Love is in the air at the 25th Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBT film festival, Oct. 4-11 at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema. I don’t know when I’ve seen so much romance in a queer festival.
There’s young love, old love, lesbian love, gay love, baby love, kinky love, married love, platonic love, coercive love, transformative love… Oh, there’s politics too, but that’s mostly confined to the documentary section, or woven in with the love stories.
All films (with exceptions noted) screen at Midtown Art Cinema (931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta GA 30308).
Sunday, Oct. 7
“Ballroom Rules” | 11 a.m.
A group of Australian same-sex ballroom dancers pursue their dream of competing at the Gay Games in Germany.
“Facing Mirrors” | 11 a.m.
While we’re waiting for Iran to develop nuclear weapons they’ve developed one of the most sensitive transgender stories to come from any country instead. A surprising revelation in “Facing Mirrors” is that not only is gender transition surgery done in Iran, but the government loans its citizens money for the procedure.
Rana (Ghazal Shakeri) moonlights as a cab driver while her husband is in debtor’s prison. Adineh (charmingly androgynous Shayesteh Irani), who prefers to be called Eddie, would rather be a man than marry one. He flags down Rana’s car while trying to escape the country to avoid marrying his male cousin.
It takes some time (and some Transgender 101 dialogue) but Rana is won over to Eddie’s side and even takes some risks to help her new friend.
“Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” | 12:35 p.m.
Police raids on gay bars are so pre-Stonewall, but not only was the Atlanta Eagle raided in 2009, so was the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, and on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall to boot. Meredith Baxter narrates.
“North Sea, Texas?” | 3 p.m.
An early scene will tell you whether “North Sea, Texas” is for you. Pim, about to turn 15, and Gino, nearing 18, jerk off together for the first time. Pim retrieves the sock Gino cums in and saves it in his shoebox of treasured memories.
If you say “Aw, that’s romantic,” you’re ready to fall in love with the best gay teen romance since “Beautiful Thing.”
If you say “Ew, that’s disgusting,” move along. There’s nothing for you to see here.
The youths take different paths to adulthood. Gino abandons Pim and starts dating a girl, while Pim considers running off with a handsome carnival gypsy. The question is, will their roads converge again?
“Love Free or Die” | 4:50 p.m.
The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson was the right man for the job of becoming the first openly gay partnered bishop in the Episcopal Church in the USA. Self-described as “unashamedly gay, unashamedly Christian,” he’s warm, sincere and stands his ground without appearing confrontational.
Macky Alston’s film spotlights a man who deserves the attention and his place in LGBT history.
“Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean” 6:50 p.m.
Director Matthew Mishory displays a keen visual sense. The film’s made up of flashbacks from a trip to the California desert by not-yet-famous James Dean (James Preston), his roommate/fuck buddy (Dan Glenn) and Violet (Dalilah Rain), a woman who came to L.A. to become a star and wound up as a kind of whore. The same thing could be happening to Jimmy at this point.
“The Falls” | 9:05 p.m.
OMFG! “The Falls” is Mitt Romney’s worst nightmare, besides losing the election.
Two 20-year-old Mormon missionaries share a dorm room, where they sit around praying in their underwear. It’s like an intense gay relationship without the sex, until that distinction disappears!
Jon Garcia’s film will be too slow and restrained for some viewers, who can’t wait for Elder Smith (Nick Ferrucci) and Elder Merrill (Ben Farmer) to get it on.
Once the genie is out of the bottle — or the closet — it’s obvious the guys won’t get any love from the church unless they go back to repressing their true natures.
Monday, Oct. 8
Everything Under the Rainbow Shorts | 1:30 p.m.
Fallen Comrade (James Valdez): Two attractive young soldiers meet during boot camp and fall deeply in love.
I Need a Hero (White Hawk Bourne): A brief history of LGBT characters in comic books.
The Divine Decadence of Cheesecake: Peter Savieri’s hysterical envisioning of some Sapphic love between two of the “Golden Girls”
Ub2 (Dan Goldes): How verbiage used on dating sites affects HIV-positive men
It’s Consuming Me (Kai Stanicke): A guy in the middle of the woods can’t get the thought of his boyfriend out of his mind.
Why We Ride: The Story of AIDS/LifeCycle (Erick Stoll, Chase Whiteside): The fundraising bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles
Raymond (Mark V. Rees): A terminally ill gay man comes home to seek forgiveness from the lover he abandoned, but gets redemption elsewhere.
Queen of My Dreams (Fawzia Mirza):A queer take on Bollywood tales
Trandroids (Brit Dunn): A sci-fi drama about an android who has had gender programming removed
“Tennessee Queer” | 3:30 p.m.
When “out and proud” Jason Potts returns to his Tennessee hometown he quickly learns that life has not gotten better for the gay high school kids.
“Unfit: Ward vs. Ward” | 5:30 p.m.
Who’s the better parent: a convicted murderer or a lesbian? That question framed an infamous, contentious custody battle that played out in Florida state courts in the mid-1990s, captured in this heartbreaking documentary.
“I Do” | 7 p.m.
Jack (David Ross) is a British gay man living in New York. When his green card marriage to his best friend, lesbian Ali (“The Sopranos’” Jamie Lynn Sigler) goes wrong, and because he can’t marry the man he loves to stay in the US, he has to make an impossible choice.
“A Perfect Ending” | 7:05 p.m.
This is the best of writer-director Nicole Conn’s lesbian romances, dating back to “Claire of the Moon” in 1992.
It’s the story of an unfulfilled housewife, Rebecca (Barbara Niven), who has had three children and zero orgasms. Her best friends, a lesbian couple, suggest she try sex with someone who knows how to please a woman.
Enter Paris (Jessica Clark), a high-class, high-priced call girl. Imagine the cool blondeness of “Falcon Crest”-era Lana Turner and the exotic beauty of today’s Angelina Jolie, minus a few years for each, to get an idea of how the lovingly photographed leads look together.
“Transgender Tuesdays: A Clinic in the Tenderloin”
7:30 p.m. at the Rush Center
1530 Dekalb Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307
The story behind the country’s first public health clinic to offer primary care specifically for the transgendered, in 1993, is actually the story of its pioneering patients.
“Keep the Lights On” | 9 p.m.
My usual take on naturalism is that if I want to watch real life I don’t have to buy a movie ticket, but Ira Sachs employs the style so artfully in “Keep the Lights On” he won me over.
The on-and-off love story of Erik (Thure Lindhardt) and Paul (Zachary Booth) is followed from its beginning in 1998 to its end — or is it? — in 2007.
Erik sees that Paul is a heavy crack user but doesn’t worry about it until it makes Paul behave irresponsibly, both at his job and at home. An intervention gets Paul to go to rehab but his recovery doesn’t last long and Erik resumes his role as enabler.
Whether you’re hoping they’ll make it as a couple or hoping Erik will cut his losses, you can hardly watch “Keep the Lights On” without getting involved.
“Yossi & Jagger” (2002) | 4 p.m.
Even in the Israeli army where one could be openly gay a decade ago, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” remained the accepted standard, according to “Yossi & Jagger,” a minimalist gay love story set in a camp near the Lebanese border.
Young officers Yossi (Ohad Knoller) and Lior (Yehuda Levi) slip away from camp for a snowball fight that turns into wrestling that turns into you can guess what.
Jagger (Lior’s nickname) wants them to be out but Yossi, more dedicated to his military career, puts his foot down. As Yossi also refuses to declare his love privately, it becomes difficult to see what Jagger sees in him.
“Beyond the Walls” | 5:30 p.m.
There’s nothing like prison time to screw up a budding relationship. That’s what comes between Paulo (Matila Malliarakis) and Ilir (Guillaume Gouix) in “Beyond the Walls,” the walls of the title being physical as well as metaphorical.
At first Paulo is “trying to figure things out” and has a pretty good deal living with his girlfriend. She sees the writing on the wall before he does and throws him out, so he moves in with the not-initially-receptive Ilir.
Just when things are going well, Ilir is caught smuggling drugs and thrown in prison. By the time Ilir is released, both men have changed considerably. The question is whether whatever bound them together in the first place still exists, whether the flame can be rekindled.
“Yossi” | 7:30 p.m.
It’s a paradox when one of the most original films in the festival is actually a sequel. The follow-up to “Yossi & Jagger” can stand on its own, with the backstory filled in eventually.
Ten years later Yossi (Ohad Knoller), now Dr. Yossi Guttman, is still mourning the man he loved in the Israeli army. Not yet 34 but already old, he’s as closeted as ever, but the word is out about him in the Tel Aviv hospital where he works.
Forced to take a vacation, Yossi gives a ride to four young soldiers. One of them, Tom (Oz Zehavi) is openly gay and his comrades are fine with it, showing how the army has changed in ten years. When Tom tries to be more than friendly, can Yossi change too?
“Elliot Loves” | 9:10 p.m.
“Elliot Loves” follows its own rules, or lack thereof. If it weren’t so appealing that might be a negative, but writer-director Terracino makes it work on his terms.
The film jumps back and forth between Elliot (Quentin Davis Araujo) at nine and Elliot (Fabio Costaprado) at 21. Young Elliot watches his single mom (Elena Goode) go through a string of bad relationships with men. Grown up Elliot has his own string of bad relationships with men, who just want to have fun and are scared off when Elliot uses the L-word.
All I can say is, Terracino broke through my hard shell and made me love “Elliot Loves.”
“The Right to Love: An American Family” | 3:50 p.m.
A married California gay couple and their two adopted children fight back against discrimination, ignorance and hate through home videos posted on their YouTube channel.
“Turtle Hill, Brooklyn” | 5:35 p.m.
Billed as “a modern-day ‘Boys in the Band’” because it’s about a birthday party for a gay man in New York, “Turtle Hill, Brooklyn” crams more than twice as many characters into two-thirds the running time.
Will (Brian W. Seibert) is turning 30. He and Mateo (Ricardo Valdez) have issues they haven’t discussed, all of which come to a head today. Each of the 21 guests at their party — including women, gay and straight — brings their own issue.
“Naked as We Came” | 7:10 p.m.
With the understanding that “Naked as We Came” is strictly for soap opera fans, it’s not bad. The ingredients of this family drama are quickly introduced and combined, then left to simmer.
Siblings Elliot (Ryan Vigilant) and Laura (Karmine Alers) drive to the country to see their mother, Lilly (Lué McWilliams, who takes acting honors), a “pot-smoking cancer victim” they haven’t visited in a year and a half.
They meet Ted (Benjamin Weaver), Lilly’s live-in groundskeeper who also cooks and seems to be an all-around caregiver, and he’s working on a novel. He still has time to get involved with Elliot.
Thankfully, writer-director-producer Richard LeMay, a former Atlantan, doesn’t waste time filling in a lot of unnecessary backstory details that you can figure out for yourself. Pay attention to the brief narration that opens the film because it hints at a key point that’s never entirely spelled out.
“Trick” | 9:10 p.m.
Though it’s as far-fetched as is it flimsy, you can’t deny the charm and humor of this romantic fantasy about two horny guys who can’t find a place to get off together in all of New York City.
Romantic Gabriel (Christian Campbell) doesn’t have a life — just a best friend (Tori Spelling), a pig of a straight roommate and aspirations to write a Broadway musical. Gabriel meets Mark (J.P. Pitoc), a go-go dancer whose thong barely conceals his charms. With his apartment occupied and no alternatives working out, the guys get to know each other without meaning to.
“M.I. A Different Kind of Girl” 3:30 p.m.
In M.I.A Different Kind of Girl, filmmakers, Leslie Cunningham and Alana Jones enter the world of new millennium of drag. Prominently featured is Laine Brown, a male impersonator better known as Nation Tyre, and Nation’s drag family, the House of Tyre in Atlanta.
Shorts with Local Flair | 5 p.m.
All She’ll Ever Hurt (USA, David Joseph): A music video by Amber Taylor and The Sexual Side Effects.
Even Now (USA, Toby Emert): An autobiographical look at a gay man’s relationship with his family.
Queen-tessential (USA, Jenna Brandi): The annual Boybutante Ball in Athens, Ga., gets its closeup.
Whistlin Dixie: Queer Sounds, New South (USA, Meredith Heil): In this foot-stompin’, guitar-strummin’ ride through the southland, you’ll find a new generation of queer activists.
“Jobriath A.D.” | 6:15 p.m.
Kieran Turner’s feature documentary covers the life and brief career of ‘70s glam rock musician Jobriath, the first openly gay rock star.
“Bearcity 2: The Proposal” | 8:30 p.m.
The sequel to the Out on Film 2010 sensation follows familiar characters from the original and a few new ones in this sexy romp. Roger (former Atlantan Gerard McCullouch) asks Tyler (Joe Conti) to marry him, and soon their bear and cub friends head to Provincetown for Bear Week, where they find themselves under the roof of den mother Kathy Najimy.
Top photo: Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker star in ‘Cloudburst’. (Publicity still)