Jewish Film Festival offers plenty for gay audiences

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Feb. 8-27 at Multiple venues

“Tell Them Anything You Want”
Feb. 17, 3:50 p.m., Lefont Sandy Springs

“Vidal Sassoon: The Movie”
Feb. 13, 4:40 p.m., Lefont Sandy Springs; Feb. 23, 11:45 a.m., Regal Atlantic Station

“The ‘Socalled’ Movie”
Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m., Buckhead Theatre (preceded by a Young Professionals party and followed by a Q&A and “Socalled” concert)

“Wagner & Me”
Feb. 16, 12:10 p.m., Lefont Sandy Springs

“Paris Return”
Feb. 24, 4:50 p.m., Regal Atlantic Station

“Gay Days”
 Feb. 23, 9:30 p.m., Regal Atlantic Station

“Yiddle with His Fiddle”
Feb. 20, 4:25 p.m., Lefont Sandy Springs

“The Trotsky”
Feb. 13, 4:35 p.m., Georgia Theatre Company Merchants Walk; Feb. 20, 4:40 p.m., Regal Medlock Crossing; Feb. 27, 1:30 p.m., Regal Atlantic Station

Out gays are the subject of one musical documentary and the narrator of another. “The ‘Socalled’ Movie” is a delightful portrait of Josh Dolgin, a nerdy, balding, bespectacled Quebecois queer who happens to be some kind of genius. Calling himself “Socalled,” he blends klezmer music with influences ranging from hip-hop to bluegrass.

The focus is more on his music than his gayness but at one point Josh casually outs himself, telling filmmaker Garry Beitel, “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed. He’s shy but he’s so fuckin’ cute.” Later he films an interview with gay porn director Toby Ross, to be shown in a Montreal porn cinema (formerly a Yiddish theater, coincidentally) during a festival, along with one of Ross’ old films, “Cruisin’ 57,” accompanied by Socalled’s band playing a live soundtrack.

“Wagner & Me” is a feast for opera queens. Composer Richard Wagner may have been the Mel Gibson of his day, but does that mean we can’t enjoy his music? That’s the question actor-writer Stephen Fry sets out to answer for himself, being both gay and Jewish and knowing that Hitler was inspired by Wagner’s music.

There are three other documentaries relevant to LGBTs, one romantic and two political. “Paris Return” isn’t quite a movie but it’s a sweet experience, a touching portrait of the relationship of two lions in winter. Director Yossi Aviram started filming his Uncle Reoven and Reoven’s partner, Pierluigi, cinéma vérité-style, perhaps hoping a story would develop. None did, but a love that spans nearly 50 years is story enough.

“Gay Days” traces the history of the LGBT movement in Israel, which has been over 20 years behind the U.S. (their first Gay Pride Day was in 1993) except in integrating their military. Yair Qedar tells it from a personal standpoint, having left his small town in 1985 and moved to Tel Aviv, where gay life was confined to underground clubs, a cruising park and an alternative newspaper column.

The only narrative film of LGBT interest is the restored 1936 musical “Yiddle with His Fiddle,” the “Yentl” of its day, about a woman masquerading as a boy. It stars Yiddish theater diva Molly Picon, who is a hoot.

There’s not much gay content in the hilarious Canadian teen comedy “The Trotsky,” but the gag that outs a major character is a good one. Writer-director Jacob Tierney also made “Twist,” a gay version of “Oliver Twist.”

Top photo: ‘Gay Days’ traces the history of the LGBT movement in Israel from a personal standpoint. (Publicity photo)