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Philadelphia G&L ready to celebrate 10th

From July 15-27, the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will celebrate its tenth anniversary as the premier showcase of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered cinema in the region. Now the largest such event in the eastern United States, the Festival will present more than 150 features, documentaries, shorts and related events, ranging from gentle comedies for entire families to controversial dramas strictly for mature audiences.

The Festival will also bestow three Artistic Achievement Awards – the most ever in one year. The recipients are British actor-director Alan Cumming, Philadelphia-born producer-director Lee Daniels, and American actor-writer Guinevere Turner. As the first African-American to receive a PIGLFF Artistic Achievement Award, Mr. Daniels will also participate in a special nine-film focus on multiculturalism within the gay and lesbian community. The Festival will further show a slate of international films that explore gay marriage and parenting.

There are several events to mark the Festival’s anniversary, but the true focus of the celebration are the films themselves. “This year’s programming is the strongest we have had in years, both in its depth and breadth,” says Artistic Director Ray Murray. “Queer cinema had seemed adrift lately, but this year offers the most mature and assured filmmaking I have seen in some time. I’m especially pleased to see filmmakers of color increasingly find their voice, as are filmmakers from such surprising countries as Israel, Russia and South Africa.”

A total of 22 countries will be represented in the Festival, which has 134 individual screenings of 51 features, 22 full-length documentaries, and 64 shorts, plus two special presentations, two panel discussions, two filmmaker conversations and nearly two dozen receptions and parties.

More than fifty corporations, businesses, media companies and agencies are sponsoring the Festival, led by TLA Entertainment Group with its three subsidiaries (TLA Video Stores, and TLA Releasing) and Avis, followed Absolut Vodka, Amtrak, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Film Office and Spirit Airlines.

The Festival will hold screenings in four different venues, beginning with its headquarters, the Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut Street), which will host the July 15 Opening Night screening of Touch of Pink, a romantic comedy, and the July 26 Closing Night screening of D.E.B.S., an action comedy.

PROGRAM FOCUSES: There are several themes and focuses running throughout the Festival:

Coloring the Rainbow: This year is witnessing a surge of quality films by, for and about gay and lesbian people of color. The Festival will show nine such films, including the following:

· Brother To Brother: A Centerpiece Screening and a New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival award winner, Rodney Evans’ film follows the struggles for love and self-respect faced by a painter in the present and a poet during the Harlem Renaissance (July 23, 24);

· Noah’s Arc: From Patrik-Ian Polk (Punks) comes the first episode of a series about the lives and loves of a group of LA African-American gay men that will be offered only on DVD (July 17, 18);

· On the Downlow: In this suspense-filled story by Tadeo Garcia, which also won at the New York festival, two men from rival Latino gangs in South Chicago have a secret romance (July 19, 20);

· Black Aura on an Angel: First-time filmmaker Faith Trimel presents a taut psychological thriller about two African-American women who fall in love, but then must deal with mental illness (July 18, 22);

· The Cookie Project: One Man’s Woman’s Transformation: Stephanie Wynne chronicles with startling frankness her transformation from a distraught straight family man to a happy lesbian (July 19).

Courting Controversy: Several films have already made headlines for controversial themes and explicit content:

· Harry and Max: Two brothers in boy bands begin an incestuous physical relationship (July 24, 25);

· The Child I Never Was: The true story of a German teen who seduced and killed younger boys (July 16, 18);

· The Raspberry Reich: Bruce LaBruce’s latest about a gang of urban sex-crazed terrorists (July 20, 22);

· Anonymous, Shiner and Turned Out: Films that graphically explore connections between sex and violence;

· American Eunuchs: A disturbing documentary about men who choose to mutilate themselves (July 25).

Finding Families: Filmmakers from around the world are contributing to the debate over gay marriages and parenting with both narrative and documentary films:

· Tying the Knot (US): This powerful dramatic documentary won an award at the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival for describing the importance of legal gay marriage by combining poignant personal stories with political debate in the US, Canada and the Netherlands (July 25);

· Almost There (Greece): An Israeli lesbian couple documents their journey for acceptance (July 18, 20);

· Bear Cub (Spain): Another Centerpiece screening, a middle-aged bear must raise his sister’s son, only to have his new family threatened by the boy’s paternal grandmother (July 17, 24);

· Moritz (Switzerland): A gay couple accepts guardianship of a neighbor’s young son, igniting a firestorm of homophobic panic in their village (July 25);

· Same Sex Parents (France): A straight teenager is frustrated with her mother’s closeted lesbianism, so she turns to her gay father for advice (July 16, 21).

PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS: Several individual films and programming events are particularly noteworthy:

· Staged Reading with Scott Thompson: Todd Stephens (Gypsy 83) hosts a staged reading of his latest screenplay, “Another Gay Movie,” a comedy about four young gay men trying to lose their virginity. The cast includes Scott Thompson (“Kids in the Hall,” “The Larry Sanders Show”) (July 26);

· Frank DeCaro’s “Flaming Screens:” The fabulously flamboyant film critic Frank DeCaro (“The Daily Show”) follows up on his earlier clips show “Absolut Best” with a hilariously irreverent exploration of “hidden” gay subplots in such respectable fare as Star Wars, The Exorcist, Gladiator and The Perfect Storm (July 17);

· A Home at the End of the World: In the Festival’s third Centerpiece Screening, Michael Cunningham follows up on The Hours by adapting for screen his first novel, the story of a gay romantic triangle, that stars Colin Farrell, Sissy Spacek, Robin Wright Penn and Dallas Roberts and directed by Michael Mayer (July 23);

· Wild Side: Out French filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz (Come Undone) directs the fourth Centerpiece Screening, a slice-of-life film about an unorthodox romantic trio: a transgendered woman, an illegal Russian immigrant and an Arab hustler (July 21, 25);

· Gay Gore: The Festival presents perhaps the first-ever slasher flicks for gay and lesbian audiences –HellBent, about a machete-wielding devil who slices up West Hollywood boys on Halloween (July 24, 25), and Make a Wish, about a women’s weekend camping trip with a murderer in their midst (July 17, 24);
· Premieres: Derek Jarman: Life as Art, Moritz, Private Diary (North American); Immediate Boarding, Twisted (US), Annie Sprinkle’s Amazing World of Orgasm, Clara’s Summer, The Cookie Project, The Graffiti Artist, HellBent, The Lost Generation, Testosterone (East Coast).

Going Straight to the Festival: Several films have a wider appeal, so festival-goers can bring their straight friends:

· Callas Forever: Franco Zeffirelli remembers his friendship with the great diva in this magical romp that imagines Callas making a comeback, starring Fanny Ardant, Jeremy Irons, and Joan Plowright (July 23, 25);

· Immediate Boarding: In this endearing film for all ages, an 11-year-old boy and girl meet as they’re shuttled between divorced parents in Sweden. They look exactly alike, so they decide to switch places (July 17, 18);

· Goldfish Memory: Love-starved young starved Dubliners of all sexual hues bounce from romance to romance in search of the perfect relationship (July 17, 18);

· Yes Nurse! No Nurse!: A deliciously quirky and campy retro-Hollywood farce complete with musical production numbers about a wacky Dutch rest home (think ”Faulty Towers” in wooden shoes) (July 24, 25).

SPECIAL EVENTS: Called the “sexiest gay and lesbian film festival” by Out and About Magazine, PIGLFF is famous for the events and parties that accompany its films. This year’s schedule includes:

· Opening Night Party: In honor of Touch of Pink, festival-goers are invited to celebrate Opening Night at Top of the Tower (1717 Arch Street), dressed in that particular shade (July 15);

· Multicultural Filmmakers Panel: a discussion of the struggles facing filmmakers who are both black or Latino and gay, featuring Artistic Achievement Award winner Lee Daniels, Tadeo Garcia (On the Downlow), Patrik-Ian Polk (Noah’s Arc), and Faith Trimel (Black Aura on a Blue Angel) (July 17, Arts Bank);

· Colton Ford at Shampoo: The retired porn star whose efforts to begin a singing career are documented in Naked Fame makes his solo debut at the dance club Shampoo (July 23, Willow Street between 7th and 8th);

· Gala Tenth Anniversary Party: Independence Seaport Museum (July 24, 211 S. Columbus Blvd);

· Gay History Panel Discussion: Following the screening of the documentary Gay Pioneers, three of its subjects – Frank Kameny, Lili Vicenz and Randy Wicker – will talk about their annual picket protests in front of Independence Hall from 1965-1969 (July 25, Prince Black Box);

· Artist Receptions: Several film and artist receptions are still being planned, including Lee Daniels and Noah’s Arc (July 17, Toto); Alan Cumming (July 19, Park Hyatt at the Bellevue); One Man Show (July 23, Astral Plane); and Harry and Max (July 25, City Tavern);

· Closing Night Awards Ceremony and Party: winners of the Jury Competition for Best Feature and Short Film (gay and lesbian) and Best Documentary, and the Audience Awards for Best Feature Film, Documentary and Short Film (gay and lesbian) will be announced by former Fox “Good Day Philadelphia” anchors Mike Jerrick and Donya Archer; the Closing Night Extravaganza will be a patio party at the restaurant Twenty21 (July 26, 2021 Market Street).

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