Philadelphia Gay Fest Draws Record Number of Attendees
by Claiborne Smith
Since its inception in 1995, the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (PIGLFF), which ended on July 22, has increased attendance annually, attracting a total of 26,665 attendees this year. Over a span of 13 days, festival organizers put on 115 screenings (53 features, 14 documentaries, and 66 shorts) that included five world premieres, seven East Coast premieres, and one North American premiere. PIGLFF is the largest gay and lesbian film festival in the eastern United States.
"Muriel's Wedding" director P.J. Hogan's "Unconditional Love" drew the biggest crowds (1,212 festival-goers). The romantic comedy stars Kathy Bates as Grace, a distraught woman whose husband (Dan Aykroyd) tells her he wants a divorce on the same day that her idol, singer Victor Fox (Jonathan Pryce), is murdered. C. Jay Cox's "Latter Days," about a vapid L.A. party boy who falls for a Mormon missionary, was the fest's opening night film, and drew 910 attendees at two screenings, while Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey's closing night feature "Party Monster," starring Macaulay Culkin as club kid and killer Michael Alig, drew in 853 people at two screenings. As planned, Barbato and Bailey attended the closing night screening of their film with actor Wilson Cruz ("My So-Called Life"), who plays slain drug dealer Angel Melendez, but director Larry Clark showed up at the last minute to attend the screening of his new film "Ken Park."
In the juried competition, the Spanish film "Bulgarian Lovers," Eloy de la Iglesia's first film in 15 years, won best gay male feature film, while the jury selected Sachi Hamano's "Lily Festival" as the festival's best lesbian feature. But audience members, who voted by paper ballot after each screening, thought that "Latter Days," which was recently named best first feature at the Los Angeles Outfest, was the best gay male feature film, and that "April's Shower," directed by Trish Doolan, was the best lesbian feature film.