While "Beyond The Candelabra" is currently gaying-up Cannes in a very big way (check out our report from the film's press conference here), most of us will be waiting until next Sunday night to watch the Liberace biopic on HBO. However, once Cannes comes to a close there will be all sorts of gay heading to film festivals that are actually near you: The summer queer film festival nears!
At the end of May, cities around North America will offer summertime fun in the form of the best LGBT cinema from the past year. Here's 10 of the most notable: Inside Out (May 23-June 2 in Toronto), Out Twin Cities Film Festival (May 29-June 2 in Minneapolis and St. Paul), Film Out San Diego (May 29-June 2), Provincetown (June 19-23, and not explicitly a LGBT fest but come on... it's in Provincetown), Frameline (June 20-30, its 37th edition!), Outfest (July 11-21), Philadelphia QFest (July 11-22), Damn These Heels! LGBT Film Festival (July 12-14 in Salt Lake City), QFest Houston (July 25-29), Vancouver Queer Film Festival (August 15-25) and finally NewFest (New York's LGBT fest recently moved to September 6-11 for its 25th edition, which is technically still summer).
Not all of the festivals have yet to announce their programs (click on the above links for more information in that regard), but it's likely they will have considerable crossover content. Which is not a blow to programmers, but simply a fact that each of these festivals aim to bring the best LGBT films from Sundance, Berlin, SXSW and the like to regional audiences, and there are rarely more than 20 good films in that regard in each year (if that). This year there are at least 10 as far as this writer is concerned, all of which are listed below (and before you rage up the comments, I'm aware that this list leans considerably toward films by and about gay men -- which is sadly more an issue of a lack of good content outside of that representation than me deliberately excluding quality L or T film).
Happy summer LGBT film festivaling:
One of the biggest and often ignored issues facing LGBT communities today and tomorrow is the fact that there is a rapidly aging population within them that is not properly being cared for. In the United States -- where PJ Raval’s documentary takes place -- there are an estimated 2.4 million LGBT Americans over the age of 55. As a demographic, they are five times less likely to access social services than their heterosexual counterparts, half as likely to have health insurance coverage, and 10 times less likely to have a caretaker if they fall ill. And unfortunately there is not much attention being paid to them by their younger LGBT counterparts (or anyone else, for that matter). Which is one of the reasons that PJ Raval's documentary "Before You Know It" is such a crucial new edition to the LGBT doc canon. Following three different LGBT seniors each facing a different array of issues, it affectingly personifies an increasingly forgotten generation of queer folks (and makes you want to become friends with all of them).
"C.O.G." (directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez)
The first film to ever adapt the work of gay literary icon David Sedaris, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s “C.O.G.” manages to both do justice to Sedaris' unique voice and sense of humor while giving it a stamp of the director’s own. Based on an essay from Sedaris's 1997 collection "Naked," both the literary and cinematic versions of "C.O.G." detail the experience Sedaris himself (played by the wonderful Jonathan Groff in the film) had when he travelled to rural Oregon to work as an apple picker. Through encounters with a glorious variety of locals, the twentysomething Sedaris came to considerable revelations about his religion ("C.O.G." stands "Child of God," an acronym that one of those said locals proudly self-identifies with) and sexuality. Expanding on those two themes, Alvarez makes good on the promise of his 2009 directorial debut "Easier With Practice," keeping Sedaris fans happy in the process.
While this list is indeed largely of the male variety, Stacie Passon’s “Concussion” more than helps make up for that. The story of a suburban lesbian housewife (an amazing Robin Weigert), “Concussion” is likely to be dubbed “the lesbian hooker movie.” But it’s so much more than that. While indeed Weigert’s character decides to secretly become a prostitute for women behind the back of her wife and kids, the film uses that context to explore a complex woman who implodes amidst the heteronormative lifestyle that crept up on her. Weigert plays Abby, a fortysomething lesbian who's married with two kids and lives in the New Jersey suburbia. But after being hit in the head by her son's baseball, Abby begins to unravel and through a series of events finds herself with a new double life: Lesbian housewife by night, high-end lesbian prositute by day. It's a sexy, uncomprising and unique take on the cinematic mid-life crisis that works in large part because of Weigert's peformance. It also offers what will likely be the hottest lesbian sex on a big screen this year.