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Atlanta Film Fest features LGBT flicks

There’s a lot of masturbation, literal and figurative, going on in the LGBT entries in the 2011 Atlanta Film Festival, whether they’re included in the gay “Pink Peach” section or in general narrative categories.

It’s common in festivals to find the results of filmmakers’ onanism splayed across the screen, but this year actors are doing the deed as well. Look for werewolf movies next year to explain all the hairy palms.

Joslyn Jensen in “Without” and Mark Cirillo in “The Seminarian” are each given more close-up face time than Meryl Streep has had in her whole career, so it’s not surprising that the camera doesn’t venture below the waist when they pleasure themselves. The prize for the most masturbation goes to Lydia Hyslop, who can’t keep her hand off herself in “Vacation!” except when she’s substituting household appliances, especially a blender.

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Spring Film: Outside of festival, season offers little new for us at the movies

Spring films

While we may be infected with spring fever in our private lives, it’s not the best season to expect to see our LGBT passions reflected on movie screens.

At one end of the scale, if 2011 holds any blockbuster gay films — think along the lines of “Milk,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Kids Are All Right” — they are waiting to be released during award season at the end of the year.

At the other end, the distributors of smaller-budget movies try to maximize their potential by building word of mouth at the big three queer summer festivals: Outfest in Los Angeles, Newfest in New York and Frameline in San Francisco. Others will hit the fall festival circuit in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and other cities.

The Atlanta Film Festival (April 28-May 7) will premiere four LGBT features and two programs of shorts in its Pink Peach section, plus a few others that sound gay-ish.

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Local filmmaker spotlights gay politicians ‘Breaking Through’

Filmmaker Cindy Abel examines out politicians in new film

Cindy Abel loves politics and politicians.

“I am cheese ball enough to believe in the promise of America. That sounds very naïve but I’m in love with the promise of America,” she says.

But it wasn’t always that way. She cast her first presidential ballot for Bill Clinton in 1992 when she was 31, at a time when she was coming to grips with her own sexual orientation as bisexual.

“I had never voted until 1992 when I was 31. I didn’t feel we, regular people, had any impact, any voice, any say in the process. But as I sat watching the inauguration I cried — tears streaming down my face in my room in Orlando, Fla. I was recently out. I had reached a point a few weeks earlier that I was not going to lie about who I am,” she says. “I had decided I would rather pump gas for a living than live in the closet.”

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‘Heartbeats’ is latest from young gay director

Xavier Dolan releases new film 'Heartbeats'

Xavier Dolan was only 19 when he made his first film, the startlingly original, semi-autobiographical “I Killed My Mother,” about a gay teen’s love-hate relationship with his mom during his coming-out process. It’s had countless showings in festivals (including last year’s Out on Film) and museums (Atlanta’s High Museum of Art for one) but has yet to have a proper American theatrical release.

Dolan turned 22 on March 20 as his second film, “Heartbeats” started playing around the country. Cinephiles can make a drinking game of spotting Dolan’s influences in “Heartbeats,” but don’t expect a film on the level of “I Killed My Mother.”

The bones of the plot have potential. Francis (Dolan) and his best friend Marie (Monia Chokri) meet “blond Adonis” Nicolas (Niels Schneider), who has just moved to Montreal.

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Gregg Araki’s ‘Kaboom’ is a comedy thriller with eye candy for all

Kaboom at Landmark Theatres

The sex-obsessed college students in Gregg Araki’s “Kaboom” all seem to be working toward an STD degree. As Smith (Thomas Dekker) says, “I’m 18 and perpetually horny.” This being the 21st century his lust knows no gender boundaries. His best friend Stella (Haley Bennett) says he’s “probably a 3 or 4 on the Kinsey Scale,” while he describes himself as “undeclared.”

Araki himself has become more bisexual, both in his films and his private life, since his days as one of the poster boys for the New Queer Cinema of the early ‘90s. While it’s unquestionably gay-positive, “Kaboom” would score no higher on Kinsey than its protagonist.

Indeed, Smith’s only repeat sexual partner is a woman, London (Juno Temple), although he fantasizes about his “excruciatingly hot straight roommate” Thor (Chris Zylka), “a surfer, dumb as a box of rocks”; flirts with Oliver (Brennan Mejia), hooks up with Hunter (Jason Olive) at a nude beach and gets a surprise “gift” from London on his 19th birthday.

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Gay-themed ‘Red State’ based on ‘God Hates Fags’ church

Kevin Smith's Red State

One of the most controversial features at the recent Sundance Film Festival was the gay-themed thriller “Red State.” The film’s director, Kevin Smith, brings his “Red State, U.S.A.” tour to the Cobb Energy Centre for a March 29 screening and question-and-answer session.

In the film, which follows a traditional horror movie plot, three teenagers discover an ad on the Internet from an older woman looking for sex and decide to answer it. What they find, instead, in the woods where they agree to meet is a family using various techniques to lure in unsuspecting young men they believe to be sinners; they often target gays as part of their crusading.

Jonathan Gordon, the film’s producer, says “Red State” is inspired loosely by Pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, the type of people who “say God’s word is the only word and picket funerals.”

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Oscars tonight

Atlanta bars host watch parties for 83rd annual Academy Awards

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Jewish Film Festival offers plenty for gay audiences

2011 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival offers plenty of LGBT attractions

Despite the name, the 11th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is no more restricted to Jews than it is to Atlantans. The diverse programming offers something for everyone, including LGBT viewers.

There are many fine films among the 57 features and nine shorts in this year’s festival, unspooling Feb. 8-27 at six venues, primarily the Regal Atlantic Station and Lefont Sandy Springs.

Documentaries in the festival reveal that famous children’s story writer Maurice Sendak (“Tell Them Anything You Want”) is gay but the world’s most famous hairdresser (“Vidal Sassoon: The Movie”) isn’t.