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Film festivals’s ‘10%’ grows to 16 this year
Cleveland--The 37th annual Cleveland International Film Festival is temporally and spatially right around the corner, April 3 to 14 at Tower City Cinemas, with satellite screenings at the Akron Art Museum, the Akron-Summit Public Library, the Apollo Theater in Oberlin, the Capitol Theater in Gordon Square, and the Cedar-Lee Theater, its original home.
You will laugh. You will cry. You will be entertained.
You will . . . be the applause.
“Be the Applause” is the tagline for this 37th installment of the venerable film festival, the largest in Ohio and perhaps the most outstanding in the Midwest. The question is, what does it mean? Is the Cleveland Film Society, producers of the festival, suggesting a method-acting approach to viewing the films, as if, instead of being the tree in the third-grade school play, you should truly immerse yourself in the experience and nature of applause?
Regardless, the tagline of the festival is secondary to the films themselves.
Every year, the festival honors our community with the 10% Cinema sidebar, a collection of LGBT comedies, dramas, documentaries, whatever is good and great in the world of queer film. The number of 10% films has increased markedly over last year, and almost tripled from two years ago, when there were six. This year, there are 16 individual features and one program of shorts.
Here are short descriptions of the 10% Cinema features. When we’re done, you may go and thank artistic director Bill Guentzler, who has to sit through thousands of hours of films to select the ones that eventually make it to the screen. And Marcie Goodman, the executive director. And associate director Patrick Shepherd. And the rest of the staff and volunteers who do this every year, thankfully forgetting from one year to the next the toll that going two weeks without sleep takes on their frail human forms.
Beyond the Walls
Belgian director and writer David Lambert follows Paulo, who is carried home by sexy bartender Ilir after having a couple dozen too many. The two begin a tentative relationship, which does not go over well with Paulo’s girlfriend, who boots him from the house. He goes to stay with Ilir, who then disappears--because he was arrested for drug possession. Now, instead of seeing each other all the time and making love all over the house, they meet once a week in a stark prison visiting room. Will their relationship survive this experience?
Beyond the Walls will be shown on Wednesday, April 10 at 4:10 pm and Friday, April 12 at 7:35 pm.
Call Me Kuchu
The struggles of the Ugandan LGBT community are familiar to most American activists. Homosexual acts are illegal, and efforts have been underway for years to institute the death penalty for “habitual” homosexuality. Against this backdrop, documentarian Katherine Fairfax Wright follows a group of LGBT people in Uganda, along with a lone clergyman who tries to help them, through the tribulations of being gay in a country where the newspapers openly call for executions and print the names and photos of people they accuse of being gay.
Call Me Kuchu screens on Thursday, April 8 at 12:15 pm, and Monday, April 8 at 9:25 pm.
Tom Shkolnik’s debut focuses on Ed (Edward Hogg), an aspiring stand-up comedian, whose conversation with Nathan (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett of The Misfits, now playing on Logo) sends him through a journey of self-discovery that makes the transition to adulthood in the second decade of the millennium just that little bit easier.
The Comedian plays on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 at 6:20 pm and 11:30 am, respectively.
The French government does not allow surrogacy, so when two gay French men want to become fathers, they have to go to that bastion of liberal thought, Wisconsin. Delphine Lanson’s documentary follows Jerome and François from their home to meeting with Colleen and her family. They gave us French fries and brie, and Colleen will give them the fulfillment of their dreams.
See Father’s Birth at one of three screenings: Monday, April 8 at 11:45 am, Tuesday, April 9 at 4:10 pm, or Thursday, April 11 at 1:50 pm.
Joshua Sanchez’ adaptation of the play by Christopher Shinn follows Joe, a middle-aged black man, out on a date with the younger June, who is still in the closet. Meanwhile, Joe’s daughter Abigayle sneaks out of the house with Dexter, a boy from her school. While Joe and Abigayle think they can escape from the troubles of their everyday lives in the arms of another, they realize that their problems are still waiting for them when they make their inevitable returns at the end of the night.
Four also has a trio of showings, on Thursday, April 4 at 2:40 pm, Saturday, April 6 at 9:35 pm, and Sunday, April 7 at 1:50 pm.
Zoltan Paul’s latest film follows two lesbian lovers who live on a lake north of Berlin, Rosa and Kirsten. One summer, they host two young lesbian college students up from the city during a summer of revelation and discovery, set against the backdrop of the idyllic German countryside.
Frauensee will be shown on Monday, April 8 at 2:30 pm, Wednesday, April 10 at 9:30 pm, and Friday, April 12 at 1:50 pm.
The Go Doc Project
In a twist on the found-footage film, The Go Doc Project follows “Doc,” who is graduating from college, as he meets “Go,” the stripper with whom he has become fixated online. Doc poses as a documentary filmmaker, ostensibly to make a movie about Go. Go is all for it, which means Doc has to put up or shut up. The film creates the dynamic of voyeur as participant, sweeping up the audience in its maelstrom of emotion and eroticism.
The Go Doc Project shows at 10 pm on Friday, April 5, and the next afternoon at 4:45 pm.
I Am Divine
Jeffrey Schwarz’ documentary examines the life and times of Harris Glen Milstead, John Waters’ “most beautiful woman in the world,” better known to film fans as Divine. Clips of the late star, along with interview from people who knew him and worked with him, create a monument to his superstardom. Honestly, would Anne Hathaway or Scarlett Johansson eat dog poop? I doubt it, yet they are called sex symbols. Let them play against Edith Massey before being called superstars.
I Am Divine plays on April 13 and 14 at 9:15 pm and 2:30 pm, respectively.
Highlighting the problems facing families of all stripes, Glenn Gaylord’s I Do follows Jack, a British man staying in the United States to help raise his dead brother’s baby with his sister-in-law. When his visa is set to expire, he plots to marry his lesbian friend Ali so he can stay in the country, but those plans are threatened when he falls in love with a sexy Spanish man. As it all starts to slip away, Jack has to decide what he must grab onto first and hold onto tightest.
I Do shows Thursday through Saturday, April 11 to 13. Thursday’s screening is at 6:40 pm, Friday’s is 12:15 pm, and Saturday’s is at 2:25 pm.
Interior. Leather Bar.
James Franco (yes, the incredibly hot one) co-directs this film that tries to recreate the long-lost 40 minutes that the MPAA made William Friedkin excise from his 1980 film Cruising. Mixing professional actors with regular people, gay people and heterosexuals, real sex with scripted dialogue, the cast and crew question the project as they are forced to examine the boundaries of personal freedom, comfort, art and sexual expression. This film should be absolutely fantastic.
Interior. Leather Bar. will screen on April 6 at 10 pm and April 7 at 5:40 pm. Not for kids.
Laurence comes to the realization that he is not happy, despite his success as a teacher and his great relationship with Frederica. Laurence is a woman, and must make that transition in Xavier Dolan’s feature film. Frederica, meanwhile, decides that she will stay with Laurence and face what comes together, braving the questioning and ridicule of those who do not understand. Giving equal time to both members of the relationship, the drama illustrates that one person’s story is seldom really just that person’s story.
The film will screen on Friday, April 12 at 4 pm and Saturday, April 13 at 5:55 pm.
Out in the Dark
The Wire meets a couple dozen Israeli-Palestinian mixed-romance movies in Michael Mayer’s feature debut, which follows the relationship between Israeli attorney Roy and Nimr, a Palestinian, trying to organize a future together. However, the Israeli security forces find out that Nimr’s brother has been supplying weapons to militants, and tell him he must inform on his brother or be banned from entering Israel. Meanwhile, he cannot return home, as someone has told his family that he is both gay and a traitor. He cannot stay and cannot go, but can even Roy’s connections bring a happy ending?
Out in the Dark plays at 4:50 pm on Thursday, April 11 and 4:30 pm on Sunday, April 14.
Yen Tan’s second CIFF appearance, after 2008’s Ciao, follows Ernesto, hiding his heartache in a menial job when he meets Gabe, who lives in an open marriage to help his wife raise their daughter. A small town is not necessarily a great place to be gay, but Gabe and Ernesto will do what it takes to find happiness together.
Pit Stop has screenings on Thursday, April 11 at 12:15 pm and Friday, April 12 at 10 pm.
United in Anger
In the vein of How to Survive a Plague, the immensely successful documentary about the Treatment Action Group and ACT UP, Jim Hubbard’s United in Anger: A History of ACT UP also examines the genesis and work of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power through archival footage and contemporary interviews with people who were there. Hubbard is the co-founder of the Mix NYC experimental gay film festival, as well as maintaining the ACT UP Oral History Project.
United in Anger shows on Thursday, April 4 at 9:15 pm and Saturday, April 6 at 11:10 am.
Were the World Mine
This 2008 film, preceded by a short from director Tom Gustafson, follows gay high school senior Timothy when he is cast as Puck in his school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When a play about fairies and magic causes all sorts of magic to happen in real life, Timothy learns to be careful what he wishes for.
Revelations, the short that precedes it, is a closet confessional from the heart of an anti-gay organization.
Were the World Mine and Revelations screen on Friday, April 5 at 7:20 pm and Saturday, April 6 at 2 pm.
Director Eytan Fox’s follow-up to Yossi and Jagger follows Yossi, who loved another soldier only to hold his dying body in his arms in Lebanon. Now Yossi is a cardiologist, afraid to open himself up to the possibility of love again, until he meets a young gay soldier who is determined to drag him back out into the world.
Yossi will be shown on Thursday, April 4 at 7:20 pm and Friday, April 5 at 2:25 pm, which means it should let out in time for Shabbat. Perhaps not intentional, but certainly ironic for an Israeli film.
There will also be a 10% Shorts program, which will screen on April 7 at 9:45 pm and April 13 at 4:50 pm.
For a full listing of 10% Shorts, the other films in the festival, or to buy tickets, go to www.clevelandfilm.org.