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AGLIFF Opening Night

AGLIFF Opening Night

The 17th annual Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival (AGLIFF) began last night. I went to the Arbor in north Austin (my old neighborhood) to take part in the festivities of Opening Night.

There were two Opening Night films: Q. Allan Brocka’s Eating Out and Angela Robinson’s D.E.B.S. I decided to catch D.E.B.S., due to three facts: 1. I had recently met and really liked producer Andrea Sperling, 2. The short version was one of the best short films I saw at Sundance 2003, and 3. I had a ticket to the feature version at Sundance 2004, but missed it, probably because of a party of some sort…

I wasn’t disappointed. D.E.B.S. is an entertaining and often funny piece of work. It’s also a fairly original take in the landscape of “coming out” films. Basically, Robinson and Andrea have expertly set a moving lesbian love story in the middle of a tongue-in-cheek, Charlie’s Angels-style espionage popcorn movie. While the film sometimes borders on exploitation, it never exploits the themes of homosexuality.

From what I understand, the movie is between distributors right now. As is often the case with gay/lesbian cinema, no one’s quite sure how to market this, especially since it features a recognizable cast and very marketable genre conventions. In fact, I’m not surprised in the slightest that Angela Robinson’s next feature will be the Herbie the Love Bug remake for Disney. She has a great sense of direction and style for action sequences…

The after-party, sponsored by Tanqueray, was held at a tent outside the Arbor theater. Guests enjoyed cocktails and Mexican food. Plus, there were men in drag schoolgirl outfits (like in D.E.B.S.) passing out candy as folks entered. I was happy to chat briefly with Scott Dinger, the head of AGLIFF. This is Scott’s final year with the festival before he moves on to his next film adventure. Scott is an Austin film staple, especially because he owned and operated The Dobie Theater for years before selling it to Landmark.

During his ownership of Dobie, there were some legendary theatrical runs, including the revolutionary Slacker release, as well as Hands on a Hardbody a few years back. I really wish Scott all the best and look forward to seeing him for the duration of the festival, which runs the rest of next week.

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