When the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival – the city’s largest film festival – returns every year, it brings with it a diverse slate, including LGBTQ selections.  This season is particularly rich.

Among the offerings is Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon’s “Flawless,” which was nominated for 12 Israeli Academy Awards, including one for transgender actress Stav Strashko. Strashko plays Eden, who joins a Jerusalem school and quickly befriends two other female students, without telling them she is transgender. All three are longing for money to get cosmetic surgery to enhance their bodies. The film starts off somewhat like a “Mean Girls” or “Clueless”-esque comedy. “Ouch – you hit my inner Beyonce,” says one of the snarky main characters. Yet the film gets a lot darker when the girls become so desperate for larger breasts that they are willing to travel to Ukraine and risk their own lives. The film, anchored by a strong ensemble led by Strashko, has a lot to say about identify and acceptance. It’s a satisfying, savvy film that I enjoyed immensely.

Other LGBT titles include “The Art of Waiting,” “Black Mercedes,” “The Glass Room” and the acclaimed documentaries “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” and “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.” The festival runs Feb. 10 – 27.

One of the best lesbian-themed films of the last decade or so, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” opens Feb. 21 in the ATL. The film won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and played a handful of LGBT film festivals last year, including Out On Film, where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Set in France at the end of the 18th century, the film follows a young painter – Marianne, played by Noemie Merlant – who is summoned to paint a picture of a bride to be – Heloise (Adele Haenel) – without her knowing. Marianne arrives pretending to be a companion, yet over time, the women begin to develop feelings for each other. Director Celine Sciamma, best known for the wonderful “Tomboy,” makes the film elegant and suspenseful with an unforgettable, haunting final scene. France submitted the drama “Les Miserables” as its official entry for this year’s Academy Awards instead of this film and it’s a near crime.  For all the talk about female-driven films that didn’t get their due in 2019, this is at the top of the list. Don’t miss it.

 

“The Art of Waiting”

February 14 at 11am, UA Tara Cinemas

February 15 at 5:55pm, Plaza Theatre

February 23 at 8:05pm, Regal Perimeter Pointe

February 26 at 12:20pm, Midtown Art Cinema

 

“Black Mercedes”

February 17 at 7:10pm, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Centre

February 18 at 12:50pm, Regal Perimeter Pointe

February 20 at 7:10am, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Centre

February 26 at 2:45 pm, Midtown Art Cinema

February 27 at 7:20pm, Midtown Art Cinema

 

“Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn”

February 24, 7:20pm, Regal Perimeter Pointe

February 25, 1pm, Midtown Art Cinema

February 25, 7:20pm, UA Tara Cinemas

 

“Flawless”

February 15 at 8:20pm, Plaza Theatre

February 16 at 3:45pm, UA Tara Cinemas

February 17 at 11 am, UA Tara Cinema

February 17 at 1:40pm, Regal Perimeter Pointe

 

“The Glass Room”

February 16 at 8:20pm, UA Tara Cinemas

February 21 at 1:30pm, Midtown Art Cinema

February 22 at 8:35pm, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Centre

February 23 at 11am, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Centre

February 27 at 12:40pm, Midtown Art Cinema

 

“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life”

February 18 at 7:10pm, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Centre

February 19 at 2:35pm, UA Tara Cinemas

February 22 at 5:50pm, UA Tara Cinemas

 

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

Opens Feb. 21 at the Midtown Art Cinema

 

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