LGBT representation on big, small screen this spring

After a fall season that saw a slew of LGBT films – “Carol,” “The Danish Girl” (both of which competed for Academy Awards), “Legend,” “Freeheld” and “Stonewall,” the spring is a little quieter. Yet there’s some LGBT representation amongst the traditional Hollywood fare.

The Atlanta Film Festival, the city’s second largest film festival, opens April 1 for a two-weekend run and hosts a Pink Peach series of LGBT offerings. Among the features this year is “Viva,” which was shortlisted for this year’s Best Foreign Film Academy Award but unfortunately didn’t make the final five. Directed by Paddy Breathnach, this made-in-Ireland feature follows Jesús, a young man who does make-up for a group of drag performers in Havana. He secretly longs to be a performer – and one day, he finds his opportunity. As fate would have it, he also re-connects with his boxer father Angel, who he has not seen in 15 years. It’s a fairly predictable film but one that has plenty of heart. “ Viva”opens later this spring at the Midtown Art Cinema for a one week run.

Also in the Pink Peach mix are Jorge Torres-Torres’ “Sisters of the Plague,” a horror film about a young woman, a haunted house tour guide in New Orleans, whose mother has passed recently – and is warned about impending terror from a medium, while Julio Hernández Cordón’s “Te Prometo Anarquía (I Promise You Anarchy)”finds two young men dabbling in the black market blood work at night while juggling their relationship between each other during the day. It’s sexually frank and kind of poetic. Two other LGBT-themed films deal with the life of a performer. Michael Curtis Johnson’s “Hunky Dory” follows a glam rock artist and his realization that it is time to grow up, while Ido Haar’s “Presenting Princess Shaw” finds a singer-songwriter dealing with her secret admirer. Although the festival is known primarily for music, Big Freedia, known for her work in bounce music, will be part of the SOUNDS+VISION event at the Ponce City Market.

Opening theatrically in April is Matt Sobel’s “Take Me to the River,” a weird but ultimately engrossing tale revolving around a gay California teenager (played by Logan Miller) and what happens when he goes to a family reunion in Nebraska with his parents and plans to come out to his entire family. An accident involving a young cousin derails that. The film also stars Emmy winner Richard Schiff and newcomer Robin Weigert from the lesbian film “Concussion.”

This spring, Strand Releasing is set to release “That’s Not Us,” a romantic comedy about six friends – a straight couple, a gay couple and a lesbian couple – on a weekend outing. Winner of the Best Ensemble Jury Award at last year’s Out On Film, it’s produced by former Atlantan Derek Dodge and directed by his partner/husband, Will Sullivan.

HBO is the home of a pair of gay-themed projects. In early April, the network presents “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures,” an examination of out photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, directed by Fenton Bailey and acclaimed at Sundance this year. The feature captures Mapplethorpe’s professional and personal life; among those appearing as themselves in the film are Debbie Harry,

Fran Lebowitz and Brooke Shields. Also in April, HBO debuts “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper,” a candid documentary about the out television anchor and his tight bond with his equally famous mother. It’s directed by Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Liz Garbus, hot off of her “What Happened, Miss Simone?” triumph.

Though not dated yet, HBO will also air the two hour “Looking” movie sometime in the summer or fall, answering lots of questions that the canceled series left hanging.

A few higher profile Hollywood films could appeal to the LGBT community. Though not gay in nature, gay director Bryan Singer presents “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the newest in the mutant chapter. It’s an unofficial kickoff to the summer season with a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac and Evan Peters. As well, gay actor Matt Bomer appears in May’s “The Nice Guys,”co-starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, about a private eye investigating the murder of a porn star in Los Angeles.

“Take Me to the River”
April 1 – 7
Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema
Atlanta Film Festival
April 1 – April 10
“Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures”
April 4
“Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt
and Anderson Cooper”
May 20 – 26
Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema
“The Nice Guys”
May 20
Area theaters
“X-Men: Apocalypse”
May 27
Area theaters
“That’s Not Us”