Wide Variety for LGBT Viewers at the 2013 RB Film Festival
This year, as always, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival will present an array of films with plotlines or subjects focusing on LGBT characters or experiences. From quirky comedy to serious melodrama, both domestic and international, there will be films that appeal to every taste within the LGBT community. Be sure to take note of the following “gay” films:
Breaking the Girls – USA
Director Jamie Babbit (Itty Bitty Titty Committee and But I Am A Cheerleader) gives us a super sex-charged, psychological thriller that will keep your heart pulsating. Gorgeous young law student Sara becomes friends with wealthy, beautiful Alex (Madeline Zima, Californication).
As they discuss the vixens that complicate their lives, Alex casually suggests killing them. Sara shrugs it off as a joke, but Alex isn’t kidding and the plot thickens. Babbit has cooked up a plot so deliciously twisted that, once in motion, it’s not clear where it’s going to lead.
Free Fall (Freier Fall) – Germany
A moving and sexy drama set in the world of a police force. Marc’s life is turned upside down when he becomes attracted to handsome, fellow police officer Kay. He is torn between his love for his pregnant girlfriend and his new and vibrant feelings. Kay suddenly disappears, leaving Mark with a deep void that sends him into a head-spinning free fall. Director/cowriter Stephan Lacant showcases the peculiar blend of homoeroticism and homophobia that exists in a mostly male environment. Most refreshing is that no character emerges as a villain, except perhaps a society that hinders people from being true to themselves.
Honeymoon (Libanky) – Czech Republic
The glorious, sun-filled wedding celebration of Radim and Tereza is shadowed by an uninvited guest from Radim’s past and the most disturbing gift he brings. Initially, Radim denies knowing Ales or the significance of the gift; but, intent on having Radim confront ghosts from the past, Ales tells the long and painful story to Tereza. Through a series of chilling events, Radim finally faces the darkness buried within. Honeymoon will keep you in suspense up to the climactic end. A magnificent score accentuates the beautiful cinematography. Directed by Jan Hrebejky, it crowns his loose trilogy beginning with Kawasaki Rose (2009) and Innocence (2011), whose characters also contend with dark memories of their past.
I Am Divine – USA
Growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s, Harris Glenn Milstead dreamed of living a glamorous life. Upon teaming up with emerging filmmaker John Waters, Milstead’s dream became reality. In the process, a fierce, unrepentant, instantly recognizable, and larger-than-life persona was born: the one and only DIVINE. Jeffrey Schwarz’s loving and definitive documentary takes us into Divine’s lifelong collaboration with John Waters, from the early underground films Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble to the mainstream breakthrough of Hairspray. We get an intimate look at Divine’s many overlapping private “lives”: as film star, cockette, recording artist, disco diva, and live performer who turned the drag world on its head! Schwarz’s expertly crafted film is a warm, emotional, and hilarious love letter to one of Baltimore’s true original “sons.”
I’m So Excited (Los Amantes Pasajeros) – Spain
An array of colorful characters comprise the passengers aboard a plane in Pedro Almodóvar’s bawdy, mischievous, comedy of bad manners. When the plane, headed for Mexico City, is found to have defective landing gear, the crew decides to forego panicking in favor of a mile-high party. Presiding over the party is a trio of flamboyant male flight attendants, squeezed into overstretched uniforms. With candy-colored exuberance that only an Almódovar film can have, you’ll receive a one-way ticket to binge-drinking, pill-popping and other such things people shouldn’t do with their seatbelt fastened. Be certain you will have a bumpy, but very fun ride that will ultimately let you roll in the aisle with laughter.
In Hiding (W UKRYCIU) – Poland
Ester, a young Jewish woman, hides in the home of Janina and her father during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Janina is drawn to Ester’s fun-loving and passionate zest for life. Loneliness and wartime fear bring them intimately close. As her erotic fascination gives way to an obsessive desire to keep Ester to herself at all costs, Janina refuses to tell her when the war ends and the Jews are liberated. In Hiding is a universal story with a unique, surprising twist. It portrays the passion, desperation and raw emotion that can make us renounce all moral inhibitions and the potential horrors that result from them. The two actresses give riveting performances that will linger with you long after the film ends.
In The Name Of (W Imie…) – Poland
This is a captivating story of a Catholic priest struggling to reconcile his deep faith with sexual desires he’s long fought to suppress. As pastor in a small rural parish, he oversees the parish’s center for troubled youth. He interacts with the boys by playing sports, overseeing manual labor, and lending a sympathetic ear as they deal with the dangers of their environment. A close friendship with one of the young men, who is nearly mute, develops into an attraction so strong it’s difficult to resist. Director Szumowska has crafted a beautifully textured and visually powerful work that takes a humane, non-judgmental look at the contradictions of Catholicism and sexuality. The film is an engaging portrait of confused emotions, longing and loneliness, leaving us with the hope that, in accepting our failings, there is a chance for happiness and self-acceptance.
The New Black – USA
In this eye-opening documentary, Yoruba Richen explores the complicated histories of the African American and LGBT civil rights movements. Set during Maryland’s 2012 elections, Richen captures opinions from those for and against same-sex marriage. A core group of activists and volunteers canvas Maryland, reminding people of the importance of the black voice being heard on the issue. A strong undercurrent emerges, examining homophobia and racism within the black community against the backdrop of political and religious agendas.
Richen skillfully illustrates the complexities and truths within an impassioned community making The New Black a film not to be missed.
Pit Stop – USA
Following the breakup of a gay affair, Gabe finds solace in the relationship he maintains with his ex-wife and daughter. Across town, Ernesto spends his days keeping vigil at the hospital bedside of his former lover. Gabe and Ernesto are two of the many often forgotten gay men living blue-collar lives in small-town America, far from the metropolitan centers of the gay world. Their story is told from the perspective of an observer, allowing us to experience the feeling of being an outsider. Their emotional isolation is captured in a poetic fashion. Director Yen Tan gives us a quiet film in which the protagonists never run from their hollow surroundings, but opt to fill their deepest voids with tenacious confidence. It received rave reviews at Sundance and Toronto.
Reaching for the Moon (Lores Raras) – Brazil
Filled with passion, sex, and sensuality, this beautiful film tells the true story of the hot and spicy relationship between New York poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo.
In 1951, Elizabeth takes a holiday to visit her friend Mary and Mary’s partner Lota at their estate in Brazil. Although frosty at first, Lota is drawn to Elizabeth, who soon succumbs to the architect’s advances. The unconventional Lota is determined to have both women at all costs, and for many years they live as family. Things change when Lota begins work on her biggest project, Rio’s Parque do Flamengo, and Elizabeth leaves to teach at NYU. Bishop’s poems are at the core of the film, which lushly illustrates a crucial phase in the life of this Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.
Stranger by the Lake (L’Inconnu du lac) – France
A lake in southern France finds men sunbathing, swimming, and hunting for anonymous sex. Handsome young romantic Franck becomes friends with obese middle-age Henri, but his eye and libido are more tickled by the mustache-sporting and dangerously lethal Michel. When Franck witnesses Michel drowning one of his conquests, he is surprised that his attraction doesn’t wane. Alain Guiraudie’s idiosyncratic, steamy mix of the comic and the tragic in this thriller was one of the most sexually explicit surprises at Cannes this year. Part love story, part noir murder mystery, the film depicts an idyllic mini-universe where murderer and silent witness have to abide by a set of peculiar codes and rituals. The graphic scenes of gay sex will grab headlines, but what is most impressive is the unique ambiance of eerie atmospherics that are at once crisp and observant, and oddly dreamlike (or nightmarish). It is a provocative and accomplished effort by one of France’s most overlooked auteurs.
Test – USA
It’s 1985 in the gay mecca of San Francisco, where Frankie works as an understudy with a modern dance troupe. While navigating through difficult challenges as the youngest member of the company, he begins a relationship with tenured dancer Todd. When Frankie is called to replace an injured dancer, Todd helps him prepare for this pivotal test of skill and character. As the two become more intimate, they navigate a world filled with risk, and a very different “test” looms on their horizon. Breathtaking new choreography, original music, and lush cinematography showcase the natural beauty of San Francisco in this extraordinary story full of nostalgia and wistful memories of a complicated time.
Two Mothers (Zwei Mutters) – Germany
Based on true-life experiences, writer/director Anne Zohra Berrached has created an honest and poignant portrayal of the difficulties that often face lesbian couples wanting to get pregnant.
Katja and Isabella painfully discover that sperm banks and fertility clinics will not treat them due to legalities, while private physicians charge exorbitant fees. In deciding to do home insemination, they embark on the most difficult search for a suitable sperm donor. Packed with thought-provoking writing, Berrached’s proficient direction of the nonprofessional cast creates mesmerizing chemistry between the two protagonists. Two Mothers stand out with a deep and intimate character study that chronicles a fervent lesbian couple as they pursue unorthodox measures to start a family.
Who’s Afraid Of Vagina Wolf? – USA
This is a funny, quirky, sexy romp that will surely make you laugh and warm your heart. As she turns 40, filmmaker Anna faces an existential crisis. Her life is going nowhere; the only work she can get is dancing while dressed in her trademark “Vagina” costume at venues showing her old films. She meets the sexy lesbian Katia, who motivates her to make a film based on Virginia Wolf. Smitten, she writes a screenplay, casts her long-time lesbian friends (Geinevere Turner and Carrie Preston of True Blood) and begins shooting. Soon, Anna’s neurotic insecurities blossom out of control, causing the project to fall apart. At an all-time low, she has nowhere to turn. Then surprisingly, someone shows up to help her renew her self-esteem. You will laugh with Anna as she prances around in her large pink Vagina costume and rejoice with her when she resurrects herself.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Ming Tian Ji De Ai Shang Wo?) –Taiwan
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? is a whimsical comedy that centers on couples navigating the rocky road of love amid emotional and sexual upheaval. Weichung left his past gay life for a traditional straight marriage, leaving him restless and unfulfilled. His sister Mandy, rather than marry, dumps her fiancé to pursue her dream of becoming a soap star. With an old friend encouraging him to return to his past gay life, Weichung encounters a handsome young flight attendant and can fight his urges no longer. Director Chen brings a light touch to the proceedings, peppering them with comedy and pop culture dialogue, creating a delicious cinematic confection that is never too sweet.
The following films, while not traditionally “Gay,” contain an LGBT character or plotline that is integral to the story but not the main focal point, or may contain relationships that are ambiguous and open to interpretation by the viewer. Nonetheless, they are rich and beautiful, filled with life and inspiration.
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth – USA
Absolutely breathtaking, this film takes us into the life and times of author and poet, Alice Walker. Alice herself is at the center of the interviews, along with Gloria Steinem, Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover and Angela Davis. Alice shares candidly about her ancestry, the civil rights movement, her novels The Color Purple and Possessing the Secret of Joy, and her relationship with singer Tracy Chapman. The film captures Alice’s serenity within the natural beauty of her rural home, making it a feast for the eyes and soul.
Beyond The Hills (Dupa Dealuri) – Romania
This visually stunning film, based on the non-fiction novels of Tatiana-Niculescu Bran, unfolds in a remote monastery where pious women work under the watchful eye of an austere priest.
Novitiate Voichta, is visited by her childhood friend Alina, who begs her to leave the convent and return to Germany. Voichta is not eager to leave, so protective Alina remains and the suspense begins. Inspired by an alleged case of demonic possession in Romania’s Moldova region in 2005, the film is an all-too-believable portrait of dogma at odds with personal liberty in a society still emerging from the shadow of Communism.
Kuma – Austria
This powerful and moving film tells the story of a young woman living in rural Turkey who is chosen to be the second wife of an older man at the request of his very ill but devoted wife. In a “faux” ceremony, she “marries” their handsome son, then is whisked off to Vienna to assume her duties as “Kuma” to the family. She develops a strong and loving bond with the dying mother which shatters when her own sexual urges can’t be controlled. Director Umut Dag’s description of the complex microcosm of a Muslim Turkish family living in Vienna is a sensitive exploration of deep-seated emotions.
Una Noche (One Night) – USA/Cuba
Three young Cubans scrounge up what’s needed to make the harrowing, 90-mile journey to the USA. First-time director Lucy Mulloy boldly explores a side of Havana never before seen on film. She displays an impressive visual flair and a grasp of the complexities and contradictions in the hearts and minds of today’s young Cubans. A section of the film is shot on water, which is as emotionally intense as it is technically impressive. With the Havana sun scorching and the ocean waves lapping, Una Noche is sensory, youthful, vibrant, and tense, building over the course of a single day to a shocking climax.