Fresh off its world premiere at SXSW, Malcolm Ingram (known best for his 2006 film “Small Town Gay Bar”) is likely to make the LGBT film fest circuit rounds with his latest film “Continental." And no, it’s not about the airline or a certain hotel breakfast. It’s basically about the social opposite of a small town gay bar -- New York City’s revolutionary Continental Baths, which ran from 1968 to 1975 and was basically the Ritz Carlton of bathhouses from its "Olympia blue" swimming pool to its disco featuring some of the best performers the early 70s had to offer. One of them was infamously Bette Midler, who got her break singing in the baths (with Barry Manilow -- often in just a towel -- accompanying her on piano). Though Midler is not one of the many talking heads featured in the film (unsurprising given she was quick to distance herself from the baths once she got more famous), Ingram's documentary is not simply about the many celebrities that either performed at the baths (LaBelle, The Pointer Sisters, Peter Allen, Lesley Gore and The New York Dolls among them) or passed through them at their peak (allegedly Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, Johnny Carson and Alfred Hitchcock all did -- seriously). It's about a fascinating institution that beyond being a really good time, really pushed forward gay visibility.
(directed by Darren Stein)
Isn’t about time that gay boys got their own version of "Mean Girls"? That's the reductive gist of Darren Stein's "G.B.F.," a high school comedy that puts the usual second (or third) banana role of the gay best friend front and center. Tanner (the adorable Michael J. Willett, in his film debut) is accidentally outed, becoming his high school's first openly gay student. The three most popular girls at school (Sasha Pieterse, Andrea Bowen and Xosha Roquemore) -- in a clear send up of the Heathers or the Plastics -- race to snatch him up as a “the new hottest accessory,” leading to Tanner's popularity skyrocketing while threatening his friendship with his own G.B.F. (and potential love interest), played by the hilarious (and also adorable) Paul Iacono. Though in large part a send-up of the genre of straight teenage romantic comedies it mirrors, “G.B.F.” also stands nicely as its own (rare) entity: A sharp, sweet gay teen rom-com.
Roger Ross Williams' harrowing doc takes us to Uganda, where LGBT people are facing a terrifying situation. A group American evangelical Christians have chosen the country -- which has Africa's youngest population -- as prominent location for their mission, joining forces with Ugandan religious leaders to fight "sexual immorality." And by fight, they mean help pass a so-called "kill the gays" bill -- which is exactly as disgusting as it sounds. Williams gains remarkable access to both the religious leaders and their communities, in addition to a few incredibly brave individuals (one of whom -- David Kato -- was suspiciously murdered during filming) who are fighting back against both the Americans trying to export their extreme beliefs to a vulnerable nation and the Ugandans who are supporting them. It’s a maddening and at times shocking experience but a wholly worthwhile one that should send you out of the theater ready to research whatever you can do to help this situation.