The 21st annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival continues through Sun., Oct. 29. There will be a closing-night party at the Cheesecake Factory, at the SouthSide Works.
Films and videos screen at the Harris Theater and Byham Theater, both Downtown; the SouthSide Works, South Side; and the Melwood Screening Room, in Oakland. Tickets are $8 ($5 for under 25), at the door. Discount passes are available, including: the Cheap Thrills packet ($45 for six admissions); and the Screen Queen Pass ($75 for 10 admissions). Tickets for the Evening with Tab Hunter event are $10-25. (See our Tab Hunter interview below.) Contact 412-422-6776 or www.pilgff.org for more information.
Here is the screening schedule for the remaining films:
Wed., Oct. 25
7 p.m. MOM. Erin Greenwell's Mom is a wonderfully funny and refreshingly human lesbian buddy picture about three days in the lives of the very uptight Kelly and the very laid-back Linda. They work for a market-research firm, interviewing subjects in their homes, and wind up in the tiny town of Little Hope ... where anything that can go wrong does. Mom and Greenwell do an amazing job of setting up the audience for classic Hollywood plot advancement, and then jiggling the frame just enough to send us off in some other unexpected but always perfectly landed direction. As the leads, Julie Goldman and Emily Burton are charming without being cloying, and quirky but never precious. I demand a sequel! To be screened via video projection. Harris (Ted Hoover)
9 p.m. WHOLE NEW THING. Home-schooled his whole life, 13-year-old Emerson -- at the behest of his hippie parents -- enrolls in the local high school. As intellectually matured as he is socially inept, Emerson's school days are pretty grim until he meets and develops a crush on his English teacher, a gay man with troubles of his own. This Canadian film, written by Daniel MacIvor and Amnon Buchbinder (who also directs), is a dense, old-fashioned character study, the sort of film the indie film industry was created to make. Buchbinder directs with a light hand, showcasing strong performances by Aaron Webber, Robert Joy, Rebecca Jenkins and MacIvor himself. Harris (TH)
Thu., Oct. 26
7 p.m. PICK UP THE MIC. Alex Hinton's engaging documentary knocks aside preconceptions about hip hop, a musical genre too often defined by its limitations. Hip hop isn't just for the wannabe pimps and braggadocios: The rappers, musicians and emcees Hinton profiles say, "We're queer, we're here, and stand back while I break it down." After the slam-bang opening, where rapper Deadlee chants the unlikely rouser "No Fags Allowed," Hinton's film introduces us to diverse group of gay, lesbian and transgendered entertainers. On the mic, they're fast, furious and funny ("Crack" isn't about any drug); offstage, their enthusiasm for claiming queer-hop as a supportive culture is infectious. Most of the artists are centered in the San Francisco/Oakland or New York City areas, but Pick Up reminds us that art can be a revolutionary act, and it might be coming to your town next. To be screened via video projection. Harris (Al Hoff)
7 p.m. RIDE THE WILD SURF. Who among the dreamy bare-chested men will dare conquer the big waves of Waimea Bay? Will it be Fabian, James Mitchum, Peter Brown or Tab Hunter? Don Taylor's 1964 beach comedy will answer that important question. Ostensibly every guy in the film is also in pursuit of female company, but today's more savvy audiences may note that most of the drama is between the men, as they fight for wave supremacy and try to clarify their own identities. This special event features the screening of the restored surf classic; an onstage discussion with Hunter and his Tab Hunter Confidential co-author, Eddie Muller; an audience Q&A; and a book-signing. $10-25. Byham (AH)
9:15 p.m. EL CALENTITO. Set amid the boldly patterned, big-hair milieu of '80s rock, this Spanish comedy from Chus Guttierez follows an innocent girl, Sara, after she stumbles into El Calentito, an outrageous nightclub for the sexually adventurous. And virginal Sara doesn't just discover some new bands at the club ... To be screened via video projection. In Spanish, with subtitles. Harris
Fri., Oct. 27
7 p.m. CAMP OUT. In 2004, documentarians Larry Grimaldi and Kirk Marcolina filmed 10 Midwestern teen-agers at the first-ever summer camp for Christian LGBT youth. Camp Out is the tremendously moving and inspiring result. Being a teen-ager is, almost by definition, a miserable time, and that misery level is only heightened for these kids who are shunned by their faith communities at home and, to a lesser extent, regarded with suspicion by the gay community. For the first time they're given the opportunity to explore and celebrate their whole being rather than having to compartmentalize themselves. Grimaldi and Marcolina observe the process with intelligence, inviting us into the experience but never turning us into voyeurs. A stunning achievement. To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works (TH)
9:15 p.m. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SING-ALONG. Prepare to sing your little heart out during this special sing-along screening of "Once More With Feeling," the 2001 Buffy episode where a mysterious force had residents of Sunnydale warbling their true feelings. To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works
Sat., Oct. 28
5 p.m. GENERATION Q ON FILM. This program of youth-oriented shorts includes "Coach," "Katie and Kasey," "Begging for Change," "JO FM" and "Sissy French Fry." To be screened via video projection. Melwood
5 p.m. LOVE LIFE. In Damion Dietz's drama, a straight couple each have gay affairs. To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works
7 p.m. LOVING ANNABELLE. There's nothing terribly wrong with Katherine Brooks' melodrama about forbidden love at a posh, all-girls' Catholic boarding school; it's just that it's all so familiar. Annabelle (Erin Kelly) is the rebellious new girl (she smokes, wears outrageous clothes and displays smirky knowledge about poetry). Naturally, she attracts the attention of lay teacher Simone (Diane Gaidry). That the pair strike up a relationship -- over such obvious talismans as journals and jewelry -- is inevitable, yet Brooks does handle the material in a relatively naturalistic and non-sensational manner, given the connect-the-dots set-up -- until the last act, where the high drama is embarrassingly underscored by a crashing thunderstorm. To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works (AH)
9:15 p.m. PHOENIX. There's a good-heartedness to Michael Akers' drama about a young man inadvertently learning that his commitment-resistant older lover is actually long married, to another man in another city; the script allows even immature Dylan his moments of growth and kindness. But Akers' opening gambit -- claiming inspiration from a classic trilogy by Michelangelo Antonioni -- telegraphs the film's callowness. From its overheated title to the stilted dialogue, dull camera-work and patchy acting, Phoenix is amateurish throughout. Toward the film's end, one glimpses a wires-and-knobs sculpture in one character's house and wonders whether it's a model of the molecular structure of boredom. A meet-and-greet with actors Chad Edward Bartley and Jeff Castle will follow the screening. To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works (Bill O'Driscoll)
Sun., Oct. 29
4:45 p.m. 20 CENTIMETERS. A narcoleptic transvestite has wild dreams in which she sings and dances herself to fabulousness, in Ramon Salazar's wildly colorful transgendered musical fantasy. For the math-challenged, 20 centimeters is about 8 inches. In English, and Spanish, with subtitles. SouthSide Works
7:15 p.m. EATING OUT 2: SLOPPY SECONDS. If the purpose of Gay Liberation is to give queers the right to be as idiotic as breeders, then Eating Out 2 means the revolution is over. The -- ahem -- plot concerns our hero, Kyle, who recently broke up with Marc, and is trying to sleep with new-bi-in-town Troy. Meanwhile, Marc's been wooing Troy as well, and Troy is after Tiffani. Somehow an "Ex-Gay" support group turns up as a subplot, and there's a running gag about cunnilingus. And ... but, really, the "point" of Eating Out 2 is that it features a number of young, gorgeous men who occasionally take off their clothes and frequently have sex with each other. Viva la Revolucion! To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works (TH)
Actor Tab Hunter started his long career in Hollywood as a wholly manufactured teen idol, "the Sigh Guy." Even as he graduated to more adult roles and pursued his interests in horses and ice-skating, Hunter had another job: keeping his private life, and his homosexuality, secret. Last year, Hunter released his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, his entertaining and personally illuminating account of five decades in show biz. CP recently spoke to Hunter by phone from his home near Santa Barbara, Calif.
In your book, you seem to have a keen sense of how ironic it was for you as a gay man to be packaged as a heartthrob.
I never even thought about that, because the word wasn't even around in those days and I was such a private person. I just thought about one thing -- trying to learn my craft. As a kid scared of his own shadow, and then on top of that -- the thing of your own sexuality -- it was a monumental thing for me to wade through. The only reason I wrote the book is that I didn't want some shmuck writing about me after I've been dead and gone, and putting a spin on my life. As long as you're honest about it, doing it yourself is best.
Tell me about working in John Water's Polyester -- you describe it as one of the high points of your career.
It was because it introduced me to a whole new audience that didn't know what the heck a Tab Hunter was. I loved John, and, of course, Divine was one of my favorite leading ladies of all time. I was in Indianapolis doing a play when John called me. He said, "I don't know if you've ever heard of me." And I said, "Of course! I'm a big fan of yours -- I love Mondo Trasho and I'm crazy about Pink Flamingos." ... After I read the script, he said, "How would you feel about kissing a 350-pound transvestite?" I said, "Well, I'm sure I've kissed a hell of lot worse in my life!"
For your appearance here, the festival is screening Ride the Wild Surf.
I don't know why they're showing that one [laughs]. I haven't seen it since we made it. I was a little long in the tooth for that role. But it's become a surf classic.
Most of the film's drama is about which guy is manliest. There's certainly a lot of swimsuit beefcake, more so of the guys than the girls.
You're at the beach, for gosh sakes! And it's the guys that are surfing, the gals aren't. Nowadays, gals surf, but in the old days they just sat on the beach and watched.
Are you still working in show business?
I don't act anymore, but my partner [Allan Glaser] and I do produce films, and we have two projects that I'm really crazy about. One is based on an Evelyn Keyes novel about a young girl coming of age in the '30s in Hollywood. Then we have another called The Road Rise Up, which I think is the best love story I ever read. It's a period piece set in Ireland about a blind harpist in the18th century.
That sounds like it might need a hanky.
It's a double-hanky movie, but it's a good one.