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Lesbian and Gay Film Festival opens with Quentin Crisp
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Lesbian and Gay Film Festival opens with Quentin Crisp

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

The Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (SLGFF) begins its 14th year with what is arguably its most diverse lineup yet, starting things off tonight at the Egyptian with a gala screening of the Quentin Crisp biopic An Englishman in New York. A pseudo-sequel to the 1975 British telefilm The Naked Civil Servant, two-time Academy Award nominee John Hurt reprises his acclaimed role as the late Gay icon, portraying him in his later years as he takes his first bites out of the Big Apple.

But this is just the first of 150 features, documentaries and shorts that will screen at 11 different Seattle locations, including the downtown landmark Cinerama, West Seattle's Admiral Theatre and even Capitol Hill eatery Cupcake Royale over the next 10 days. "The diversity of films in this year's festival is amazing," said Three Dollar Bill Cinema's programming director Jason Plourde in a recent press release. "Many filmmakers are showing that they're not afraid to take chances and are telling edgy and unique stories."

That diversity is reflected clearly in this year's Series Spotlight selections. "The Good, the Bad and the Butch" program attempts to reveal the complexities of Gay men, while the "Gimme a Beat" series offers up three feature-length productions showcasing the importance of music in LGBT lives. "Love on the Run" attempts to get the pulse racing and the adrenaline pumping with three female-driven thrillers, while "Going for the Gold" takes a look at the triumphs and struggles of Queer athletes competing to succeed.

The last Series Spotlight selection is usually one of its most popular; the "Local Connections" program making an unsurprising return. This year's entries include Waxie Moon, a documentary about the gender-bending "boylesque" performer, Travel Queeries, a travelogue doc that treks across Europe asking its various subjects how they identify themselves, while two shorts - the Hurricane Katrina melodrama After All That and the retrospective documentary Seattle in the Age of AIDS - round out the program.

Those with a taste for the sick and twisted world of John Waters will want to be first in line for "A Touch of Mink." Pop culture icon Mink Stole will be present to discuss her career and present her 1977 cult trash masterpiece Desperate Living, while audience members are free to engage in a little idol worship of their own with a lookalike contest. Other announced festival guests include former Cagney & Lacey star Sharon Gless, on-hand to present her Closing Night film Hannah Free.

Cine-oke is back with a West Side Story sing-along which will offer up plenty of opportunities for a musically challenged audience to rumble - let's just hope Officer Krupke remembers to bring his nightstick in order to keep things under control. The "Gay TV Dinner" returns for a third season, offering up a sci-fi themed two-episode program sure to have ticket buyers setting their phasers to stun.

There are a handful of notable films playing at SLGFF that made their first appearance earlier this year either at the Seattle International Film Festival or in a limited theatrical run. Of these, two are definite standout, the visceral and emotionally vibrant Israeli/Palestinian Gay bar documentary City of Borders and the funny, heartbreaking and absolutely fabulous fashionista biography Valentino: The Last Emperor. Other returnees include the coming of age melodrama American Primitive starring Tate Donovan and the hysterical locally produced horror-comedy ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction.

This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as this year's festival is concerned. But going into too much detail might just ruin the surprise. The fun of attending SLGFF is the discovery of potentially new films and filmmakers deserving of a spotlight they might not otherwise have ever received.

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