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The Hot Summer Film Festival Preview: Which Movies You Shouldn’t Miss


Queer movie lovers begin the high holy days of cinema tonight in San Francisco as the annual Frameline San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival kicks off for 10 glorious days of cinematic gluttony. That other queer film behemoth, Outfest: The Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival runs from July 11-21 unspooling an equally full banquet of delights. Here’s a tip-of-the-iceberg preview of some of the most talked about titles on view at both festivals — many of which will also be playing at this summer’s numerous other LGBT film festivals in such cities as: Palm SpringsProvincetownHoustonLouisvilleDurhamBirminghamPhiladelphia and Kansas City.

Editor’s Note: Writer Jenni Olson also works for LGBT film distribution company Wolfe Video, which distributes several of these films. She is also the executive producer of Test.


This Sundance darling nabbed the opening slot at Frameline with its tale of Abby (Wow, she’s cute! Robin Weigert, Deadwood), a well-to-do suburban lesbian housewife who breaks away from her humdrum stay-at-home Mom routine after being hit in the head with a baseball. Abby’s dramatic midlife crisis suddenly expands from a redecorating project to turning tricks (shades of Bunuel’s Belle du Jour?). Written and directed by newcomer Stacie Passon and produced by accomplished lesbian director Rose Troche (Go Fish, The Safety of Objects), Concussion was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and took home the Teddy Jury Award from the Berlin Film Festival.



Another one from the Sundance pipeline, this Outfest opening night feature is notable as the first and only screen adaptation of the work of David Sedaris. C.O.G. stars Jonathan Groff (Glee’s Jesse St. James) as the irrepressible character of David, who crosses paths with a wacky array of characters when he travels to Oregon to work as an apple picker.



The closing night pick for both Outfest and Frameline, this star-packed comedy from Darren Stein (Jawbreaker) promises to be the big gay crowd-pleaser of the year. G.B.F. follows the exploits of closeted high school seniors Brent (Paul Iacono, Fame) and Tanner (Michael J Willett, United States of Tara) as they compete for the coveted achievement of coming out and being gay best friend (G.B.F.) to one of the school’s trio of popular girls. There are too many co-stars to list but Megan Mullally is among them and it sounds like a not-to-be-missed addition to the gay comedy canon.


Pit Stop

Another Sundance hit, Yen Tan’s one-of-a-kind drama about the complicated lives of two gay men in small-town Texas is a beautiful, frequently sad, but ultimately uplifting story that bears inevitable comparisons to Brokeback Mountain for its strong, silent and aching depictions of two men who love men and are determined to find real love. But better than Brokeback — they will break out of the closet and open the door to (Spoiler Alert but I’m going to say it) a genuinely happy ending.


Reaching for the Moon

This sumptuous English-language ‘50s period piece recounts the mid-life years of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop (played by Miranda Otto, Lord of the Rings) when she left America to live and write in Rio de Janiero — where she would also fall in love with well-off architect Lota de Macedo Soares (butched up to the hilt by beautifully handsome Brazilian TV star Gloria Pires). From renowned Brazilian director Bruno Barreto (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands), Reaching for the Moon looks to be one of the biggest lesbian films of the year.



An astutely crafted 1985 period drama set in the gay Mecca of San Francisco, Test lovingly portrays this uniquely exciting and harrowing era as young Frankie (spectacularly buff real-life dancer Scott Marlowe) navigates gay life in the big city alongside the travails of being an understudy in a modern dance company and his evolving relationship with fellow dancer Todd (the hunky Matthew Risch). It may sound like an odd thing to say but I think this is the first AIDS film in history with a happy ending.


Free Fall

It’s been called the German Brokeback Mountain for its portrayal of forbidden love between two police cadets — previously heterosexual Marc (Max Reimelt) and his roommate Kay (Hanno Koffler, Summer Storm). The film has been hailed for its exceptionally hot love scenes (and full-frontal nudity) as well as for its powerful dramatization of a passionate gay affair.


Hot Guys with Guns

This gay comedy-action-thriller co-stars Marc Samuel and Brian McArdle as thrown together gay ex-boyfriends out to solve an ominous Hollywood gay sex-party robbery! Promising an homage to classic detective movies with a completely gay overlay, Hot Guys with Guns looks to be a promising directorial debut from well-known out gay actor Doug Spearman (Noah’s Arc).

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The Campaign

Finishing just in time for Frameline (and bound to require some added footnotes arising out of the imminent SCOTUS announcement) documentarian Christie Herring presents the world premiere of this exhaustive account of California’s most harrowing real-life gay drama: Proposition 8. Replete with a deep dive into the history of the marriage equality movement and a blow-by-blow account of the twists and turns of the heinous ballot measure, The Campaign promises to be the best film yet on this American civil rights landmark.


I Am Divine

Packed with great interviews and clips (No, you don’t get to actually see the dog-shit eating scene), this dynamic, fun and often poignant portrait of the legendary Divine brings to life a complex understanding of John Waters’s favored muse, also known as: “the most beautiful woman in the world.” Brilliantly constructed by the king of the gay entertainment biographical documentary — Jeffrey Schwarz (Vito; Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon and the upcoming Tab Hunter Confidential).


Big Gay Love

Last year he charmed audiences as the fey gay sidekick in his hit comedy Gayby, this year the hilarious Jonathan Lisecki takes the spotlight as the insecure, overweight L.A. party planner who has everything a gay guy could want — except a boyfriend. Until dreamboat heartthrob Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Psycho Beach Party) arrives — to send his insecurity into overdrive. A good old-fashioned Hollywood romantic comedy primed to resonate with any gay man who has ever felt less than perfect. Anyone?



The long-awaited, massively ambitious screen adaptation of Michelle Tea’s iconic autobiographical ‘90s lesbian novel of the same name boasts a different director and cast for each of the book’s eighteen chapters. Following the punky, sexy, massively queer urban adventures of Michelle, this quintessentially San Francisco film showcases a who’s who of queer filmmakers including Silas Howard, Cheryl Dunye, Samuel Topiary and Michelle Lawler.


Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf

A wild and wacky comedy from the always dynamic and irresistible Anna Margarita Albelo (Hooters, A Lez in Wonderland). Albelo stars as a filmmaker attempting to bed her leading lady (knockout Janina Gavankar of The L Word) by writing her a lesbian remake of Albee’s legendary Burton-Taylor masterpiece. The quartet cast is rounded out by the lovely Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, The OWLS) and the fabulous Carrie Preston (True Blood). Co-written by Saved co-writer Michael Urban.


The Go Doc Project

This wonderfully innovative and exceptionally sexy drama has an infectious energy and a completely unique aesthetic as it tells a classic story of lust becoming love — and then some. Super cute Tanner Cohen (Were The World Mine) returns to the big screen as a college boy named Doc who drunkenly cruises a gay go-go boy named Go (super hot Matthew Camp) with the pretense of making a documentary about him. Not to be missed.



The Philippines submission for this year’s Academy Awards, this nuanced and acclaimed character study unfolds a dramatic portrait of an aging, closeted gay man, his friends and his daily life in a village on the outskirts of Manila. Featuring prolific Filipino superstar Eddie Garcia.


The Battle of amfAR

From Academy Award-winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Howl, The Celluloid Closet) comes this short, 40-minute exploration of the origins of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. The film gives an in-depth account of how a Hollywood superstar and a research scientist (Elizabeth Taylor and Dr. Mathilde Krim) came to create one of the most important AIDS organizations that would go on to have a transformative role on the AIDS crisis.


God Loves Uganda

Portraying the grueling struggle of Ugandan gay activists battling imported American religious Right-wing homophobia, this powerful expose’ from Roger Ross Williams is an eye-opening look at courageous LGBT activists and their equally brave straight allies. Like last year’s Call Me Kuchu, the film serves as a call-to-action, an indictment of the religious Right and a reminder that we have a very long way to go to achieve global LGBT equality.

In the crowd-sourcing spirit: Please share your opinions below on these LGBT film festival picks and chime in with YOUR picks, too.

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