It is perhaps a measure of the Houston gay community's clout that the first Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is sponsored not by queer activists, but by organizations more closely associated with movies: Landmark Theaters, the Museum of Fine Arts, DiverseWorks, the Rice Media Center and the Southwest Alternate Media Project. Not surprisingly, most films screened appeal not only to the obvious niche market, but also to highbrow moviegoers of the other orientation.
Over the next four weeks, the festival will feature 25 films; all but four are making their Houston debuts. For more information about festival venues, showtimes and ticket prices, call the Southwest Alternate Media Project at 522-8592.
Love! Valour! Compassion! See review. Multiple showings at the AMC Studio 30 Theatre.
Female Perversions Orlando's erotic, androgynous Tilda Swinton stars as the image of perfection. Swinton's Eve seems to have it all -- style, success, sensuality -- but her life is largely determined by gendered stereotypes of domination and submission. Multiple showings at Landmark River Oaks.
Hollow Reed A woman and her closeted gay husband try to save their crumbling marriage by producing a child. They divorce, of course, and mom's new boyfriend beats up her son. When the father begins a custody suit, his lifestyle is tried in court. Multiple showings at Landmark Greenway.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The previously released movie in which drag queens cross the Australian outback. Midnight at Landmark River Oaks.
The Watermelon Woman This faux documentary by twentysomething African-American lesbian filmmaker Cheryl Dunye was the center of a congressional controversy last year due to the racy nude love scene between Dunye and Go Fish's Guin Turner. (Dunye credits Houston congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee with saving her NEA grant.) The director describes the movie as an attempt to create a black dyke film heritage; in it, a fictional Cheryl Dunye grows obsessed with an early black mammy actress billed only as the "Watermelon Woman." 7:30 p.m. tonight and 1 p.m. May 31 at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Everything Relative Dubbed the lesbian version of The Big Chill, Everything Relative is a nostalgic film about the reunion of seven school chums who have grown up to be everything from happily married heterosexuals to muscled-up stuntwomen to singing ex-hookers. The gang spends the weekend laughing, loving and reliving their radical glory days of '70s political street theater. 9:15 p.m. tonight and 1 p.m. June 1 at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Madagascar Skin After young Harry is rejected because of the Madagascar-shaped birthmark on his face, he takes to the open sea and finds another marginal soul. Though the tattoo-covered older man seems to be heterosexual, the two fall in love on their deserted island. 7:30 p.m. tonight and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Boyfriends The creators of this film about three gay couples spending the weekend at a summer cottage interviewed more than 100 gay men about love, sex and relationships so that they would get the dialogue just right. Boyfriends will follow the short Monday Morning. 9:30 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts.
The Incredibly True Adventure of 2 Girls in Love A previously released girl-meets-girl story. Midnight at Landmark River Oaks.
Thomas Allen Harris In these three documentaries -- Heaven, Earth and Hell; Vintage; and Encounter at Intergalactic Cafe -- Harris explores the differences that inevitably develop within being "different" for gay African-Americans. 8 p.m. at DiverseWorks.
Lesbian Shorts Jodie: An Icon explores the lesbian obsession with the girl from Taxi Driver; Blood Sisters is an insider's guide to San Franciscan sadomasochism; and Shinjuku Boys documents the lives of three Japanese "annabes," gender-bending women who live as men and have girlfriends. 8 p.m. at DiverseWorks.
Jeffrey The title character finds the courage to fall in love with Mr. Right. Previously released. Midnight, Landmark River Oaks.
Claiming America's Promise The film documents the journey of 200 Houstonians to Washington to support equal rights and opportunities for their gay children. 1 p.m. Part of "Family Viewing Day" at DiverseWorks.
Family Values Pam Walton deals with her own family history of religious extremism. 3:30 p.m. Part of "Family Viewing Day" at DiverseWorks.
It's Elementary Produced by the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, this film adopts a child's point of view in the debate about gay issues in multicultural education. 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Part of "Family Viewing Day" at DiverseWorks.
All God's Children Dee Mosbacher (yes, the lesbian sister of mayoral aspirant Rob) uses statements from religious and political leaders to support her documentary about the black church's acceptance of African-American homosexuals. 4:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Part of "Family Viewing Day" at DiverseWorks.
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Boys Life 2 The sequel to the popular 1995 collection of short films by the same name, Boys Life 2 focuses on discovery and coming of age. Among the new crop of shorts are Must Be the Music and Trevor, garden-variety coming-out stories; Alkali, Iowa mixes in a young farmer who doesn't know his father's sexual identity. And in Nunzio's Second Cousin, a gay Chicago cop takes revenge on his homophobic attacker by inviting him to dinner with mom. 7:30 p.m. at the Rice Media Center.
Late Bloomers In the heart of the Bible Belt, a married high school secretary and a geometry teacher/girls' basketball coach start out shooting hoops in the schoolyard. But a particularly heated one-on-one game leads to a passionate kiss, and the secretary leaves her husband and 16-year-old daughter. 7:30 p.m. at the Rice Media Center.
Go Fish Can a tomboyish party girl find love with a tea-drinking loner? Previously released. Midnight, Landmark River Oaks.
Gay Cuba Documentary-maker Sonja De Vries talks with a radio show host, a union leader, a musician and a drag queen to get the scoop on the country's changing treatment of gays and lesbians. Gay Cuba is preceded by two short films: The Fight, a close-up look at the masculinity and sensuality of a boxing match; and Harlequin Exterminator, a love story revolving around a woman who writes roach-killer commercials for a Hispanic ad agency. 7:30 p.m. at the Rice Media Center.