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Queer and Here

Previewing the 18th Annual Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

The 18th annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival kicks off this Friday with a sneak preview of the outrageous British black comedy 9 Dead Gay Guys, and over the next nine days, the PILGFF will host a variety of films featuring gay characters and lifestyles. From a documentary on Bayard Rustin, a gay African-American civil rights organizer to a heartwarming feature about two Israeli servicemen in love, from a provocative look at the controversial HIV-"gifters" to a free screening of the uncensored BBC's Victorian lesbian mini-series Tipping the Velvet -- the film festival is likely to offer something for everyone.

The festival runs from Fri., Oct. 17, through Sun., Oct. 26. Films and videos screen at the Harris Theater, Downtown; 103 Margaret Morrison, Carnegie Mellon campus; and the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, East Liberty. Tickets are $7.50 for single admissions. Discount passes are available, including: the Cheap Thrills Pass ($42 for six admissions); the Screen Queen Pass ($65 for 10 admissions); and the Diva Pass ($100 for admission to all festival events including the opening night film and gala). Contact 412-232-3277 or www.pilgff.org for more information.

Here is the screening schedule for the first seven days:


Fri., Oct. 17 8 p.m. 9 DEAD GAY GUYS. This black comedy from director Ky Mo Lab follows two young Irishmen working as rent boys in London who become embroiled in the murders of some of their well-heeled clients. Over-the-top and politically incorrect, the film has already proved a hit at other film festivals. Harris. Tickets are $25; followed by opening-night gala at The Eagle.


Sat., Oct. 18 4:30 p.m. JIM IN BOLD. Glenn Holsten's effectively plain-spoken documentary is built around a simple juxtaposition. Holsten tells the sadly familiar story of Jim Wheeler, a sensitive, artistic and closeted gay teen from Lebanon, Pa., whose feelings of isolation and self-hatred ended in suicide -- and intercuts it with the idealistic, carefree travels of Benjie, Scott and Mike, who as Young Gay America bring messages of solidarity, hope and tolerance to queer kids in small towns, partly by sharing Jim's writings. With a sure touch, Holsten explores Jim's life and death in interviews with parents, siblings, friends and teachers, and showcases his accomplished paintings and poems, the latter with some imaginative video animation. Meanwhile, the YGA gang introduces us to some wonderfully articulate kids (including members of a gay Mormon youth group!) whose insight into growing up different somehow makes Wheeler's story seem only more tragic: Cruel treatment in high school was a key to his troubles, yet he killed himself not only well after graduating, but also despite an apparently supportive family whose reactions range from his mother's thoughtful reflection to his father's mournful bafflement. (Bill O'Driscoll) Harris





7 p.m. HER SHORTS. A program of short films by and about women including the wry The 10 Rules: A Lesbian Survival Guide. Harris

9:30 p.m. HIS SHORTS. A program of short films by and about men including The Moment After featuring Gerald McCullouch of CBS's CSI. Harris


Sun., Oct. 19 1 p.m. PREY FOR ROCK AND ROLL. Gina Gershon (Bound) stars in this adaptation of Cheri Lovedog's autobiographical play about an aging punk rocker fronting an all-girl band. Harris

3:30 p.m. FLEEING BY NIGHT. Set amidst the theatrical world in pre-World War II Taiwan, this 2000 film quietly unfolds a tale of unrequited and unconsummated loves between the daughter of a theater owner (Rene Liu), her cellist fiancé (Huang Lei), the troubled boy-wonder of a visiting opera troupe (Yin Chao-te), and a decadent rich man (Tai Li-jen). Lei falls hard for Chao-te, but his desperately tentative advances alert only his fiancée's suspicions. Such a love quadrangle can never be easily resolved. Sequences of Chao-te's highly stylized Chinese opera mirror the lonely flights each character must take. Modern viewers may be saddened by the inevitable outcomes. This is not a film celebrating liberation nor is it a film overtly critiquing social and cultural strictures that might hinder true love. Yet, in the end, it does find solace in the resiliency of love, in whatever diminished form it is forced to assume. Directed by Hsu Li-kong and Yin Chi. In Mandarin with subtitles. Harris





6:30 p.m. LAUGHING MATTERS. This entertaining documentary recounts the careers of lesbian stand-up comedians Kate Clinton, Marga Gomez, Suzanne Westenhoefer and Karen Williams. Harris

8:30 p.m. THE POLITICS OF FUR. This re-working of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant by writer/director Laura Nix tracks the trials of a music industry producer, her girlfriend B., her assistant Dick, and her baby tiger (this season's pet).


Mon., Oct. 20 8 p.m. YOSSI AND JAGGER. Two Israeli male soldiers stationed on a remote army base share a forbidden love while coping with flirty women, military life and their homeland's never-ceasing politics and dangers. In Hebrew with subtitles. Harris


Tue., Oct. 21 7 p.m. OUR SHORTS. A program of short films featuring senior citizens, celebrities and D.E.B.S, a Charlie's Angels-style spoof. Harris

9:30 p.m. GASOLINE. In this Italian thriller, a lesbian couple flees from their gas-station jobs after committing a murder. Besides avoiding the cops, the women also find themselves beset with the mouthy ghost of their victim. In Italian with subtitles. Harris


Wed., Oct. 22 7 p.m. WALKING ON WATER. An evening of men's films opens with this dramatic film from Australian director Tony Ayres about two friends who are tending their buddy who is terminally ill with AIDS. When various friends and family turn up to say farewell, complications ensue. Harris

9:30 p.m. SHAKE IT ALL ABOUT. In this comedy drama, Jacob loves Jorgen, and they can't wait to get married -- until Jacob starts an affair with Jorgen's sister Caroline. In Danish with subtitles. Harris

Thu., Oct. 23 7 p.m. WAVE BABES. An evening of women's films begins with this silly send-up of 1960s beach films (and last summer's surfer-chick hit Blue Crush). Three 40-ish gals -- one married, one newly single and the third very actively lesbian -- reunite for one weekend at their old beach haunt. Mix an ex-husband, a trophy wife, a pot-head beach bum and a hunky but dumb-as-rocks house boy with an ample supply of margaritas, and watch the romantic hijinks and bitch-fests begin! Screens with Dyke City, a humorous short. Harris





9:30 p.m. DO I LOVE YOU? Director Lisa Gornick stars as Marina, a young London lesbian who's entertaining a mild identity crisis. Is her current lover, Romy, the one? What about all her exes who are still in her life? Perhaps bed-hopping is the answer -- all her pals are doing it. Maybe she should try a man. In this light, but thoughtful comedy, Marina pedals about London, querying friends, family and colleagues about what it means to be sexual and faithful in today's post-gender times -- and whether she should say anything about the dreadful couch her girlfriend has brought home. Harris

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