06 June, 2008

Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Season In North America

The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Friday, June 5-----This being June, otherwise known as Gay Pride Month, it is the heart of the gay and lesbian festival season. Currently in New York and next week in San Francisco, the best new gay-themed films will be featured at the NewFest (New York) and the San Francisco Gay And Lesbian Film Festival, part of a year-round gay and lesbian film festival circuit that continues through the summer and into the Fall in such gay meccas as Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago and at least 50 other cities.

This festival circuit is not only an important event for the local community, but an opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their works for their core audience and to possibly find greater distribution among the U.S. distributors who specialize in gay and lesbian films (including Stand Releasing, Picture This Entertainment, Here! Films, Frameline, Wolfe Media and TLA Releasing).

Several European titles are currently circling the circuit. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela is by Icelandic director Olaf de Fleur. This unique film won the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award (considered the “gay Oscar”). Blurring the lines between fiction and reality, the film focuses on Raquela, a transsexual Filipina prostitute who dreams of escaping her harsh reality for a fairy tale life in the West.

From UK director Adrian Shergold comes Clapham Junction, an episodic film in which a number of separate stories weave together over the course of one long night. The film brings together the intimate stories of the celebration of a gay wedding, a young man devoted to his grandmother, a schoolboy lusting after an older man and a shocking hate crime. Intersecting in surprising ways, these strands form a provocative portrait of modern day gay life in London.

In German/Israeli co-production Japan, Japan, by director Lior Shamriz, a gay teenager settles in Tel Aviv, but dreams of moving to Japan. In his off hours, he cruises for boys and surfs porn, which creates an exotic, sexually graphic cyberspace landscape in parallel with his mundane daily routine. Japan begins to represent all his dreams, desires and aspirations.

Italian/Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek follows up his acclaimed film Steam with Saturn In Opposition, a bittersweet ensemble drama. In the finely acted film, a group of friends re-examine their lives and relationships in the wake of an unexpected tragedy. Partners Lorenzo and Davide host regular dinner parties for their diverse group of gay and straight friends – their chosen family. When the group faces a terrible loss, each deals with it in a unique way.

Set in South Africa in the 1950s, the UK/South African co-production The World Unseen by Shamin Sharif is a drama about a taboo love affair that develops unexpectedly between two Indian women. Rebellious café owner Amina defiantly dresses in trousers and shirts and makes her own rules. When she meets the more traditional Miriam, she is immediately smitten. The film won the Audience Award at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and is certain to be one of the most talked-about of the gay and lesbian film season.

The season for gay cinema is on and European films are among its most interesting discoveries.


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