist. Local author Caitlin Sullivan will moderate the panel.

    Party Monster

    Harvard Exit, 5pm

    A modern-day true story, as dazzling and dark as a Grimm fairy tale, this documentary follows the erstwhile career of Michael Alig, a founder of the club kid scene in New York City in the late '80s and early '90s.

    "Queer Cartoons"

    Harvard Exit, 7:15pm, with reception

    This animation program comes complete with an Absolut Audience Animation Award for lesbian and gay animation, a cash prize that will be given to the year's best animation as decided by you, the audience.

    Daughters of Darkness

    Harvard Exit, 9:30pm

    One of the most stylish horror films of the 1970s, Daughters of Darkness is campy, funny, and erotic. This elegantly decadent bedtime story for adults explores the darker side of sexuality with shocking frankness. Wear vampire attire and after the screening join other festival goers at Re-bar for a Halloween party/costume contest.

    Halloween Party

    Re-Bar, 11pm

    Fag Hag

    Harvard Exit, 11:30pm

    Rural beauty pageant contestant Destiny Rutt quits the contest and leaves her hopes of fame and fortune behind. Her life is renewed when she befriends Scott Bushey, a gay drifter who indulges her dreams and inspires her with his determination to become the first white, HIV-positive, motivational rap star, "T-Cell."

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1

    Girls' Shorts

    Harvard Exit, noon

    Ever think of breaking up with your girlfriend just because she is wearing your underpanties? This is the gist of Knickers. My Cunt dives right into the heart of vaginal love. Nostalgic images guide the viewer through the parallel difficulties of homophobia and disease in Dance with Me. Hand-drawn animation makes light of a painful breakup in Vanilla Lament, while Naya Zamana depicts the life of a working girl with a double identity. In Strait, two couples wait for a train to take them through the landscape of sexuality. Tomboy is an autobiographical account of a girl's determination to follow her own "hoop dreams." In Goblin Market, forbidden fruit threatens the idyllic world of two playmates. And Sleeping Beauties, starring High Art's Radha Mitchell, retells the age-old fairy tale.

    Treyf

    Harvard Exit, 2:15pm

    A film by two Jewish lesbians about their Jewishness, their lesbianism, and most of all about their love for each other. Treyf means tainted food . . . or a lesbian woman. The film explores the pleasures and pains of being both inside and outside the Jewish community. As Alisa Lebow says, "You have to be insider enough to know what treyf means, but to be treyf is to be an outsider." The film works best when Lebow and her partner are exposing the tensions of their relationship. Says Lebow, after a visit to "wilds" of the synagogue: "She hates it when I exoticize Orthodox Jews." An especially affecting passage is their nostalgia-laden trip to Jerusalem. Lebow grew up visiting Israel and, "like thousands of Americans," experienced her rites of passage there—her first swim was in the Red Sea, her first kiss in the Golan Heights.—C.D.

    A discussion with filmmaker Alisa Lebow follows the screening.

    Brilliant Company (script reading)

    Harvard Exit, 3pm

    Award-winning Seattle screenwriter Joy Laughter presents her latest script, Brilliant Company, in a fireside reading in the upstairs lounge at the Harvard Exit Theater.

    Mixed Company

    Harvard Exit, 4:30pm

    Dykes who identify as butch give a whiff of their complexity, fluidity, and sensuality in Scent uVa Butch, while A Seeker investigates the tension between a man's homosexuality and his Chinese culture. I Remember inventories one man's past. It Happened in the Stacks is the story of a modest librarian's lesbian encounter, and a cat's-eye view shows us Breakfast with Gus. The Story of the Red Rose is a tale of forbidden love through the eyes of a hermaphroditic songbird. With Sarita Choudhury.

    The Real Ellen Story

    Harvard Exit, 6:45pm

    I don't know what the "real story" is here except that people in Hollywood are a bunch of insufferable, double-dealing melodramatists. Ellen herself comes off, no big surprise, as charming, honest, and funny—it's just the people around her who seem a little unsavory. Unfortunately, the film does little to explore this state of affairs, and concentrates on telling us the story we already know—how the famous coming-out episode came to be aired. Even this modest aim is hampered by the fact that the filmmakers were unable to obtain rights to the show itself, or to get interviews with the people at Disney/ABC. This is of course not their fault, except that their film seems to be structured around these very elements, which are not there. And don't even get me started on the kicky overediting, which makes the film look like an '80s kids' TV show.

    —C.D.

    Following the screening, a panel discussion will be held at ARO.space.

    Steam: The Turkish Bath

    Harvard Exit, 9:30pm

    When successful designer Francesco is named in the will of a forgotten, recently deceased aunt, he heads to Istanbul to oversee the disposition of his aunt's estate. When he arrives, he discovers that the property he has inherited is a hamam, a traditional Turkish steam bath.

    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2

    International Male Shorts

    Harvard Exit, 5pm

    This Cupid is overcome by his stop-action, animated hard-on. School Fag is a monologue by 19-year-old Shawn Fowler. Bollywood actors and childhood friends are featured in Puri's dream-like sequences. Britain's Yellow Fever tells the story of a "banana boy" who dates only white men until his Asian neighbor invites him over for dinner.

    We're Here to Stay

    Harvard Exit, 7:15pm

    Seattle activist and filmmaker Liz Latham designed the video We're Here to Stay as an educational tool for political organizing. In it, she examines the history of Hands Off Washington. With co-presenter Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities, a panel of community activists will be assembled. Also invited are queer political movers and shakers to add their voices.

    We're Funny That Way

    Harvard Exit, 9:30pm

    "Funny" strange, or "funny" ha-ha? Or maybe a little bit of both? The comedians highlighted in Canada's first International Festival of Gay & Lesbian Humor show us not only the best queer comedy, but some of the best comedy in world.

    Boy Adventures

    ARO.space, 9:30pm

    Queercore and Three Dollar Bill Cinema present a special Reel/Queer program "Boy Adventures," featuring hot new gay shorts that will make your pants sizzle.

    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3

    Dakan

    Harvard Exit, 5pm

    More than any other regional cinema, the films from Black Africa create their own filmmaking tradition. There's a directness in these films: Characters speak their minds clearly and concisely; long takes and clean compositions present dramas in easy-to-read terms. This style elevates the stories to an almost archetypal level and enriches them with a unique cultural perspective. In Dakan, Mohamed Camara's tale of two boys who fall in love in defiance of their parents' wishes, this style recasts familiar themes with a fresh perspective and surprises with its dramatic revelations. There's a beauty in Camara's images that speaks to a storytelling tradition far different from the western styles that dominate world cinema.—Sean Axmaker

    Finding North

    Harvard Exit, 7:15pm

    A pleasant if forgettable road trip, Finding North follows Rhonda following Travis (Love, Valor, Compassion's John Benjamin Hickey, low-key to the point of apathy). The two "meet cute" as she helps persuade him not to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. Soon she's obsessed with him and follows him to the Texas hometown of his lover, who's recently died of AIDS. The twist is that all these extravagant gestures are in aid of a friendship, not a love relationship, as Travis and Rhonda learn to trust each other. It's all fairly treacly, saved only by Sister Act's Wendy Makkenna as the by turns pathetic and spunky Rhonda.—C.D.

    The Sticky Fingers of Time

    Harvard Exit, 9:30pm

    Hilary Brougher brings a refreshingly pared-down sensibility to this new kind of sci-fi movie. With its tale of time travelers shuttling back and forth between past and present New York, The Sticky Fingers of Time would seem to fall into a category with Conceiving Ada, the feminist time-travel fable that played this year's Seattle International Film Festival. But the really vertiginously fun thing about Brougher's film is the way she performs her sci-fi tricks with absolutely no special effects, just good old editing and able storytelling. It's an adventure that takes place mainly in your brain, and whatever this parable may lack in cohesion (things get not just sticky, but positively stuck toward the end), it makes up in lo-fi charm.—C.D.

    WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4

    Pasajes

    Harvard Exit, 5pm

    In the opening scene two women storm into an apartment, driving their victim back with a fire extinguisher. It's a promising opening to what appears to be a stylish, high-energy crime thriller, but director Daniel Calparsoso has other things on his mind. The film downshifts into a moody, measured study of four individuals scamming on the fringes of the Spanish port town of Pasajes. Calparsoso directs with a cool understatement that keeps its distance from the characters, and at times distances the characters from their world.—S.A.

    Out of Season

    Harvard Exit, 7:15pm

    When Micki arrives to take care of her dying uncle in New Jersey, the filmmakers don't want us to miss the point: She stomps around looking impatient, wears a cheesy black leather jacket, and is rude to the help at the local diner. We get it! She's from Manhattan! The rest of the film, wherein Micki falls for the cook at said diner, is just as fraught with clich鳠and overwriting. Ain't love grand?—C.D.

    Space Needle Shorts

    Speakeasy Cafe Backroom, 7:30pm

    Showcasing the work of local queer artists is one of the most exciting aspects of this festival's programming. This year a collection of homegrown shorts touching on a variety of subjects will be presented.

    Surprise Sneak Preview

    Harvard Exit, 9:30pm

    Last year the fest brought us Ma Vie en Rose as an exclusive Seattle sneak preview. This year it's wheeled and dealed to preview another critically acclaimed film before its general release, on one condition—that the title is kept a secret! But we do know this: The film received a standing ovation at its premiere this summer, critics have described the performances as "truly wonderful" and "inspired," and it features Lea DeLaria in her best role yet. This coming-of-age love story set in 1984 has a new-wave soundtrack so fine it'll blow your mind.

    THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5

    East Palace, West Palace

    Harvard Exit, 5:45pm

    The first gay feature from mainland China, East Palace, West Palace had to be smuggled out of the country in order to be completed. Set in a lush Beijing public park, the film focuses on two men who develop a powerful and strangely erotic relationship during a police interrogation. A-Lan is a gay man picked up for repeated cruising in the park, and Shi is the officer who detains and questions him overnight.

    Murmur of Youth

    Harvard Exit, 8pm

    Murmur of Youth has been highly acclaimed by audiences and critics around the world. An official selection at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, Murmur of Youth is a deeply emotional portrait of youth, innocence, and the love between two girls.

    Closing Night Party

    Harvard Exit, 10pm

     
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