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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 9, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 41
20TH ANNUAL SLGFF: Week One capsule reviews
Arts & Entertainment
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20TH ANNUAL SLGFF: Week One capsule reviews

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

The 20th annual Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (SLGFF) kicked off yesterday with a gala screening of the Lesbian drama Freeheld starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon and Steve Carell, but that's only the tip of the proverbial cinematic iceberg as far as the next ten days are concerned. Features, docs and shorts from around the globe will get their individual showcases at Seattle venues as varied as the SIFF Cinema Egyptian, the Northwest Film Forum and Pacific Place, and without question there will be something playing at some point guaranteed to get even the most casual cinemagoer excited.

Keeping with tradition, here are a handful of capsule reviews of a few of the films playing SLGFF's opening week. Additionally, I'm happy to welcome Paul Torres to the reporting team for the Seattle Gay News this year. Not only has he watched a number of the motion pictures getting showcases over the next ten days, he'll also be interviewing a few of the filmmakers responsible for their creation (his first, an in-depth discussion with Winning Dad director Arthur Allen, in this very issue of the paper). I'm excited to have him around, and personally can't wait to see what insights he's going to bring our paper's coverage.

With that formality out of the way ... on to this week's reviews!

A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile (10/11, 12:15 pm, Northwest Film Forum) A 'truth is stranger than fiction' documentary, this compelling look at a supposed kidnapping during the Arab Spring involving Syrian blogger Amina Arraf is one of the great 'Catfish' stories of our time. Director Sophie Deraspe uncovers a number of startling and intimate truths here, revealing a level of authenticity and truth amidst all the lies that is oftentimes shocking. ***1/2 (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Addicted to Fresno (10/10, 7:15 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) Director Jamie Babbit's latest Addicted to Fresno, reuniting the filmmaker with her Because I'm a Cheerleader star Natasha Lyonne, could be SLGFF's most disappointing entry. Even with stars Lyonne, Judy Greer and a way underutilized Aubrey Plaza giving everything they've got, this facile, humorless and unforgivably maudlin comedy-drama hybrid spends more time spinning its wheels desperately searching for a reason to exist more than it does anything else. Shockingly inept. *1/2 (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Beautiful Something (10/11, 7:00 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) This emotional, moody and lusty drama achingly delves into the masculine worlds of artists and models on the dark and shadowy streets of Philadelphia. Beautiful Something, directed by Joseph Graham, is an impressionistic and alluring fever dream. One remarkable and desperate night follows poet Brian (Brian Sheppard), sculptor Drew (Colman Domingo), and model Jim (Zack Ryan) around as they seek something true and beautiful. **** (Paul Torres)

Before the Last Curtain Falls (10/10, 2:15 pm, Northwest Film Forum) Through the sole use of music and movement, a troupe of dance/ballet performers that includes former drag queens in the 'autumn of their lives' stage their final cabaret retrospective show called 'Gardenia.' Before the Last Curtain Falls intercuts revealing one-on-one intimate interviews with the performers and exquisite scenes of 'Gardenia' with lush emotion-laden beauty. Director Thomas Wallmer vividly guides this documentary with respect and dignity like a sweet and yearning ballad. **** (Paul Torres)

The Celluloid Closet (10/10, 4:30 pm, 12th Avenue Arts - FREE) Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman marvelous, life-affirming documentary chronicling Hollywood's complex, intimate, sordid, humorous and sometimes tragic LGBT history returns for a rare theatrical presentation celebrating its 20th anniversary. As big a must-see event as any film screening during the entire festival. **** (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Desert Migration (10/13, 5:00 pm, Northwest Film Forum) Survivors of the AIDS epidemic flock to the dry climes of Palm Springs. In this desert, they find a life-affirming natural beauty and as sense of solace. Daniel F. Cardone directs this sweeping and enthralling testament of hope with exquisite cinematography and insightful interviews. Desert Migration is a moving documentary about men seeking a place to live and heal. ***1/2 (Paul Torres)

Drag Becomes Him (10/9, 7:00 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) Rather wonderful documentary revolving around Jerick Hoffer, a.k.a. celebrated Drag impresario and 'RuPaul's Drag Race' victor Jinkx Monsoon, filled with a number a sublime moments celebrating creativity and imagination in all its multifarious forms. Can feel a little slight at times, and admittedly the film never digs nearly as deep as it potentially could have, but the whole thing is so unabashedly good natured, and delightfully entertaining, these faults never quite matter near as much as they probably should. *** (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Dyke Hard (10/10, 11:45 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) Bitte Andersson's wild, rollicking action-horror-comedy-exploitation hybrid certainly isn't for the faint of heart or for those expecting a quaint little romp through female-driven punk rock clichés. But this delightfully weird Swedish import is so much fun, so outlandishly creative, so fearlessly politically incorrect, for those open to its ribald charms not enjoying all that outlandishly transpires is close to impossible. **1/2 (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Everlasting Love (10/13, 9:30 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) I'm not saying Spanish import Everlasting Love chronicling an impromptu love story between a teacher and his student gone all sorts of wrong is a bad movie, I am saying that I have no wish to ever watch, discuss, debate or think about it ever again. I'm not really sure what director and co-writer Marçal Forés' ultimate point was with this dank and dour melodramatic thriller, but what's up on the screen is so ill-conceived and poorly put together watching it is a colossal chore I dare anyone to try and sit through. * (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Fourth Man Out (10/9, 9:30 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) When young and good-looking auto mechanic Adam (Evan Todd) comes out to his three best bros, they take it as a new challenge to rally around him and offer support on dating advice despite some uneasiness to this new revelation. Poker night and bar hopping are now a little different, but prove to be the perfect time to bond and grow their friendships. Fourth Man Out, directed by Andrew Nackman, is a refreshing and delightful film that will put a smile on your face and warm your heart. *** (Paul Torres)

Margarita with a Straw (10/9, 7:00 pm, Northwest Film Forum) Sweet and naïve Laila (Kalki Koechelin) does not let her challenge of being in a wheel chair with cerebral palsy stop her from the experience of heartbreak, crushes, and love. In spite of being from a conservative Indian family, she develops a new crush with a blind female NYU co-ed. Margarita with a Straw, directed by Shonali Bose, takes Laila from New Delhi to New York City with her new awakenings in an emotional, heart-endearing tale of love and hope. ***1/2 (Paul Torres)

Portrait of a Serial Monogamist (10/14, 7:15 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) Elsie (Diane Flacks) is a wayward Toronto Lesbian in love with being in relationships. After her latest relationship has run its course, her friends are there with advice and ways to examine her life as a newly single woman. Should she go it alone? Should she commit to a sexy new woman in her life? The 'Lesbian drama' that ensues even becomes an in-joke in Portrait of a Serial Monogamist, directed by Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell. This film is a warm and comic look at modern Lesbian relationships and good old-fashioned love. ***1/2 (Paul Torres)

Reel in the Closet (10/14, 5:00 pm, Northwest Film Forum) One of the more surprising and enchanting documentaries to make their debut at this year's SLGFF, director Stu Maddux's exploration of LGBT home movies, many dating back all the way to the 1930s, is absolutely priceless beginning to end. Magical. ***1/2 (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story (10/12, 7:00 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) Chuck Holmes created the notorious Gay hunk-oriented Falcon Studios, a landmark in the porn industry. He used this notoriety to co-found the Human Rights Campaign and impact Democratic political interests. Michael Stabile's documentary traces the illustrious and quite humorous history with interviews that include director Chi Chi LaRue, porn star Jeff Stryker, and even Jake Shears and John Waters! Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story depicts a quirky, but significant landmark in gay history. *** (Paul Torres)

Summer (10/10, 9:30 pm, Northwest Film Forum) Endearing coming-of-age fairy tale out of the Netherlands featuring a star-making performance from Sigrid ten Napel as a 16-year-old discovering herself while her family is on summer vacation, this movie is so intimate, so heartfelt, so emotionally pure it doesn't matter a lick that by and large we've seen just about every single ounce of this countless times before. Beautifully shot, director Colette Bothof is a stunning, subtly cathartic winner I found myself thinking about long after it had come to an end. ***1/2 (Sara Michelle Fetters)

Tab Hunter Confidential (10/10, 12:00 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) Director Jeffrey Schwarz's superb documentary chronicling the Hollywood icon Tab Hunter returns after its successful Seattle International Film Festival debut, and any chance to see this excellent motion picture in a theatre is indeed worthy of a celebration. ***1/2 (Sara Michelle Fetters)

That's Not Us (10/11, 2:30 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) If the friends from 'Friends' in the 1990s took a ferry to a cabin in the woods by the water, we would have That's Not Us. This chatty film, directed by William Sullivan, observes three couples, one Lesbian, one Gay, and one straight as they explore their inner and outer worlds. A fun-filled, boozy retreat becomes a revealing weekend of new discoveries and new beginnings. *** (Paul Torres).

Winning Dad (10/13, 7:00 pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian) Colby fools his conservative dad into taking his boyfriend Rusty on an annual Pacific Northwest camping trip after he is unable to join him. His father thinks that Rusty is just a potential investor in his son's dream restaurant, not his potential future son-in-law. A trip meant to bond leads to a trip that undoes everything. Now, the family has to make things right for Colby and Rusty. Director Arthur Allen, who resides on Capitol Hill, directs a compelling family drama that examines the dynamic forces of dignity, respect and love. ***1/2 (Paul Torres)

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SEATTLE LESBIAN & GAY FILM FESTIVAL

An interview with SLGFF Festival Director Kathleen Mullen

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20TH ANNUAL SLGFF: Week One capsule reviews
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