In its 12th year, Washington’s gay film fest is still called Reel Affirmations, but it’s a little conflicted about the name. As conceded in the fest’s program, some of these films “don’t happen to be affirming.”

In other words, they’re bad propaganda, but good filmmaking. One of the fest’s best documentaries, The Ghost of Roger Casement, is about an exemplary early-20th-century life whose most controversial aspects—homosexuality and support for Irish independence—are far less contentious today. Everyday gay life still provides worthy subjects for such nonfiction films as Ruthie & Connie: Every Room in the House and Daddy & Papa, as do the absurdities of the uptight straight world, lampooned this year in Dildo Diaries, but the schedule also includes Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay and Hand on the Pulse, documentaries about gay pioneers who were not always popular with their peers.

As usual, the fiction selection draws on the wealth of foreign material that would go unseen in the United States without film festivals. Highlights include Days, an Italian AIDS drama; Blue Gate Crossing, a Taiwanese high-school love-triangle tale with a twist; Bad Genres, a thriller in which a murderer is stalking Brussels’ transvestites; Between Two Women, a coming-out-and-getting-away saga set in working-class ’50s England; Bungee Jumping of Their Own, in which reincarnation challenges a Korean man’s sexuality; and Cock & Bull Story, a boxing drama that’s the debut film from Billy Hayes, whose years in a Turkish prison inspired Midnight Express.

Eroticism has always been part of cinema’s appeal—which is why the fest’s program includes such helpful asides as the news that The Journey to Kafiristan includes “skinny

dipping.” (For the record, it doesn’t—but Guardian of the Frontier does.) And, of course, Reel Affirmations 12 features plenty of campy farces, notably Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This may not be an entirely affirming film festival, but it’s still a gay one. —Mark Jenkins

Screenings take place at the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center’s Goldman Theater, 1529 16th St. NW; the Goethe Institut Inter Nationes, 814 7th St. NW; and the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Admission is $9 unless otherwise noted. For more information, call (202) 986-1119 or visit www.reelaffirmations.org.

18

FRIDAY

His Secret Life

First shown locally under the title Ignorant Fairies, Turkish-Italian director Ferzan (Steam) Ozpetek’s dramedy is an upscale, socially conscious soap opera about a suburban woman who discovers that her recently deceased husband was having an affair. Tracking the available evidence—including an “ignorant fairy” inscription on a piece of art—to a downscale but hip neighborhood south of central Rome, Antonia (Margherita Buy) discovers that her husband’s longtime lover was a man, Michele (Stefano Accorsi). After overcoming the initial shock, Antonia is accepted into Michele’s extended family, which includes transsexuals, AIDS patients, and Turkish refugees. The film is a little glib, but it should warm the hearts of people who believe that urban outsiders are really more normal than the suburban bourgeoisie. —Mark Jenkins

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

All the Queen’s Men

The latest by Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky does not have the markings of a good movie. First of all, it stars Matt LeBlanc, who hasn’t exactly garnered critical acclaim in previous turkeys such as Lost in Space and Ed. Second, the story is about a group of Allied soldiers who are ordered to infiltrate a women-only factory to steal one of Hitler’s Enigma code-writing machines—while dressed in drag. Surprisingly, however, All the Queen’s Men is rather engaging, often entertaining, and occasionally even poignant. LeBlanc, though forever Joey, is a likeable leader of the gang of bickering misfits, and Eddie Izzard is compelling as “a bisexual lesbian in a man’s body—but it’s more complicated than that.” Their schemes are smart and their eventual bonding touching, and a scene in which the bombs unexpectedly drop on an innocently bustling town is skillfully directed and hard to forget. —Tricia Olszewski

At 9 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Showgirls

This seems a merely functional title for American director Paul Verhoeven and scripter Joe Eszterhas’ meditation on women who kiss other women and brandish sharp implements, but then this is a merely functional movie. The film provides a smorgasbord of NC-17 flesh, but the effect is more picturesque than erotic. Heroine Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) is so concerned that her career as a pole- and lap-dancer not be confused with prostitution that she refuses nearly everyone’s advances; when she finally gets a gig in a big Vegas revue, both the entertainment director (Kyle MacLachlan) and the star dancer (Gina Gershon) want to get her in bed—well, it’s the pool, actually—but only one succeeds. Showgirls is the story of a young woman’s education: Nomi learns, basically, that Vegas is sleazy. Because Berkley’s performance is more acrobatic than emotive, however, it’s hard to discern that anything has registered behind her stubbornly intent, heavily made-up face. —Mark Jenkins

At 11 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

19

SATURDAY

Georgie Girl

Annie Goldson and Peter Wells’ documentary focuses on Georgina Beyer, the first transsexual to be elected to a national political office. The 69-minute film follows Beyer from her childhood as farm boy George to her days as a transvestite exotic dancer to her election to the New Zealand Parliament in 1999.

At noon at the Goethe Institut.

Hand on the Pulse

For co-founding New York’s Lesbian Herstory Archive, Joan Nestle might have expected to be a feminist icon. In the early ’80s, however, she found herself on the “enemy list” of feminism’s anti-porn wing, which objected to her frank expression of her sexuality. “I wanted the body to be present,” she explains of her decision to do public readings from her erotic fiction wearing a black slip. In Joyce Warshow’s documentary, Nestle is depicted as both her own woman and the empathetic child of a widowed, cash-short mother whose own sexual history—much of it unpleasant or worse—wasn’t revealed until after her death. As a ’40s latchkey kid whose elementary school teacher denounced her kind, Nestle had a revelation: Authority figures don’t know what they’re talking about. That moment, according to Hand on the Pulse, has driven Nestle’s life and work, inspiring her to doubt common wisdom and challenge both “friends” and foes.

—Mark Jenkins

At 2 p.m. at the Goethe Institut.

Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay

Growing up in Los Angeles in the early 20th century, Harry Hay didn’t even have a word for what he was. Eventually, though, he was to help establish three organizations that gave him and many others an identity: the Mattachine Society, the Gay Liberation Front, and the Radical Faeries. As a young actor, Hay met other gay men and had an affair with Will Geer, a fellow Marxist who would later play Grandpa Walton. But unable to find a sense of community in the subterranean gay world, he joined the Communist Party, married a leftist female friend, and fathered two children. In 1948, he founded the Mattachine Society (named for a 13th-century Italian jesters group), which brought “hope along the wind” to gays everywhere, in part by mounting the first successful legal defense of a gay man busted on trumped-up charges. Ironically, Hay was forced to quit the Communists for being gay, and he was later expelled from the Mattachine Society for being a Marxist. As Eric Slade’s crisp documentary shows, Hay made some missteps but never lost his way. —Mark Jenkins

At 3 p.m. at the Goethe Institut.

Stranger Inside

American director Cheryl Dunye’s follow-up to her film Watermelon Woman explores notions of family and self through the lives of two black women serving life sentences in a state prison.

At 3 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre. Free.

The Ghost of Roger Casement

Alan Gilsenan’s fascinating documentary explains who Roger Casement was—and why you probably didn’t know. A Victorian-age Irish orphan, Casement went to work for a Liverpool shipping line as a teenager and was soon a West Africa expert. When British authorities began hearing stories about atrocities committed by Belgian rubber barons in the Congo, Casement was assigned to investigate. He wrote a devastating report that brought reform to that country and then did much the same thing in Brazil, whose rubber-harvesting industry was as brutal as its African model. Knighted as a humanitarian, Casement returned to Ireland, where he noticed too many similarities between his homeland and the European colonies of Africa and South America. Radicalized, he attempted to enlist German aid for the 1916 Irish rebellion. Casement was captured and hanged as a traitor, but even in death he remained a problem for the British government. To transform him from martyr to “pervert,” agents quietly circulated Casement’s “Black Diary,” accounts of a gay secret life that some supporters believe was forged. The film’s punch line is the latest forensic study of the journals, but Gilsenan also shows how Casement’s memory is being reclaimed, regardless of what anyone thinks about his diaries.

—Mark Jenkins

At 4 p.m. at the Goethe Institut.

The Business of

Fancydancing

A mix of fiction and autobiography in the form of a mock documentary, Smoke Signals scripter Sherman Alexie’s directorial debut is the fractured tale of a successful gay writer who feels more at home with his lover in Seattle than on the reservation where he grew up. When a childhood friend dies, Seymour Polatkin (Evan Adams) makes his first trip home in years. Some of his old pals receive him angrily, however, accusing him of abandoning them and stealing their lives for his writing. Things are better off the rez, where Seymour is greeted with adulation at readings, although his successes are interrupted by clips from an interview with an angry African-American woman who finally calls him a “whore.” The film will likely interest Alexie’s fans, but the direction and some of the acting are shaky, and the agenda is a little too self-serving. —Mark Jenkins

At 5 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Queens Don’t Lie

Director Rosa von Praunheim returns to Ovo, Bev, Tima, and Ichgola, the drag activists of Lady’s Envy and self-titled Berlin “queens” she worked with previously in I Am My Own Woman, The Einstein of Sex, and Neurosia. The quartet was the Cockettes of Germany, for whom queening—being boldly who they imagined themselves to be—was a political act as well as a psychosexual performance. (“Our suffering must be authentic,” one says as they shimmy into cheap organza.) For them, dressing up as ugly, vulgar women—frumps in slippers with dirty makeup and blue wigs, epicene nuns, and maiden aunts—was a provocation; even their families complained that they weren’t pretty enough girls. The men’s stories are nothing new: Von Praunheim listens as they separately recount coming out, first loves, struggles with family and God, finding each other in the pansexual paradise of Berlin, and the breakup of their union as three of the members face life with HIV. But it’s a charming portrait—the men are witty, wise, and honest, and their seriousness as artists is Teutonically solemn. As a snapshot of sexual discovery in Europe at the dawn of the age of AIDS and queer activism, Queens Don’t Lie is rich, engrossing, and even educational—you’ll be happy to hear that the German term for tits is Titten. —Arion Berger

At 6 p.m. at the Goethe Institut.

Ruthie & Connie: Every Room in the House

During the first few minutes of this documentary, you might wonder why you’re watching somebody else’s home video. Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz, a Jewish lesbian couple, are introduced in Florida in 1999, discussing their “colors” and sorting through old photographs together. This is the year they celebrate their 25th anniversary, and before you get to decide that you don’t exactly care, the film sweeps you into the drama of their time together. Although there’s nothing remarkable about a lesbian couple in 2002, the world was a much different place in ’70s Brooklyn, where Berman and Kurtz met. The gravity of the women’s realization that they were in love with each other—at the time, both were married with children, and both still are practicing Jews—is expressed when Berman says, “When I heard that I was a lesbian, I wanted the ground to open up and for me to die.” (She then adds, “And who [first] called me that? My now ex-husband.”) Berman long denied her attraction to Kurtz, even after they moved in together—though into a two-bedroom apartment complete with cute plaques to designate each other’s room. Eventually, however, the guidance counselor fought the New York City Board of Education for domestic-partner benefits and won, and she and Kurtz also started a PFLAG chapter in Florida. Incorporating interviews with both lesbians and Jews who were inspired by Berman and Kurtz’s courage and outspokenness, Ruthie & Connie turns out to be a look into others’ home life that’s an inspiration instead of a bore.

—Tricia Olszewski

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Endgame

Sadism and bathos make strange bedfellows in writer-director Gary Wicks’ Endgame, a melodramatic thriller about the plight of an English rent boy. Tom (convincingly played by doe-eyed Daniel Newman) is kept in an icily modernist flat by a married gangster who shares his boytoy with a depraved cop (John Benfield) in return for purloined narcotics. Both men subject Tom to agonizing rough sex, and when he is caught in a life-threatening situation, he prevails upon his neighbors, a heterosexual American couple, to hide him in their country cottage. But the demonic cop trails him, leading to a bloody climax. Wicks stages the sadomasochistic sequences with nasty relish, intercutting them with idealized, slo-mo flashbacks to Tom’s relatively untroubled childhood, complete with bubble-machine effects. In the bucolic rural scenes, shot through frozen-broccoli-green filters, Tom is introduced to the joys of heterosexuality by his host’s sympathetic wife (Toni Barry, nasal and stiff). None of Tom’s same-sex encounters is consensual—all involve physical force, including an incestuous rape—but his lovemaking with Barry is presented in swooningly romantic lap-dissolve images. The film’s implicit homophobia leads one to question its suitability as part of a film festival affirming the gay experience. —Joel E. Siegel

At 9 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Director Doug Miles has taken a tattered print of Killers From Space, a soporific grade-Z 1954 sci-fi movie featuring Peter Graves and directed by W. Lee Wilder (Billy Wilder’s ungifted brother), and transformed it into an often deliciously daffy satirical comedy. Overdubbing new dialogue, as Woody Allen did in 1966’s What’s Up Tiger Lily?, Miles reconfigures the original’s Cold War plot—a dead scientist, revived by aliens, is commanded to steal atomic secrets—into a farce about extraterrestrials from the planet Uranus plotting to turn our planet’s population gay. Sprinkled with inserts of newly shot footage, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell casts a wide net for its comic targets, snagging the usual suspects (the Bushes, J. Edgar Hoover) as well as a few sacred icons (Bill Clinton, Barney Frank). Although it runs out of steam in the final quarter-hour, proving that no amount of retrofitting can transfigure Killers From Space’s catchpenny turgidness, this inspired, zany film is one of the festival’s highlights. —Joel E. Siegel

At 11 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

20

SUNDAY

Straight

There will probably be points during David Schmader’s Straight that you think to yourself, My God, is he still talking? Though only 100 minutes long, Schmader’s sorta stand-up film feels interminable, and if you drift off for a bit, don’t worry: You won’t miss any jokes more biting than the zinger that teenage homosexuals end up in drama club. Straight is based on Schmader’s experiences undergoing various forms of “conversion therapy,” and he yawningly relates his interactions with queer-curing psychologists and Christian groups. He touches on the hypocrisy of religion and the euphoria of coming out and, when he’s getting really crazy, his deification of Cher. His moldy material aside, Schmader, who looks like a freshly retired altar boy, is just too apple-cheeked and—forgive the term—straight-laced to pull off this wannabe-out-there comedy routine. —Tricia Olszewski

At noon at the DCJCC.

Daddy & Papa

This intimate, wide-ranging documentary goes deep into the issues surrounding gay parenthood. In heeding their biological clocks, Johnny Symons and his partner, William, take a plunge into fatherhood that wipes out their previous understanding of gay culture, rewrites their attitudes toward straight culture, and brings up complications about race and class they never thought would result from becoming daddies to angel-faced little Zachary. Symons documents his own experience, recounting his unease with the adoption process (which he calls “catalog shopping”) and the fraught reality that, in their home city of San Francisco and other places, many white, well-off men are raising African-American children with few rules or precedents. No longer relevant in the singles haven of the Castro, Johnny and William take Zachary to Gay Day at the Great America amusement park—where all the kids’ rides are closed for the day—and wonder how much their yearning for familial comfort is assimilationist buckling-under as they climb into their new Volvo station wagon. Symons interviews other parents, observing the effect of “divorce” on a well-adjusted 9-year-old girl and the bond between a single gay dad, his devoted child, and the boy’s extensive fundamentalist-Christian former foster family, as well as the ramifications of various state laws grappling with questions of gay adoption. The film is a real heartwarmer, despite the poisonous strain of potential anti-adoption laws that hums underneath the images of happily blended families. —Arion Berger

At 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Bad Genres

Someone is killing the beautiful trannies of Brussels, and it’s up to their spangled, high-heeled colleagues to stop him. The glamorous, watchful Bo (Robinson Stevenin), born Beaudoin, is doubly burdened—with police interest in the drag-hooker killings as well as the law’s keen attention to the peccadillos of her father, a VIP with unsavory sexual habits. Add to which her fascination with a thuggish young neighbor, Johnny (Stephane Metzger), a nasty piece of work with fingers in every available pie so long as it’s illegal, unsavory, or violent. The long arm of Alfred Hitchcock informs this elegant, humorless thriller, if pointlessly. A leitmotif of voyeurism comes to nothing, but Bo’s chic, ladylike look is vintage Hitchcock heroine. We never quite buy the eye-patch-wearing figure whom Bo keeps glimpsing before the murders, but the story is gripping enough, especially when suspicion lands on our leading lady’s tasteful chestnut chignon.

—Arion Berger

At 2 p.m. at the DCJCC.

African Stories

This program presents two recent films from Africa. In Surrender, everyone speaks simply and directly, but Celine Gilbert’s swift film, set on the sun-washed beaches of Zanzibar, is all nuance and undercurrent. Gilbert’s tatami-level camera witnesses the passage into stultifying manhood of merchant’s son Amri. He is forced to let go of his personal longings and conform to his Muslim community’s demands when his father marries him off to a dull good girl to make a useful familial alliance. Meanwhile, Amri envies the freedom of his fisherman friend, Mahua, not understanding that, as the kept boy of an older man, Mahua must live within a different set of confines. In Simon & I, narrator Beverley Ditsie recounts her friendship with activist Simon Nkoli, who brought sexual politics into the arena of South African liberation, as well as her own burgeoning sense of outrage as an AIDS activist and lesbian filmmaker. European and American coming-out stories are fraught enough, but the ignorance, violence, and intolerance of apartheid-era South Africa is staggering. Despite all the respect she shows her limelight-hogging mentor and eventual media rival, Ditsie is the real heroine of Simon & I; this aware, confident young woman’s self-examination is an awesome feat. —Arion Berger

At 3 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Whether You Like It or Not: The Story of Hedwig

American director Laura Nix’s film documents the rise of John Cameron Mitchell’s bouffanted drag character from off-Broadway stage to the big screen.

At 4 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Bungee Jumping of Their Own

Although it takes them quite a while to connect, attractive Seoul college students In-woo (Byung-hun Lee) and Tae-hee (Eun-joo Lee) are clearly made for each other. On the night they finally sleep together, In-woo tells Tae-hee that if she dies he’ll recognize her and love her reincarnation. Naturally, she’s promptly hit by a truck, and In-woo has to wait 17 years to meet her again—now in the form of Hyun-bin (Hyeon-soo Yeo), a male student in high school teacher In-woo’s class. In-Woo is a little unnerved by this discovery, but he can’t stay away from the boy who has the soul of his dead love, which leads first to rumors that teacher and student are gay and then to outright harassment. For those who believe in reincarnation, director Dai-Seung Kim’s skillful and entertaining melodrama may be provocative. Of course, it can also be seen as a timidly roundabout way to approach same-sex love between teacher and student. —Mark Jenkins

At 5 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Dildo Diaries

You’re in Austin, Texas, and you want to buy a dildo. And why not? Nothing else to do in the godforsaken place. So you wander into the Forbidden Fruit sex shop, and ask for the longest, hardest, purplest bad boy they have. Sorry, they inform, no dildos for sale—but they do carry penis-shaped “educational models” and battery-operated “personal

massagers.” In this very funny 60-minute documentary about the overt backwardness of the Lone Star legislature, syndicated columnist Molly Ivins has a devilish time mocking the prudish penal code and those infamous obscenity laws. The state’s confederacy of dunces has proclaimed that a “personal massager” can’t look like a penis (no head, no veins, no balls), and that an “educational model” (“for people who need to be educated”) can look just like a erect penis—it just can’t vibrate. Also, if you own five or fewer “educational models,” you are considered a “hobbyist”; however, if you own six or more, you are…under arrest for “intention to distribute.” It’s a kick watching Ivins outwit her conservative foes, but it’s a shame that filmmakers Laura Barton and Judy Wilder too quickly send her off topic and out of state to a sex-toy convention and factory. Dildo Diaries eventually turns into an extended episode of HBO’s tired Real Sex, but this doc’s first half is well worth catching. FYI: At Forbidden Fruit, it’s perfectly legal to ask for a butt plug. “The anus is not a sexual orifice according to Texas law,” Ivins informs. “You can put anything up your butt…as long as it isn’t a penis.” —Sean Daly

At 6 p.m. at the DCJCC.

I Love You Baby

This film by Spanish directors Alfonso Albacete and David Menkes follows three young Madridians entangled in a love triangle: Marisol (Tiare Scanda) loves Marcos (Jorge Sanz), and so does Danny (Santiago Magill). But can Marcos admit that he’s in love with a man? And will he break Marisol’s heart in the process?

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Jesus Christ

Vampire Hunter

The title of Canadian director Lee Gordon Demarbre’s Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter pretty much says it all—85 minutes of Our Lord and Savior righteously beating the shit out of an army of unholy bloodsuckers. Sure, there’s a barely discernible story line buried beneath the layers of gore—something about the disappearance of the local lesbian community, vampires who walk freely in the daylight, and the Second Coming. But who needs story when you’ve got low-budget kung-fu action featuring punk-rock priests, a thrift-store-shopping Jesus, and a Mexican wrestling superstar vs. legions of vampire dykes? Drawing heavily from ’70s exploitation films, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter’s tongue-in-cheek take on biblical prophecy and contemporary sexual politics comes complete with swanky soundtrack and laughable dubbing. Add a musical number and a special appearance by God in the form of a cherry sundae and you’ve got something much better to do tonight than watch Buffy reruns. —Matthew Borlik

At 8 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Best of the Fest

This program of 12 short films includes American director J.D. Disalvatore’s Gay Propaganda: Reservoir Dogs, French director Daniel Wiroth’s One Dance, One Song, and Australian director Mark Robinson’s Sweet Thing.

At 9 p.m. at the

Lincoln Theatre.

21

MONDAY

OUT in the Cold

This film by American directors Eric Criswell and Martin Bedogne looks at the plight of homeless gay youth and the societal pressures that drive them from their families and communities.

At 6 p.m. at the DCJCC. Free.

Cock & Bull Story

Behold Brian Austin Green’s bare ass: You didn’t see that on 90210! And you sure as hell didn’t see him skank up the streets as a booze-addled hustler begging for handjobs and getting two-by-four’d in the gut by cold-blooded pimps. In Cock & Bull Story, Green is convincingly shifty as slick-haired Jacko, bad influence and best friend to Travis (Bret Roberts), a sweet, clean-cut boxing prodigy hoping to fight his way outta the South Side of Chicago. Travis talks gals with his best pal and acts silly with his doe-eyed girlfriend, but in the ring, going skin to skin, sweat to sweat, something happens to the pugilist: He gets sexually excited “in the clinch” with his male opponents. As Travis deals with his male-bonding issues and pummels the men he craves most, Jacko hits on his best friend’s confused girl and starts a neighborhood war—all leading up to a powder-keg finish. Loaded with convincing performances—especially by Green, who managed to sprout some serious talent after fleeing Beverly Hills—the movie is helped further by director Billy Hayes’ thriller-style pacing and brutal fight scenes. And Hayes should certainly know something about gritty lifestyles: His seven years served in a Turkish prison for drug trafficking were the inspiration for Alan Parker’s 1978 film Midnight Express. —Sean Daly

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

We Need You…to Become a Filmmaker

This presentation about women in the movie industry includes pre-talk screenings of Erin Greenwell’s 21, Courtenay Singer and Melanie Wood’s Changing Room, Paula Durette’s Ladies Tea, and Catherine Crouch’s Pretty Ladies: A Super8explosion. Afterward, Greenwell, Singer, Durette, and Pretty Ladies producer K.J. Mohr will discuss how they financed, shot, and promoted their films.

At 7 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Lez-Be-[Canadi]an: Women’s Shorts

This program of short films by Canadian directors includes Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan’s Lesbian National Parks and Services: A Force of Nature, Allison Mitchell and Lex Vaughn’s Bon Bon, and Cassandra Nicolaou’s Interviews With My Next Girlfriend.

At 9 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Sex and the Single Male

This 115-minute program of shorts examines the risks and rituals of gay courtship. It includes Brian Sloan’s Bumping Heads, Larry Lafond’s Gaydar, Steven Sprung’s Hotbod.com, Jorge Ameer’s Misguided Piss, and Randy Eisenberg’s Two Big Fags.

At 9 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

22

TUESDAY

21

Leigh, the 15-year-old protagonist of 21, has enough problems in her life without factoring in her attraction to her best friend, Jen. Her mother’s broke, her father enters and exits her life without warning, and her older brother’s an ass (though a funny one). Leigh’s only salvation is her diary, in which she describes the curve of Jen’s lips, fantasizes about a kiss, and analyzes each day’s interaction for a clue about that kiss’s probability. As played by Rachel Style, Leigh is hardly a poor-me girl who just needs to take off her glasses to reveal the beauty that no one’s yet noticed. She’s a typical teen, kind of gangly and awkward, and writer-director Erin Greenwell adds details such as Leigh’s love of big-band music to give her a beyond-her-years quality that makes her easy to cheer for. At 50 minutes, 21 is a slight slice of life, but one that skillfully combines humor and pathos to make it more satisfying than many of its full-length, big-budget counterparts. —Tricia Olszewski

At 6 p.m. at the DCJCC. Free.

Blue Gate Crossing

It’s almost a familiar story: High-schooler Yuezhen Lin (Liang Shu-hui) has a crush on swim-team member Shihao Zhang (Chen Bo-lin) and asks her best friend, Meng Kerou (Guey Lun-mei), to be the intermediary. Kerou and Shihao actually hit it off, making Yuezhen jealous. But Kerou merely likes Shihao—she loves Yuezhen and kisses Shihao just to prove to herself that boys don’t excite her. Taiwanese director Yee Chih-yen’s film is not a triumphal coming-out saga but a delicate, atmospheric anecdote whose tone conveys the tentative emotions of adolescence. Both opening and closing with Kerou’s attempts to imagine the future, the movie gently captures teenagers’ sense of suspended animation. There’s a rock-band-at-the-beach scene and the girls dance to Frente!’s “Accidentally Kelly Street,” but Blue Gate Crossing could hardly be less like a Top 40-scored American teen flick. —Mark Jenkins

At 7 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Out of Sight:

Boys Shorts

This program of short films by male directors includes Canadian director Jeremy Podeswa’s Touch, British director Robert Farrar’s Sunday Morning, and American director Steven Clar’s Piss.

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

You 2:

Lesbians in Love

and Out

This program of shorts explores the ups and downs of making it and breaking it in lesbian love. Included are American director Jennifer McGlone’s Breaking Up Really Sucks, American director Kimberly Orr’s Goodbye, and Dutch director Pascale Simmons’ You 2.

At 9 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Food of Love

Based on David Leavitt’s novel The Page Turner, Ventura Pons’ film follows 18-year-old Paul (Kevin Bishop) as he begins an affair with his lifelong idol, pianist Richard (Paul Rhys). Both Paul’s mother, Pamela (Juliet Stevenson), and Richard’s manager, Joseph (Allan Corduner), threaten the emerging relationship in this new feature by the director of Anita Takes a Chance.

At 9:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

23

WEDNESDAY

Fun in Boys Shorts

This program of shorts looks at the fun and folly of being a teenage gay guy. Included are Canadian director Aaron Langvand’s A Cowboy’s Fairytale, American director Daniel Wascou’s Passing Resemblance, and American director Ernesto Foronda’s The Favor.

At 6 p.m. at the DCJCC. Free.

No Secret Anymore

American director Joan E. Biren’s film traces the lives and love of ’50s lesbian activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first public organization for lesbians in the United States.

At 7 p.m. at the DCJCC.

P.S. Your Cat Is Dead

In the real world, talentless Steve Guttenberg, whose grating performances have sunk more than three dozen features, would be collecting unemployment. But the reel world is more forgiving. The actor directed, co-scripted, co-produced, and stars in P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, a belated, misbegotten screen adaptation of James Kirkwood Jr.’s coyly bisexual ’70s novel and play. Guttenberg—mugging, whining, bellowing—is the focal point of nearly every shot as Jimmie, a failed L.A. actor-writer (big stretch!) who, on New Year’s Eve, loses his live-in girlfriend and captures Eddie (Lombardo Boyar), the Latino robber who, twice before, has burgled his apartment. After hogtying Eddie over the kitchen sink with his butt exposed—a touch of sitcom S&M—ostensibly straight Jimmie ponders appropriate retribution. A series of dialogues ensue in which Eddie’s unabashed sexuality awakens appetites that Jimmie has hitherto repressed. In a misguided strategy to open up what is essentially a stagebound two-hander, Jimmie leaves the apartment for brief visits to a neighborhood market and a party at the home of his domineering aunt, excursions that dilute the flimsy tensions of Kirkwood’s play. Marred by jarring shifts in tone from slapstick to bathos, P.S. Your Cat Is Dead is a mess, redeemed only by newcomer Boyar’s canny underplaying. Reel Affirmations might have been wiser to revive the entertainingly excruciating Can’t Stop the Music, the 1980 Guttenberg disco musical notorious for the worst-concealed gay subtext in Hollywood history.

—Joel E. Siegel

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Between Two Women

In working-class Huddersfield in the ’50s, a woman took care of the house and the children and had tea ready for her husband when he got home from the mill. Much to Geoff’s annoyance, his wife, Ellen (Barbara Marten), starts dallying at their son Victor’s school, chatting with his teacher, Kathy (Andrina Carroll), as Victor draws. Perversely proud of his working-class hopelessness, Geoff (Andrew Dunn) doesn’t like Ellen talking to educated women, or for either Ellen or Kathy to encourage Victor to think he can be an artist rather than a factory worker. The two women become closer as Geoff gets angrier, but when the family returns from a tense seaside vacation, Ellen finds that Kathy has mysteriously left town. Kathy’s affection for her new friend, though only discreetly hinted, was apparently more than she could endure. Steven Woodcock’s film is impeccably low-key, evoking the drab, circumscribed lives of north-of-England factory towns almost too well. The only break in the psychic weather is a final plot development that seems incongruously sunny.

—Mark Jenkins

At 9 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Days

Thirtyish, HIV-positive Claudio (intense, dark-browed Thoms Trabacchi, a ringer for the young Montgomery Clift) leads a meticulously ordered existence, circumscribed by his job as a bank manager, his comfortable longtime domestic partnership with his lover Dario (Davide Bechini), rigorous gym workouts, and the exacting regimen of medications required to support his immune system. But a capricious sexual encounter with a handsome stranger in a public park changes everything. When Claudio accidentally re-encounters the young man, Andrea (Riccardo Salerno), in a restaurant, they embark on a tempestuous (and unprotected) affair marked by a spontaneity that Claudio has never before permitted himself to experience. Director Laura Muscardin chronicles her protagonist’s days in a mosaic of crisp, tersely edited vignettes, capturing Claudio’s troubled relationships with his concerned doctor, taunting friends, and emotionally volatile veterinarian sister. (Many of the sequences fade to blue, in homage, perhaps, to a work by the late Derek Jarman, the British filmmaker who died of AIDS.) The sex scenes in this intelligent, complex, and artful movie vibrate with a palpable passion rarely captured onscreen, underlined by the unspoken horror of a virus that can transform the ultimate expression of love into a death sentence. Marred only slightly by an abrupt ending that resolves matters too neatly, Days is arguably the finest AIDS-themed film to date.

—Joel E. Siegel

At 9 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

24

THURSDAY

The Day I Decide:

Transgender Youth

Shorts

This program of short films explores the difficulties facing transgender teens. Screening: Dutch director Ingeborg Jansen’s The Day I Decided to Be Nina, American director Preeti A.K. Mistry’s Junk Box Warrior, and American director Sam Zolten’s Just Call Me Kade.

At 6 p.m. at the DCJCC. Free.

For the Love of Funny: Women’s Shorts

This program of short films looks at the lighter side of lesbianism. It includes Brooke Keesling’s Boobie Girl and Lee Friedlander’s The 10 Rules (A Lesbian Survival Guide).

At 7 p.m. at the DCJCC.

The Sea

A powerful smell of Catholic guilt and blood hangs over this cryptic, slow-moving Spanish-language feature, but even that doesn’t make it sexy. Orphaned Ramallo (Roger Casamajor) grows up headstrong and handsome. Years later, suffering from TB, he settles into a island sanitarium, where he runs into conflicted childhood friend Manuel (Bruno Bergonzini), who adores Ramallo, and a sweet-faced girl training to be a nun. What follows is cryptic and oppressive: tattoos, petty crimes, an off-screen bull-goring, and much boyish talk about heterosex while the feelings of homosex stir. And that’s it, except for the necrophilia. And the ax murder, the suicide, and the rape, which comes with a side of stabbing. And the part in which Manuel affixes Ramallo’s clothes to the wall in cruciform and gets stigmata from humping them. For its own elusive purposes, The Sea makes Catholics and homosexuals both look like decadent perverts.

—Arion Berger

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

By Hook or by Crook

This film by American directors Harry Dodge and Silas Howard follows two lesbians as they trek across the United States in search of family and fortune.

At 9 p.m. at the DCJCC.

Sex and the Not-So-Single Male

This program of short films examines breaking up, and making up, as a gay man. Includes Canadian director Mike Hoolbloom’s In the City, German director Lutz Lemke’s The Last Blow Job, and German director Angela Popp’s Last Supper.

At 9 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

25

FRIDAY

Fun in Girls Shorts

This program of short films looks at the trials of being a teenage lesbian, from training bras to first girlfriends to prom. It includes Carolyn Caissi and Laura Rodriguez’s Camouflage Pink, Michael Apted’s Lipstick, and Christine Russo’s Size ‘Em Up.

At 6 p.m. at the DCJCC. Free.

Fish & Elephant

Chinese director Li Yu’s film follows two young lesbians trying to come to terms with their sexuality in a small rural town.

At 7 p.m. at the DCJCC.

You’ll Get Over It

The setup of French director Fabrice Cazeneuve’s feature is brimming with cliches: Vincent (Julien Baumgartner), a model student with a pretty, loving girlfriend and a future as a champion swimmer, also has a deep, dark secret; the school he attends is also home to a frequently harassed gay teacher who empathizes with Vincent’s plight; Vincent’s family members just don’t understand him—and how can they when he doesn’t open up to them? Vincent’s secret, of course, is that he’s gay; when new student Benjamin (Jeremie ElkaIm) accidentally kisses him in view of his friends, he’s forced to acknowledge his homosexuality and face the mostly ugly consequences. Though You’ll Get Over It generally goes in the direction you’d expect, there are some welcome surprising turns along the way, such as Vincent’s laughing in the gay teacher’s face when he admits his own homosexuality and offers to befriend the student. (OK, it may not be mature, but at least it’s different.) Baumgartner plays the conflicted Vincent with a quiet intensity, and the rest of the cast members—especially Julia Maraval as Vincent’s alternately understanding and angry girlfriend—possess a maturity that’s conspicuously absent in similar tales involving their American counterparts. —Tricia Olszewski

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Guardian of the Frontier

For pretty Slovenian college students Alja, Zana, and Simona, summer vacation means an overly symbolic trip: canoeing down the Kolpa, the river that separates their prosperous little country from devastated Croatia. Rambunctious Alja (Tanja Potocnik) and Zana (Pia Zemljic) are good friends—and perhaps something more—so it’s not quite clear why they invited prim Simona (Iva Krajnc) to join them. All three are slightly spooked by the rumor that a killer is on the loose, but after they hit the river—to the tune of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World”—it’s Simona who has the hardest time controlling her thoughts. Is the guy she keeps seeing an outdoorsman, a cop, a politician, or the killer? “It’s not natural,” is the refrain of director Maja Weiss’ first feature, and it’s clear that for her, “tradition” is more threatening than three young women messing about in a boat. Her climactic expression of this idea, alas, is a muddle.

—Mark Jenkins

At 9 p.m. at the DCJCC.

A.K.A.

British writer-director Duncan Roy’s A.K.A. offers an intriguing formal experiment. Picking up where The Thomas Crown Affair and other split-screen ’60s Hollywood features left off, Roy has designed his two-hour narrative as a visual triptych: a horizontal strip of three video-shot images. At times, he shows us a single event from three different angles; at others, a trio of separate episodes or one scene temporally fractured. Unfortunately, this arresting device, as well as some striking location photography in England and France, is largely squandered on a soapy saga about Dean (Matthew Leitch), a good-looking 18-year-old working-class boy who assumes a false identity to hobnob with the upper crust. He soon charms snobbish Lady Gryffoyn, one of his waitress mother’s customers, into giving him a job in her art gallery. Having acquired a posh accent and some wealthy admirers, he moves to Paris, where he pretends to be Lady G’s son and latches onto a middle-aged English sugar daddy (George Asprey) and his youthful American plaything (Peter Youngblood Hills, doing an uncanny impersonation of early Warren Beatty). But Eurotrash high life, with its drugs, discos, and casual sex, proves to be Dean’s undoing, and he ends up far worse than he began. This class-conscious fable of innocence and corruption is cheesily predictable at nearly every juncture, but its presentation imparts a panoramic appeal that keeps it consistently watchable.

—Joel E. Siegel

At 9:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Down & Out

With the Dolls

Down & Out With the Dolls has all the manic energy, silly camera twirls, and nonlinear mayhem of your basic Monkees episode. Unfortunately, Micky Dolenz & Co. were significantly more convincing as both musicians and actors than the women who gear up as the fun-loving Paper Dolls. Naive Kali (Nicole Barrett), prudish Lavender (Melody More), wild-child Reggie (Kinnie Starr), and prima donna Fauna (Zoe Poledouris) attempt to overlook their vastly different lifestyles, move into a group house, and conquer the Portland, Ore., punk-pop scene. Most of director Kurt Voss’ 88-minute party flick is dedicated to the ho-hum battle between virginal Kali and mattress-backed Fauna as they both try to woo a homely Next Big Thing rocker named Levi (Coyote Shivers). Fauna will win, of course, because she gets naked in a hurry, but Kali is too sweet not to get a well-deserved last laugh. (As for Levi, he gets the nastiest part of a somber sex, lies, and electrocution finale that betrays the playfulness of the rest of the movie.) Down & Out is saved from being a total washout by bong-toting bisexual Reggie, who, when she isn’t keeping time on the skins, is using her sleepy smile to make time with an assortment of female fans. Also, keep an eye out for MotOrhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, who shows up sporadically as a besotted sage who inexplicably lives in a closet.

—Sean Daly

At 11 p.m. at the DCJCC.

26

SATURDAY

In the Name of Allah

American director Parvez Sharma’s documentary examines the experiences of gay and lesbian Muslims living in Pakistan, India, Morocco, Indonesia, and the United States.

At 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

That’s My Face

American director Thomas Allen Harris’ documentary relates the story of his mother and grandmother’s search for their African ancestry. Screening with Complete Abandon, director Kirk Shannon Butts’ documentary about a young black man involved in a relationship with a white police officer.

At 3 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Under One Roof

American director Todd Wilson’s film follows the blossoming relationship between two Chinese-American neighbors.

At 5 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

The Journey to Kafiristan

When ethnologist Ella Maillart and writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach leave their native Switzerland for the “Hindu Kush” (that is, Afghanistan), viewers of this docudrama know something the travelers don’t: It’s 1939, so the women’s expedition is unlikely to be completed before war begins in Europe, disrupting research projects around the globe. Moody Annemarie (Jeanette Hain), who has a taste for morphine and prefers men’s clothing, and more pragmatic Ella (Nina Petri) make their way through the vast, mostly empty landscapes of Turkey and Persia before learning that Germany has invaded Poland. There’s an erotic tension between them, but the one moment of release comes when Annemarie seduces Jale, the daughter of the Turkish ambassador to Tehran. Much “scientific” talk about inferior races set the tone for ’30s European research on the mysterious Orient, so perhaps directors Fosco Dubini and Donatello Dubini’s clinical style is apt. Based on Maillart’s memoir The Cruel Way: Two Women and a Ford in Afghanistan, the film is scenic but chilly.

—Mark Jenkins

At 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

The Trip

Writer-director Miles Swain’s feature debut is a bargain of sorts—three cliche-laden movies for the price of one. The film begins in 1973 as a coming-out comedy. In the course of researching a homophobic, right-wing book, Young Republican writer Alan (Larry Sullivan) falls for gay activist Tommy (Steve Braun). Swain then leaps to 1977 and socio-political commentary as Alan discovers, to his horror, that the manuscript he long ago disowned has been published, destroying his relationship with Tommy and initiating an ill-advised liaison with older conservative lawyer Peter (Ray Baker). Then Swain jumps to 1984 and AIDS melodrama: Alan learns that Tommy is critically ill, dumps his domineering protector, and reunites with his ex-lover for a long-ago planned road trip, leading to a fadeout filched from Midnight Cowboy. Braun enlivens his role as Tommy with offbeat charm, but Sullivan can’t come up with a strategy to make uptight Alan much more than a one-dimensional narrative device. Alexis Arquette, without whose participation no gay film festival could exist, turns up as Tommy’s tart-tongued, Eve Arden-ish best friend, but The Trip’s liveliest moments are contributed by its female supporting players. Sirena Irwin has a field day as Alan’s cast-off girlfriend, reinventing her appearance and persona in each of the movie’s time periods, and Jill St. John whoops it up as Alan’s Auntie Mame-like mom, looking creepily unchanged since her screen debut nearly a half-century ago. But best of all is a vintage news clip of Anita Bryant, interrupted in the midst of a homophobic rant by a pie-wielding activist.

—Joel E. Siegel

At 9 p.m. at the

Lincoln Theatre.

27

SUNDAY

The Laramie

Project

This feature by Venezuelan playwright-director Moises Kaufman recounts the true story of a New York City theatrical troupe that traveled to Laramie, Wyo., to query residents about the brutal 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. The cast includes Christina Ricci, Steve Buscemi, Laura Linney, Peter Fonda, and Amy Madigan.

At noon at the Lincoln Theatre. Free.

For Men Only

Love, love, love. For all the full frontal nudity and dirty talk, the subjects of these man-on-man short subjects are love triangles, passionate pursuits, and romantic destiny. In the talky British short Stag, two friends hash out their one-night stand. The trouble is, they believe themselves to be straight with the same equanimity with which they believe themselves to be destined for one another—and one of them is about to be married. David Kittredge’s funny and charming Target Audience depicts two college-age boys zoning out to a midnight horror movie. One has fallen asleep, but the other ends up watching, with varying degrees of disgust and fascination, an infomercial for homosexuality called “It’s Great to Be Gay.” The corporate-motivational show within the short is a scream (“I tried being homosexual, but I just wasn’t fabulous enough,” an interviewee says mournfully), and you can imagine the rest. In Gerald McCullouch’s artfully constructed but hopelessly old-fashioned The Moment After, a man experiences his birthday on a wild bus ride surrounded by madcap friends through the prism of miserable birthdays past, with tragic consequences out of a ’50s dime novel. The Last Blow Job, a glowingly handsome German short, is a conversation between two men who work to defuse a car bomb while dealing with one of the team member’s romantic discontent. It’s tense and deliberately not comic, and it gives a new meaning to the concept of a love affair blowing up in one’s face. Alexander Pfeuffer’s Breakfast, also German, follows the footloose adventures of a heedless bisexual hottie and his more serious, seriously devoted friend through the clubs and nightscapes of Berlin, with the mundane ritual of breakfast standing in for romantic stability. This program also includes Lino Escarela’s Space 2 and Tony Krawitz’s Into the Night.

—Arion Berger

At 2 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Zus & Zo

Dutch director Paula van der Oest’s strenuously up-to-date comedy sets three sisters—refugee-magnet Michelle (Sylvia Poorta), sex-tips writer Sonja (Monique Hendrickx), and confrontational artist Wanda (Anneke Blok)—on a quest to thwart little brother Nino’s marriage. Nino (Jacob Derwig) is gay, so he must be marrying Bo (Halina Reijn), a curvaceous art critic, only to fulfill his late father’s terms for inheriting the family’s small hotel in Portugal. The sisters treasure the place as a refuge and a repository of childhood memories, and Nino intends to sell it. The women try to scuttle the wedding by driving Nino and Bo apart, but none of their gambits work. It turns out, for one thing, that Bo knows her future husband is gay. Then it occurs to someone to call Nino’s ex, a TV chef for whom he still pines. Meanwhile, guess which sister’s hubby is cheating, and with whom, and who’s pregnant? Connoisseurs of the it’s-all-too-much farce may be amused, but the film would have benefited from more characterization and fewer complications.

—Mark Jenkins

At 4 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

A Woman’s a

Helluva Thing

American director Karen Lee Hopkins’ film follows the relationship of men’s-magazine publisher Houston (Braveheart’s Angus MacFadyen) and his ex-girlfriend Zane (The Relic’s Penelope Ann Miller) after Houston discovers that Zane had been shacking up with his mother.

At 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre. $10.

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