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The Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 


Clear your schedules ... and your throats. This Friday marks the start of the 22nd annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and among the two dozen films offered are two sing-along events. Other highlights of the festival, which runs from Fri., Oct. 19, through Tue., Oct. 30, include two films screened in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Australia Festival: the coming-of-age surfer film Tan Lines, and a free screening of the heartwarming, toe-tapping 1994 drag-queen epic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Also on the slate: entertaining and provocative feature films, documentaries and shorts highlighting the gay, lesbian and transgendered experience.

Films and videos screen at the SouthSide Works Cinema, in the South Side, and the Harris Theater (809 Liberty Ave., Downtown). Tickets are $8.50 for single admissions; $6 for under 25. Discount passes are available, including: the Cheap Thrills packet ($45 for six admissions); the Scream Queen Pass ($75 for 10 admissions); and the Diva Pass ($125 for admission to all festival events and parties). See www.pilgff.org for more information.

Here is the screening schedule for the first seven days:

Fri., Oct. 19

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9 p.m. THE CURIOSITY OF CHANCE. An American high school in Europe is a challenge for military brat Chance: He's openly gay, prone to snarky quipping, no physical match for the rough-housing jocks, and teen fashion has got him down. But in Russell P. Marleau's predictable but likable coming-of-age comedy set in the 1980s, Chance finds salvation in simpatico pals, a bit of juvenile skullduggery and -- naturally -- a personal awakening in a drag club. Tad Hilgenbrink makes an infectious Chance, the plucky unconventional teen we all wish we might have been. So openly celebrate Chance's triumphs while you secretly groove on the soundtrack packed with those cheesy '80s tunes you don't dare admit loving. Director Marleau will present the film. SouthSide Works. $25 ticket includes after party. (Al Hoff)

Sat., Oct. 20

2:30 p.m. A FOUR LETTER WORD. Of course you remember Slutty Summer, Casper Andreas' bitchy-funny ode to waiting tables in New York's Gayborhood that screened at PILGFF in 2004? Well, the beautiful boys (and a girl or two) are back in this sequel, flinging insults, boas and dirty martinis, and swearing up and down that the last thing they want is l-o-v-e. Not when the man-candy store is so bountiful -- why, look at lucky Luke, who hooks up with a gorgeous, no-strings-attached hustler! Andreas' comedy, like its protagonists, moves at a brash, brisk pace, and don't be surprised if our libertines find just the four-letter word they need. To be preceded by the short film "Color Me Olsen." SouthSide Works (AH)

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4:45 p.m. BORN AGAIN. Fundamentalist Christian. Openly lesbian. Two identifiers that don't suggest an easy union, and indeed that proves to be case in filmmaker Markie Hancock's insightful documentary about her own complex journey from her intensely religious youth in Altoona, Pa., through her sexual awakening in college. Using family photos, archival footage and contemporary interviews, Hancock celebrates her hard-won identity while mourning the rifts her choices have created within her family. Her parents and siblings are extensively interviewed, and it's with sadness that we too note they are otherwise good people who can't reconcile Hancock's full life with their own beliefs. Director Hancock and producer Kathryn Gregorio will attend the screening. SouthSide Works (AH)

7 p.m. THE BUBBLE. Set in a lively Tel Aviv neighborhood, this drama from Eytan Fox (Yossi and Jagger) probes the difficulties faced by two gay lovers, one an Israeli Jew, the other a Palestinian. In Hebrew and Arabic, with subtitles. SouthSide Works

9:15 p.m. ONE NIGHT STAND. All manner of lesbian sex involving dykes, butch bois and gender queers is explored -- in explicit detail -- in Emilie Jouvet's avant-garde film which straddles documentary and sex feature as nimbly as its participants transgress boundaries. To be preceded by the short film "Good Dyke Porn." In French, with subtitles. SouthSide Works

Sun., Oct. 21

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4:45 p.m. OUTING RILEY. Writer-director Pete Jones, who won the first Project Greenlight competition with Stolen Summer, delivers this wry look at what might happen in a "typical" Irish Catholic Chicago family -- boozy; sport-obsessed; prone to pranks, late-night confessions and bear hugs -- when one of the boys comes out. Bobby (Jones) stumbles to confess his darkest secret -- a monogamous relationship with a cute, nice, successful male lawyer -- while his three very hetero-normative brothers, including a priest, struggle to deal with it. It's a sweet-natured tale, albeit with a dash of contrivance, but it's refreshing to see a male romantic lead who looks the part. (No six-pack abs for this six-pack-loving Cubs fan!) SouthSide Works (AH)

7 p.m. TAN LINES. A teen-age boy explores his burgeoning sexuality against the backdrop of his small Australian town and the homophobic surfing subculture from which he draws his identity. Ed Aldridge directs this coming-of-age story. To be screened in conjunction with The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Australia Festival. Harris

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7 p.m. SHELTER ME. This engaging drama skillfully incorporates immigration, globalization and social class, plus gender politics and homophobia, into its love-triangle narrative, which begins when vacationing lovers Anna and Mara return to Italy with a stowaway. The presence of a teen-age Moroccan boy, Anis, exposes fault lines in the film's two principal settings, privileged Anna's home and her family's shoe factory, where both Mara and Anis toil. While director Marco Simon Puccioni offers sensual pleasures including gorgeously photographed interiors, watch how often characters stir, uneasy, from bed: This is a film about a society furtive, restless, at odds with itself. In Italian, with subtitles. SouthSide Works (Bill O'Driscoll)

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9:15 p.m. THE GAY BED AND BREAKFAST OF TERROR. You may be thinking: too much chintz, microwaved eggs and Victorian-era plumbing. All scary to be sure, but nothing compared to the horrors that await the guests -- an amusing selection of gay stereotypes -- at the Sahara Salvation B&B. Jaymes Thompson's campy send-up of you-check-in-but-never-check-out scare flicks has plenty of comic gore, gratuitous nudity and a winking subtext about religious movements hoping to "straighten out the gays." Sweater queens, Mr. Leather, the lesbian folk-singer, the disco hottie -- who will survive the night? SouthSide Works (AH)

Mon., Oct. 22

7 p.m. KATE CLINTON: 25TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR. Andrea Meyerson's documentary profiles the legendary comic Kate Clinton as she laughs her way through her 25th year of performing. SouthSide Works

9 p.m. THE TWO SIDES OF THE BED. A handful of straight(ish) Spanish couples mix it up in this relationship comedy from Emilio Martinez Láza. A wedding is derailed when the bride runs off with the best man's girlfriend. The groom and his best bud chase a three-way with an impulsive cute girl they meet at a bar, while the rest of the erstwhile bridal party tests out new hook-ups. (It must be all that garlic and hearty red wine!) Straight, gay, bi, curious: Love thrills and torments them all, but there's much fun to be had -- for them and us -- in the film's spontaneous musical numbers. In Spanish, with subtitles. SouthSide Works (AH)

Tue., Oct. 23

7 p.m. WOMEN'S SHORTS. A program of short films by and about women. To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works

9:15 p.m. MEN'S SHORTS. A program of short films by and about men. To be screened via video projection. SouthSide Works

Wed., Oct. 24

7 p.m. ALEXIS ARQUETTE: SHE'S MY BROTHER. Matthew Barbato's cameras follow Alexis Arquette -- of the Hollywood acting clan -- as she prepares for male-to-female gender-reassignment surgery. It's an intriguing journey handled sensitively by the filmmakers, and often cavalierly by its subject. The admittedly self-interested Arquette makes an unreliable and frustrating narrator; likewise the few la vie Arquette bystanders who keen for camera time. What's missing is any clue as to what really motivates Arquette: gender-identity crisis, quest for the spotlight beyond the D-list or a mercurial, shape-shifting personality perpetually in flux? The filmmakers are ultimately stymied by Arquette, but they might have stretched the net wider for a more complete picture. To be preceded by the short "Trannymals Go to Court." SouthSide Works (AH)

9:30 p.m. LAUGHING MATTERS ... THE MEN. This documentary from Andrea Meyerson shines the spotlight on male gay comedians, including Oscar-telecast scribe Bruce Vilanch, to illustrate how they mine humor from the joys and trials from their lives (and the lives of hapless celebrities) -- for our chuckling benefit. SouthSide Works

Thu., Oct. 25

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7 p.m. VIVERE. Today's German cinema is defined by young filmmakers who deliver sophisticated stories that transcend the borders of the motherland to reflect the nuanced challenge of identity in the globalized European Union. Writer/director Angelina Maccarone's latest film is less challenging than her excellent Unveiled, a drama about a lesbian Iranian hiding in Germany (which screened at PILGFF in 2005). In Vivere, two Italian-German sisters try to escape their drab existence. The pair ends up in Rotterdam, where a mysterious older women joins their search for meaning. The plot is nonlinear, but the film's real draw is its gorgeous, moody camera work and fine acting. In German, Italian and Dutch, with subtitles. SouthSide Works (Heather Mull)

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9:15 p.m. SPIDER LILIES. Jade, a childlike 18-year-old who lives with her granny and earns cash shimmying for her Webcam, wants a tattoo -- and she wants it from Takeko, the young woman who years earlier was Jade's first crush. Director Zero Chou's lyrical, dreamlike (and occasionally nightmarish) romance, set in Taiwan, explores memory, love and inked flesh, with subplots involving an undercover cyber-cop and Takeko's younger brother, traumatized as a child by an earthquake's aftermath. While there's little here that's terribly fresh, Spider Lilies is a poignant study of how the search for the ideal obscures what's real, and how memory can warp perception. In Mandarin, Taiwanese and Japanese, with subtitles. SouthSide Works (BO)

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