10 Must-Sees as QFilm Fest Starts TONIGHT
While 10 is a nice, Lettermanesque number for a listicle, it's really criminal to impose such a cap on the many fine offerings at the 2015 Long Beach QFilm Festival, which opens Thursday night and continues through Sunday night. So after breezing through this nice, Lettermanesque, illegal listicle, click on the link at the end to feed your head with many more worthy QFilm Fest titles (and cool parties).
1) TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL
There was a time in post-WWII Hollywood when young male actors got masculine name makeovers for the marquees, resulting in Roy Harold Scherer Jr. becoming Rock Hudson, Elmore Rual Torn Jr. being known by his nickname "Rip" and Arthur Andrew Kelm transforming into Tab Hunter. Tab Hunter Confidential, award-winning director Jeffrey Schwarz's documentary about the heartthrob who later came out, takes its name from the actor's 2006 New York Times best-selling autobiography co-written with Eddie Muller. Hunter details his studio publicity department manufactured romance with Natalie Wood for the screen magazines, which those in the know secretly headlined "Natalie Wood and Tab Wouldn't." The book and film titles also reference the September 1955 report in the scandal rag Confidential on Hunter's 1950 arrest for disorderly conduct. The hatchet job was filled with innuendo courtesy of Hunter's agent Henry Willson, who dished in exchange for the sexual orientation of his more prominent client Rock Hudson being withheld. 7 p.m. Thursday, with post-screening audience Q&A with Schwartz and producer Neil Koenigsberg
2) KITTENS IN A CAGE
Orange is the New Black and Kittens in a Cage is the New Orange is the New Black as ... um ... forgot where I was going with this. Where you should be going is to the opening-night screening of this send-up of women in prison films, which along with Tab Hunter Confidential sandwiches (careful) the QFilm Festival opening night party. Writer-director Jillian Armenante's comedy, which is also followed by the opening night after party, features local theater favorite Gigi Bermingham as Marquetta State Prison's power-hungry, hook-handed matron, who is the foil to this project's Piper Chapman, ukulele-playing bad girl Junie Butler (Rebecca Mozo). 9:15 p.m. Thursday, with post-screening audience Q&A with Armenante, Bermingham, Mozo, fellow cast members Robin Thorsen, Rebecca Field, Kathryn Dora Brown, Erin Anderson and three production members
3) HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS (EVERY TIME)
Gay identity and institutional corruption clash in Josh Kim's moving exploration of the relationship between two brothers in Thailand. Oat is Bangkok gangster plagued by the nightmares of his troubled youth in Bangkok. The film travels back in time to orphaned Oat at 11, when he first plunged into crime to collect the money necessary to pay off officials to keep his gay, breadwinner brother Ek from being conscripted into military service. How to Win recently won the Best Narrative Feature award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. It is preceded by Peterson Pham's short documentary Tết (New Year), which follows a gay Vietnamese American celebrating Tết with a new outlook. 10:30 a.m. Saturday
4) THOSE PEOPLE
We all recognize the rom-com trope that has the protagonist in a tug of war between new love and long unrequited love. Director Joey Kuhn's Outfest Audience Award winner for Best First U.S. Dramatic Feature has young Manhattan painter Charlie (Jonathan Gordon) moving in with his rich and charismatic pal Sebastian (Jason Ralph), the object of Charlie's desire since childhood. But then he meets and falls hard for pianist Tim (Haaz Sleiman). Those People is preceded by Jerell Rosales' short comedy BRITNEY-holics: A SPEAR-itual Awakening, which follows a fellow joining an anonymous support group for closeted Britney Spears fans. 9:15 p.m. Friday
5) UPSTAIRS INFERNO
On June 24, 1973, a gay bar in New Orleans called the Up Stairs Lounge was deliberately set on fire, resulting in the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history. Never heard of this? Me neither. Fortunately, writer-director Robert L. Camina's chilling documentary is making its West Coast premiere at QFilm Fest to school us about the 32 people who were killed, some bodies never being identified, the primary suspect never being charged and how the fire was the root of many lifelong struggles. 3 p.m. Saturday with post-screening audience Q&A with Camina, narrator and New York Times best-selling author Christopher Rice, producer Brian Long and cast member Henry Kubicki.
6) LIZ IN SEPTEMBER
Patricia Velasquez (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, The L Word) plays a woman on a Caribbean vacation with friends who is dared to seduce a young woman. But Liz, who refuses to let her own health issues hold her back, discovers the newcomer is wounded. The film from director Fina Torres, who adapted Jane Chambers' play, makes its Long Beach premiere. 7 p.m. Friday with a post-screening audience Q&A with Velasquez and co-star Eloísa Maturén.
Twenty-five-year-old Mexican filmmaker Chucho E. Quintero's romantic, coming-of-age tale has been called Before Sunrise with a gay, apocalyptic twist. The world is ending, and queer Álex (Pablo Mezz) wants to have sex with his straight best friend Diego (Carlos Henrick Huber) just once before the end ... um ... comes. Diego, who is devoted to his girlfriend, nonetheless teases Alex. Will they or won't they? 9:15 p.m. Sunday with post-screening audience Q&A with composer HP Mendoza.
8) WHILE YOU WEREN'T LOOKING
Life in South Africa through the eyes of one queer family are presented in writer-director Catherine Stewart's drama making its Long Beach premiere. A trailblazing, mixed-race lesbian couple seems to have it all, until the reaction to a 20th anniversary gift exposes cracks in the relationship. Meanwhile, their adopted daughter comes out of her shell after hooking up with a tomboy. While You Weren't Looking is preceded by Carie-Elena Edwards' drama Girls You Know, which has a young girl inspired by others to mold her environment. 1:15 p.m. Saturday
9) S&M SALLY
Writer-director Michelle Ehlen's comedy is described as "a wacky, revealing romp through the world of BDSM for both women and men." The butch of a traditional butch/femme couple, Jamie (Ehlen) thinks she can assume the dominant role when her girlfriend Jill (Jan McPherson) drags her into the underground BDSM scene. But Jill has ideas of her own. Meanwhile, their friends Lola and David (Shaela Cook and Scott Keiji Takeda) start dating the polyamorous bisexual Sebastian (Adrian Gonzalez), who proposes to have a threesome. The couple quickly agrees, figuring the other will back out to save face. So much for figuring ... 9:15 p.m. Saturday with post-screening audience Q&A with Ehlen.
10) SEED MONEY: THE CHUCK HOLMES STORY
Director Michael Stabile's documentary pulls back the curtain on the life of the founder of Falcon Studios, known as "the MGM of gay porn." For three decades, fueled by the twin fires of the sexual revolution and gay liberation, Chuck Holmes's Falcon Studios reigned as the world's largest producer of gay pornography. But Holmes faced vice squads, FBI indictments and, in the mid-80s, the discovery that he had AIDS. The battle for his health transformed him into a leader in the growing gay rights movement before his death in 2000. Seed Money is preceded by TR Wilkinson's short drama Midnight, which is about a gay couple's relationship being put to the test after both spend a month in an open relationship. 2:45 p.m. Sunday with a post-screening audience Q&A with Stabile and his editor Bryan Darling
All QFilm Festival screenings are in the historic Art Theatre, 2025 East 4th St., and the neighboring LGBTQ Center of Long Beach. Visit www.qfilmslongbeach.com for passes, tickets, the full schedule and more information.
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