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Jack Wrangler & 'Fucking Different Tel Aviv': London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Goes Places

John Hurt in The Naked Civil Servant

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Friday, March 27, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

The Naked Civil Servant

Directed by: Jack Gold. Cast: John Hurt, Liz Gebhardt, Patricia Hodge: Country: UK. Year: 1975. Running time: 85min.

This dramatization of Quentin [Crisp]'s first volume of autobiography won BAFTAs for its director Jack Gold and its star. John Hurt gives a dazzling performance as the young Quentin, a flame-haired flamboyant homosexual when such things were not permitted. It contains much of the wit and wisdom of Quentin and celebrates a life lived in a refusal to conform. The highlight is Quentin's impassioned speech from the dock when charged with soliciting for an immoral purpose.

Plus an interview with Bernard Braden filmed in 1967. Previously unseen this colour interview shows Quentin before he became famous.

John Hurt in An Englishman in New York

An Englishman in New York

Directed by: Richard Laxton. Cast: John Hurt, Cynthia Nixon, Jonathan Tucker, Swoosie Kurtz.

Distributor: ITV/Leopard International : Country: UK. Year: 2009. Running time: 74min.

John Hurt stars in the long-awaited follow-up to The Naked Civil Servant, the ground-breaking television drama first broadcast on ITV in 1975. An Englishman in New York tells the story of Quentin's new life when he emigrates to Manhattan aged 70. Quentin's flamboyant wit guaranteed a life of social engagements but his outspoken dismissal of AIDS as a fad threatened to destroy his reputation. Mr. Hurt shines as Mr. Crisp in this new film which explores Crisp's relationship with young gay artist Patrick Angus, who contracts AIDS. Writer Brian Fillis and director Richard Laxton have dramatised the Crisp legend as revealed in his diaries for the New York Native and some of his writings from Resident Alien combined with memories from his closest New York associates.

Bramadero by Julian Hernandez

"Investigating Desire"

Short films which explore gay male physical intimacy, with some explicit scenes

No Strings Attached
Germany 2007. Dir Alexandre Powelz. 20min.
Documentary showing a demon cruiser in action.

Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head
Singapore 2007. Dir X'Ho. 15min.
Banned in Singapore, a young man muses on his hero Allen Ginsberg.

My Cock is a Dildo
Sweden 2007. Dir Ester Martin Bergsmark, Emanuel Nyberg. 9min.
Camera and bodies interact in a Swedish short as two young men indulge in playful experimentation.

Bramadero (above)
Mexico 2008. Dir Julián Hernández. 20min.
On the outskirts of Mexico City a building site is the location for a leisurely and highly charged romantic encounter.

Superm Highway
USA 2006. Dir Slava Mogutin, Brian Kenny. 6min.
A revealing series of stills taken in the dark leaves little to the imagination.

Dan's Big Hands
USA 2008. Dir Jack Curtis Dubowsky. 4min.
A musical celebration of a man's passion for Dan's hands.

The Window
USA 2008. Dir Philippe Gosselin, Ronald Regina. 6min.
Three men discover the pleasures of voyeurism. Don't miss the last scene.

Nighthawks by Ron Peck, Paul Hallam

Nighthawks

Directed by: Ron Peck, Paul Hallam. Cast: Ken Robertson, Stuart Craig Turton, Rachel Nicholas James.

Distributor: BFI: Country: UK. Year: 1978. Running time: 113min.

Recently restored by the BFI and 30 years since its first UK release, we present a special screening of Nighthawks in the presence of filmmakers Ron Peck and Paul Hallam, plus several of the cast and crew for a discussion which will be led by Matt Lucas. This pioneering film was the first British gay feature which dealt unapologetically with homosexuality. Centring on the character of Jim, a gay teacher, it is an important historical document of a moment in London gay life that offers a view of the potentially alienating effects of the gay scene but emphasizes the importance of coming out. The hundreds of extras were drawn from London club-goers and gay activists and filmed in a number of London pubs and clubs. One of the most memorable scenes is when Jim is forced to confront a class who ask if he is gay. A close-up of Jim on the dancefloor, his eyes darting to and fro, captures the anxiety of the endless search for Mr Right. Brian Robinson

LA Plays Itself by Fred Halsted

L.A. Plays Itself and Sex Garage

Artist William E. Jones introduces two hardcore films by legendary 1970s sex radical Fred Halsted, LA Plays Itself and ..

Directed by: Fred Halsted. Cast: Fred Halsted, Joseph Yale, Jim Frost: Country: USA. Year: 1972. Running time: 55min.

Sex Garage.

Directed by: Fred Halsted. Cast: Gus Harvey, Sonia Boyd, Bob Madison: Country: USA. Year: 1972. Running time: 35min.

In anticipation of his forthcoming book on legendary sex radical Fred Halsted, filmmaker William E. Jones (V.O., Tearoom) returns to the LLGFF to introduce a rare screening of hardcore Halsted films. Reconstructed to approximate its original theatrical version, the episodic LA Plays Itself contrasts two sexual drifters - one lingering in idyllic Malibu Canyon, the other cruising the gritty streets of 1970s LA.

Shot with an underground art aesthetic of dramatic shadows and non-synchronous sound, this deliciously disturbing film captured the raw underbelly of 1970s LA as few films ever have and introduced S/M sex (including scenes with lover Joey York) to gay pornography.

Sex Garage, a featurette created as a theatrical accompaniment to LA Plays Itself, takes Kenneth Anger's fetish aesthetic to the hardcore limit.

The Lost Coast by Gabriel Fleming

The Lost Coast

Directed by: Gabriel Fleming. Cast: Ian Scott McGregor, Lucas Alifano, Lindsay Benner: Country: USA . Year: 2008. Running time: 74min.

Set over the course of one long Halloween night, The Lost Coast follows Mark, Jasper and Lily, three friends from high school now in their early twenties. In their formative years, Mark used to date Lily, whilst also indulging in some adolescent experimentation with Jasper. Years later, Mark is openly gay, while Jasper is straight and refuses to acknowledge his secret past. Joined by their obnoxious friend Caleb, the group trawl through the night on a hunt for Ecstasy, a journey that triggers off reminiscences of the past and ignites some long buried emotions. Incorporating elements of the US indie scene's mumblecore movement, Gabriel Fleming's understated film is a haunting vision of friendship, sexuality and hidden desires. The often dreamlike visual style effectively complements the awkwardness of the characters, and the final sequences of the friends roaming the dusky beaches of San Francisco's Lost Coast linger long in the mind. Michael Blyth

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Sunday, March 29, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Born in 68 by Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel

Born in 68

Directed by: Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel. Cast: Laetitia Casta, Yannick Renier, Yann Trégouët .

Distributor: Peccadillo Pictures: Country: France. Year: 2008. Running time: 170min.

Festival favourites Martineau and Ducastel return to the LLGFF with an epic drama covering life and sexual politics in France. Friends and lovers caught up in the excitement of May '68 at the Sorbonne eventually leave Paris for a communal life in the country. The collective seems at first like a fairytale of left wing hippydom. But principles are betrayed as members of the commune drift away to bourgeois careers. Laetitia Casta gives a great performance as the central figure, Catherine, loved by both Hervé and Yves, eventually left by everyone, she remains a gentle but determined matriarch. At almost three hours this film doesn't feel like its navigation through 40 years is rushed. It offers a lesson in the hopes and dreams of the generation of 68 and how we live now. Brian Robinson

Fanny Ardant in The Secrets

The Secrets

Directed by: Avi Nesher. Cast: Fanny Ardant, Ania Bukstein, Michal Shtamler: Country: France-Israel. Year: 2007. Running time: 120min.

In a repressive orthodox culture where women are forbidden to speak out, Naomi is a rare creature, an intelligent young woman who yearns to learn more about her faith and perhaps become a rabbi like her father. Postponing her arranged marriage so she can go study at a Jewish seminary for women, Naomi's devout faith and belief system is rocked when the Western influenced Michelle joins the school. The two young women quickly develop a friendship that turns into more as they meet the ailing Anouk (Fanny Ardant in a brilliant supporting role), who seeks absolution for her mysterious past. This is a beautifully made film of Naomi's journey into womanhood, the struggle she faces to be true to herself and her faith, and the threat her love for Michelle poses in the orthodox world. Emma Smart

The New World by Etienne Dhaene

The New World

Directed by: Étienne Dhaene. Cast: Natalia Dontcheva, Vanessa Larré: Country: France. Year: 2007. Running time: 90min.

Lucie a school teacher who feels unable to come out at work wants a baby but her motorbike-riding girlfriend Marion is less keen, perhaps because her own mother can't accept who she is. Love prevails in this funny quirky tale of lesbian motherhood in the French suburbs, and thanks to the support of their lesbian friends plus a helpful vial of sperm from longtime friend Hugo our happy couple get pregnant. But what happens when Hugo, wants to be more involved with the baby's life than either woman expected? Emma Smart

Os Sapatos de Aristeu by Luiz Rene Guerra

"A Twist in the Latin Tale"

Refreshingly original tales of heartbreak, lust and love that convey the rich diversity of queer lives in Latin America.

Spying on the Man
Colombia-Argentina 2007. Dir Luis Monteaegre. 6min.
Lunch break brings an unusual ménage à trios in a men's toilet.

They Love Each Other
Dir Laura Astorga Carrera. 18min.
When two factory workers are mistaken for lesbians, they develop a close bond.

After Everything
Brazil 2008. Dir Rafael Saar. 12min.
A loving elderly couple must endure the difficulty of saying goodbye again.

The Last Wish
Argentina 2007. Dir Marco Berger. 10min.
A prisoner's last wish confounds his executioners.

Aristeu's Shoes (above)
Brazil 2008. Dir Luiz René Guerra. 17min.
One mother must confront the identity of her deceased transgender daughter.

Between Color and Razors
Brazil 2007. Dir Catarina Accioly, Iberé Carvalho. 15min.
When Antony meets bus conductor Esperança on his daily commute, their lives transform in unexpected ways.

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Saturday, March 28, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Dolls by Karin Babinska

Dolls

Directed by: Karin Babinská. Cast: Marie Dolezalová, Sandra Nováková, Petra Nesvacilova: Country: Czech Republic. Year: 2007. Running time: 99min.

This debut feature from Karin Babinská is a beautifully made and poignant coming of age tale, about three best friends from high school embarking on their last summer together before going their separate ways at summer's end. Iska, struggling to understand her burgeoning sexuality and why she feels different from other girls, has been forced to join her little brother Vojta at a summer camp for athletes. Whilst he can back flip and somersault like a pro, the timid Iska can barely hold her own against a punch bag. When her two friends, flirtatious Karolína and homely Vendula, turn up to whisk her away to Holland for summer jobs there's only one problem: Vojta insists on coming along with them. Before they even leave the camp tensions mount between the trio, with Karolína and Vendula competing for the attentions of a macho security guard and Iska looking on longingly at the pretty Karolína, her secret crush getting harder to conceal from her friend. The road trip begins to deteriorate when Vendula risks going off on her own, and the affection Karolína was so eager to give Iska when it suited her purposes is callously taken away. Teetering on the brink of adulthood, trying to discover and understand who they are, each young woman takes a step closer to growing up and finding their place in the world. For anyone who has harboured a secret love, remembers the agony and ecstasy of discovering their sexuality, and had teenage friends you just couldn't live without, Dolls is the perfect embodiment of that time and those feelings. A richly layered and ultimately uplifting film. Emma Smart

I Could Go On Singing

Directed by: Ronald Neame. Cast: Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde: Country: UK. Year: 1963. Running time: 100min.

A rare chance to see Judy's last film in which she plays singer Jenny Bowman, a character not a million miles away from the real Judy. It's a tour de force performance, even more compelling when one tries to discern where Judy ends and the neurotic lonely Jenny begins.

In London for a week long engagement at the Palladium Jenny looks up her old flame David Donne (a perfectly cast Dirk Bogarde) whose adopted son Matt is actually the boy Jenny gave up years ago. She's back to see her son and whisks him away from boarding school for a few magical days in London. In true melodramatic style things unravel quickly and Jenny is forced once more to make a heartbreaking choice.

As a swansong for the gay icon you couldn't ask for more, this is Judy's finest hour.

Patrik 1.5 by Ella Lemhagen

Patrik 1.5

Directed by: Ella Lemhagen. Cast: Gustaf Skarsgård, Torkel Petersson, Tom Ljungman: Country: Sweden. Year: 2008. Running time: 100min.

Göran and Sven are a happily married couple. Living in the picturesque suburbs of Sweden, they just need one last thing to make their domestic bliss complete - a baby. When the prospect of adoption looks unlikely, they almost give up hope, until they receive an unexpected letter announcing they are to be given a child. Unfortunately for Göran and Sven, a typo means the one and a half year old baby they are expecting turns out to be a 15-year-old homophobic tearaway named Patrik. Full of witty perceptions on suburban life, director Ella Lemhagen handles the material with an immaculate eye for detail and a sly visual humour, resulting in a more discerning and thought-provoking experience than the original set up might first imply. Effortlessly finding the balance between comedy and drama, Patrik 1.5 is a joyful and unashamedly feel-good treat. Michael Blyth

Twice a Man Gregory J. Markopoulos

Twice a Man

Directed by: Gregory J. Markopoulos. Cast: Paul Kilb, Olympia Dukakis, Albert Torgesen: Country: USA. Year: 1963. Running time: 49min.

Twice A Man is a fragmented re-imagining of the Greek myth of Hippolytus, who was killed after rejecting the advances of his stepmother. Markopoulos' vision transposes the legend to 1960s New York and has its main character abandon his mother for an elder man. Employing sensuous use of colour, the film radicalised narrative construction with its mosaic of 'thought images' that shift tenses and compress time.

One of the touchstones of independent filmmaking, Twice A Man was made in the same remarkable milieu as Scorpio Rising and Flaming Creatures by a filmmaker named 'the American avant-garde cinema's supreme erotic poet' by its key critic P. Adams Sitney.

Three Summers by Carlos Oliveira

"Lucky Dip"

Powerful narrative shorts with a broad appeal.

The Postcard
Korea 2007. Dir Josh Kim. 15min.
Sending anonymous declarations of love on a postcard seemed like a good idea to hook the postman.

Wrestling
Iceland 2007. Dir Grímur Hákonarson. 21min.
A pair of wrestlers grapple with desire and each other.

The Chef's Letter
UK 2007. Dir Sybil Mair. 15min.
A chef is overwhelmed by unrequited love.

Three Summers (above)
Denmark 2006. Dir Carlos Oliveira. 28min.
Three summer holidays reveal three stages in a relationship for Jorgen and Thomas.

The Devil's Cleavage by George Kuchar

The Devil's Cleavage

Directed by: George Kuchar. Cast: Ainslie Pryor, Curt McDowell, Virginia Giritlian: Country: USA. Year: 1973. Running time: 110min.

As a companion piece to the documentary on the Kuchar Brothers It Came from Kuchar, the LLGFF presents a special late-night screening of George Kuchar's celebrated cult classic, The Devil's Cleavage. An influence to filmmakers such as John Waters and Guy Maddin - as well as amateurs everywhere - The Devil's Cleavage is Kuchar's delightfully anarchic, hilarious, and low-budget feature tribute to his favorite commercial genre, the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood melodrama. Mocking a vast array of cinematic references, the master of camp excess takes on the weepie! Kuchar's eccentric collection of friends and film misfits star in the film, including the late gay filmmaker (and Kuchar's Thundercrack! collaborator) Curt McDowell as Frank. Unavailable on DVD and rarely screened in cinemas, this is a London event not to be missed! Kyle Stephan

March 28

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Monday, March 30, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Lion's Den by Pablo Trapero

Lion's Den

Directed by: Pablo Trapero. Cast: Martina Gusman, Elli Medeiros, Laura García.

Distributor: Unanimous Pictures: Country: Argentina. Year: 2008. Running time: 113min.

Julia, a two weeks pregnant 25-year-old student is sent to prison for a crime she may or may not have committed - the murder of her boyfriend's male lover. No one can remember what happened that night, and as Julia adjusts to life inside prison walls, gradually commanding respect from other inmates on the 'maternity' wing and developing a tender and loving relationship with fellow internee Marta, she not only has to fight her wrongful incarceration, but also for her son Tomas, born inside prison and due to be taken away from her on his fourth birthday. A classic women-in-prison drama that goes beyond the constraints of the genre, this film is both a harsh depiction of prison life and the tenderness that can also be found inside. Emma Smart

Theresa Russell, Debra Winger in Black Widow

Black Widow

Directed by: Bob Rafelson. Cast: Theresa Russell, Debra Winger: Country: USA. Year: 1987. Running time: 102min.

Relocating the genre from its shadowy urban interiors and onto the golden beaches of Hawaii, Bob Rafelson's sun-drenched contemporary noir is a much discussed queer classic. Theresa Russell stars as the 'black widow' of the film's title, a woman who marries a succession of wealthy men, only to murder them and take their money. Pitted against her is probing journalist Alex Barnes (Debra Winger), who sets out to uncover the femme fatale, yet becomes obsessed with her along the way.

Those who celebrate the film have argued the case for its feminist credentials and subversive play on traditional gender roles within the film noir genre, while its detractors see it as little more than a male fantasy writ large. Either way, it's a fascinating film, loaded with sub-text and intrigue, that stands up today as one of the most wickedly pleasurable examples of queer noir.

Steam by Kyle Schickner

Steam

Directed by: Kyle Schickner. Cast: Ally Sheedy, Ruby Dee, Kate Siegel: Country: USA. Year: 2008. Running time: 120min.

Three vastly different women share a steam room at the local gym hoping their troubles will melt away, not realising it's both the company and the steam that helps free them. Elizabeth (the beautiful Kate Siegel) is a sheltered college student with domineering parents who wrestles with coming out as she falls in love with a woman for the first time. Laurie (brilliant Ally Sheedy) struggles to be a good mother when her aggressive ex-husband seeks custody of their son because she begins a relationship with a much younger man. And finally Doris (the excellent Ruby Dee) is a recent widow who finds it hard to come to terms with her loss until a new man in her life teaches her how to love again. A beautifully interwoven story of love and personal awakening. Emma Smart

Eros o Basileus by Gregory J. Markopoulos

Eros, o Basileus

Directed by: Gregory J. Markopoulos. Cast: Robert Beavers: Country: USA. Year: 1967. Running time: 45min.

Through a Lens Brightly: Mark Turbyfill

Directed by: Gregory J. Markopoulos: Country: USA. Year: 1967. Running time: 15min.

[Gregory J.] Markopoulos' invocation of Eros merges classical and contemporary imagery by placing the male god of love in an artists' loft. The sole protagonist, predominantly naked, appears in a series of tableaux surrounded by icons of creativity, including paintings, books and filmmaking equipment. This sculptural study of the human form is energised by flash frames, stylised fades, and Strauss' tone-poem 'Ein Heldenleben'.

Eros is portrayed by the young filmmaker Robert Beavers, who had recently moved to New York after seeing films by Markopoulos and other New American Cinema pioneers. Both soon left America for Europe, where they remained together until Markopoulos' death in 1992.

Through a Lens Brightly: Mark Turbyfill

The life of painter, dancer and poet Mark Turbyfill, seen in his 70th year, is evoked through traditional portraiture and personal objects.

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Tuesday, March 31, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Madame X - An Absolute Ruler by Ulrike Ottinger

Madame X - An Absolute Ruler

Directed by: Ulrike Ottinger. Cast: Tabea Blumenschein: Country: West Germany. Year: 1977. Running time: 141min.

Adventure and fun on the high seas comes at a price for this band of stereotyped women, who answer a call to join Madame X on her ship Chinese Orlando and experience a life without rules and patriarchal tyranny. However old roles reassert themselves and the women find themselves swapping one kind of servitude for another as Madame X demands complete devotion from her shipmates, even the ones she is enamoured with.

An early low-budget film from renowned avant-garde filmmaker [Ulrike] Ottinger, who actually took all crew positions while shooting in order to bring her outlandish vision to light. Madame X subverts traditional modes of narrative cinema creating a challenging and allegorical tale of female empowerment.

To Each Her Own by Heather Tobin

To Each Her Own

Directed by: Heather Tobin. Cast: Hannah Hogan, Tracy Rae, Shaughnessy Redden: Country: Canada. Year: 2008. Running time: 109min.

This assured debut by talented all-rounder Heather Tobin (she scripted, produced, shot and edited the film) is the coming out tale of young married Jess and the emotional rollercoaster she finds herself on when she meets and instantly falls for out and proud lesbian Casey. Growing up with a mother that believes homosexuality is a sin it's no wonder Jess buried her true feelings and married her high school sweetheart fresh after graduation. Yet she's unable to keep away from the charming Casey and the two young women embark on an affair, discovering what it means to truly love someone. But will love be enough for Jess to tell the truth and come out? An award-winning film at numerous festivals this low-budget gem marks Tobin out as a director to watch. Emma Smart

Alex Loynaz in Pedro

Pedro

Directed by: Nick Oceano. Cast: Alex Loynaz, Justina Machado, Hale Appleman: Country: USA. Year: 2008. Running time: 93min.

A biopic celebrating a remarkable individual. Pedro Zamora was in MTV's Real World show in 1994 as an HIV positive person. He had been born in Cuba and then moved to Miami in the Marielitas exodus in 1980. Diagnosed with HIV as early as seventeen he became a peer educator speaking in schools about prevention. He died aged just 22 before the Real World's final transmission but he had been able to carry out his dream of getting his message across to as many people as possible. Producers including Wash West and Richard Glatzer (The Fluffer, Echo Park, LA), scriptwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and first time director Nick Oceano have combined their talents to make this a very special film. Acting honours to Alex Loynaz as Pedro and his sister Mily played by Justina Machado who you may recognize from Six Feet Under. Bring a hanky. Brian Robinson

Stonewall by Nigel Finch

Stonewall

Directed by: Nigel Finch. Cast: Guillermo Diaz, Fred Weller, Brendan Corbalis: Country: UK. Year: 1995. Running time: 93min.

A spirited recreation of the lives of some of the people who hung out at the Stonewall Inn seen through the recollections of La Miranda/Hector, a fierce and fabulous drag queen who falls in love with Matty Dean, a bright young man she meets in the bar. The action leads up to the fateful night of 27th June 1969. A mood of defiance is in the air as the police make what seems like a routine raid on an illegal gay bar. Personal tensions of the bar patrons combine with police brutality to create an eruption of popular protest which becomes one of the defining moments of the modern gay liberation movement. Not every historical detail is correct but it feels emotionally true and quite powerful. Director Nigel Finch died from Aids shortly after completing the film.

March 29

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Wednesday, April 1, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Before Stonewall by Greta Schiller, Robert Rosenberg

Before Stonewall

Directed by: Greta Schiller, Robert Rosenberg.

Distributor: Peccadillo Pictures: Country: USA. Year: 1984. Running time: 87min.

25 years ago this film felt like a revelation of a hidden gay history. Conventional wisdom had defined the modern movement for gay liberation from the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York, however, this film shows just how much activism and creativity haad been going on before 1969. A dazzling line-up of interviewees includes poets, writers, political organizers, dancers, actors who bear witness to a life before Stonewall, including Allen Ginsberg, Audre Lorde, Barbara Gittings, Harry Hay, Ann Bannon and many more.

The courage and bravery of those who dared to challenge the world has helped create the modern gay community. This is also a work of extraordinary archival research, finding footage which showed the undeniable existence of gay men and lesbians throughout the 20th century. Essential viewing for anyone who wants to get a sense of our history.

The American Soldier by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

The American Soldier

Directed by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Cast: Karl Scheydt, Elga Sorbas, Jan George: Country: Germany. Year: 1970. Running time: 80min.

Arguably the strongest of Fassbinder's early gangster films, The American Soldier is a witty, subversive take on the film noir genre, displaying many of the themes of loneliness and exploitation Fassbinder would develop throughout his prolific career.

Upon returning to Munich, Vietnam veteran Ricky (Karl Scheydt) is recruited as a hitman by a group of corrupt cops, intent of ridding the city of some of its trickiest criminals. Although when Ricky falls for a policeman's girl, the plan starts to unravel. Loose and often surreal in its storytelling, Fassbinder presents a playful response to the crime thrillers of classic Hollywood, which could be viewed as either an homage or a parody of the genre. Despite the mischievous tone, the film has a devastating impact, culminating in one of the most powerful and extraordinary closing scenes ever seen in film.

Ghosted by Monika Treut

Ghosted

Directed by: Monika Treut. Cast: Inga Busch, Huan-Ru Ke, Ting-Ting Hu: Country: Germany-Taiwan. Year: 2009. Running time: 89min.

Fresh from its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival we're delighted to present Monika Treut's (Female Misbehaviour, Gendernauts) latest film as a Centrepiece to this year's LLGFF. Ghosted is a mysterious love story set in Hamburg and the beautifully depicted Taipei, marking a return to narrative filmmaking for the director after almost a decade in documentary work. Through a mixture of flashback and present day storytelling we follow the Hamburg artist Sophie as she comes to terms with her Taiwanese lover Ai-Ling's murder. To ease her grief she creates a video installation about Ai-Ling, travelling to Taipei to exhibit and dedicate it to her. There she meets ambitious and seductive journalist Mei-Li who is investigating Ai-Ling's death, and whom the artist is immediately drawn to. Unable to forget her dead lover Sophie runs from the journalist's advances back to Hamburg, but when Mei-Li turns up on her doorstep Sophie can no longer deny her attraction. She risks opening her heart up once more until she discovers Mei-Li isn't all that she seems, and Sophie realises that you can't run away from your past. Ghosted is an intimately shot film with excellent use of location shooting in both Hamburg and Taipei. Treut's return to narrative film builds on an already impressive oeuvre, creating a modern love story that questions and explores the differences between eastern and western cultures. Emma Smart

Veruschka von Lehndorff in The Image of Dorian Gray in the Yellow Press

The Image of Dorian Gray in the Yellow Press

Directed by: Ulrike Ottinger. Cast: Delphine Seyrig, Tabea Blumenschein, Veruschka von Lehndorff: Country: West Germany. Year: 1984. Running time: 150min.

Dorian Gray, young, rich, handsome and above all narcissistic, wiles away his days attending lectures, art exhibits and charity dinners. His life is lived out of the public eye until the cynical head of a media conglomerate decides to turn him into a celebrity in an unscrupulous ploy to boost newspaper sales. Dorian soon forgets his noble pursuits as he becomes front page news around the world. But can Dorian handle the power of celebrity or will it destroy him?

A more accessible film than her earlier Madame X, Dorian Gray boasts compelling performances from Ottinger regulars Seyrig and Blumenschein, but it is 1960s supermodel Veruschka von Lehndorff in impeccable drag as Dorian, who falls in love with Blumenschein's opera singer, that gives this film its dyke credentials.

March 30

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Thursday, April 2, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Campillo, Yes I Do by Andres Rubio

One Summer in New Paltz, a Cautionary Tale Cast: Nancy Nicol: Country: Canada. Year: 2008. Running time: 54min.

Campillo, Yes I Do

Directed by: Andrés Rubio: Country: Spain. Year: 2008. Running time: 52min.

One Summer in New Paltz, a Cautionary Tale

In 2005, George W. Bush called for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to enshrine a heterosexual definition of marriage. The mayor of New Paltz however didn't agree and performed 26 gay weddings one sunny afternoon, beginning a wave of civil disobedience. Whether you are the marrying type or not, only the hardest of hearts could fail to be moved by this clever and touching film about love, commitment and pissing off George Bush. Jason Barker

Campillo, Yes I Do

When same sex marriages became legal in Spain in 2005, many mayors refused to perform them but the gay mayor of Campillo, a remote mountain village of 50 inhabitants, said “I do!” Stunningly beautiful, quirky and moving, this is a year in the life of the new gay wedding capital of Spain.

Ottica Zero

"Outside to Catch the Action"

Artists' film and video work co-curated by arts agency Electra.

Bodies of Society
Sweden 2006. Dir Klara Liden. 5min.
A sadomasochistic relationship with a bicycle.

Ottica Zero
Sweden 2007. Dir Maja Borg. 13min.
Strikingly beautiful portrait of a reclusive movie star.

Can't Swallow it, Can't Spit it Out
USA 2006. Dir Harry Dodge, Stanya Kahn. 26min.
Whitney Biennial 2008 favourite.

N.O. Body
Germany 2008. Dir Pauline Boudry, Renate Lorenz. 15min.
N.O. Body questions the identity of the 'freak'.

Berlinmuren
Norway 2008. Dir Lars Laumann. 24min.
An object-sexual woman married to the Berlin Wall.

Metalpleater
UK 2009. Dir Charlotte Prodger. 8min.
An object for pleating mountains.

Nature Demo
USA 2008. Dir Harry Dodge, Stanya Kahn. 9min.
Dodge and Kahn simulate a trip into the wild.

Burn the Bridges by Francisco Franco

Burn the Bridges

Directed by: Francisco Franco. Cast: Irene Azuela, Ángel Onésimo Nevares, Claudette Maillé.

Distributor: Peccadillo Pictures: Country: Mexico. Year: 2007. Running time: 105min.

Siblings Helena and Sebastián live in a crumbling colonial villa with their dying mother, a former pop star, in central Mexico. Nineteen-year-old Helena, a bewitchingly charismatic and determined girl, quits school to become her mother's caretaker. She also lovingly assumes parental responsibility for her shy, artistic brother Sebastián who attends the local Catholic high school. Isolated in the secluded villa, Helena reads to her mother and practices English in the hope of someday visiting the snowy mountains of Canada. However, as time goes by and their mother's condition worsens, Helena grows jealous of the passive Sebastián who roams freely, if awkwardly, through his teenage life of denial. Their symbiotic relationship is further ruptured when Sebastián meets troubled Juan, a tough new student from the coast who awakens a sense of danger, desire, and possibility in him. After their mother dies and fate of their home becomes uncertain, the emotional rivalry between the siblings reaches an operatic intensity as they confront the limits of fraternal loyalty and the choice of living in the past or destroying it to manifest their dreams.

An accomplished stage director in Mexico, Francisco Franco delivers a beautifully photographed and mature debut film that is, at turns, dark, tender, and humorous. Phenomenal acting, including an Ariel award-winning performance by Irene Azuela as Helena, elevates a script with limited dialogue to glorious heights of raw teenage emotion. Successful at international film festivals as well in its home country, Burn the Bridges is a moving testament to the courage it takes to live one's life to the fullest. Kyle Stephan

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

April 1

Friday, April 3, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Johanna D'Arc of Mongolia by Ulrike Ottinger

Johanna D'Arc of Mongolia

Directed by: Ulrike Ottinger. Cast: Delphine Seyrig Xu Re Huar, Inès Sastre: Country: West Germany. Year: 1989. Running time: 165min.

All aboard the Trans-Siberian railway where you'll find titled ladies, Broadway stars, camp cabaret acts and a Mongolian princess who has come to kidnap them all. This sumptuous epic from Ottinger ranges from the obvious artifice of a studio film to an almost documentary realism when the film moves from train to the glorious vista of the Mongolian landscape. As the culture clash between the Western women and their Mongolian 'hosts' intensifies a sweet love affair blossoms between the princess and the young Giovanna, the Johanna of the title.

Like all Ottinger's films this boasts amazing visuals, elaborate costumes and outstanding roles for women to portray, none better than long time Ottinger collaborator Delphine Seyrig in her final screen role.

Awakening by Christian Tafdrup

"The Shape of Things to Come"

Hidden feelings and first crushes, this collection of shorts looks at a time in life when things finally start to make sense.

Benny's Gym
Norway 2008. Dir Marie Gamlem. 25min.
Alfred is a shy eleven-year-old who is bullied at school. But when one of his tormentors, Benny, asks him for a favour, the two form a close friendship that they must keep quiet.

Mr A
USA 2008. Dir Joe Murphy. 12min.
When a curious teenage boy finds his teacher's profile on a gay dating website, he makes an unexpected move that has some serious consequences.

Protect Me From What I Want
UK 2008. Dir Dominic Leclerc. 14min.
After a brief tryst with the handsome Daz in an underground archway, closeted teenager Saleem questions whether the two should meet again.

Awakening
Denmark 2008. Dir Christian Tafdrup. 38min.
While on a weekend break with his girlfriend and her family, Carsten has an unexpected sexual encounter that forces him to re-evaluate his life. A confident and beautifully filmed study of burgeoning desire and self-discovery.

Bandaged by Maria Beatty

Bandaged

Directed by: Maria Beatty. Cast: Janna Lisa Dombrowsky, Susanne Sachsse: Country: Germany-USA. Year: 2009. Running time: 91min.

Old-style horror blends with forbidden love in this excellent period thriller. Lucille lives with her domineering father and grandmother in a creepy mansion out in the middle of nowhere. She's about to turn eighteen and longs to go to college to study poetry, but her surgeon father insists the sciences are the way to go. Feeling as though she has no way out Lucille attempts suicide after rifling in her father's lab. She survives, but is left with hideous burns to her face, which her father chooses to treat at home. He hires a sultry nurse with her own chequered past to look after Lucille. Spending 24 hours together every day leads patient and nurse to discover passionate feelings for each other, the bandages come off and soon a torrid affair begins. Emma Smart

57000 Km Between Us by Delphine Kreuter

57000 Km Between Us

Directed by: Delphine Kreuter. Cast: Florence Thomassin, Stéphanie Michelini, Mathieu Amalric: Country: France. Year: 2007. Running time: 82min.

Life is complicated for 14-year-old Nat. Shut away in her bedroom, she fills her days playing computer games and chatting to her online friends, while outside her mother and stepfather satisfy their narcissistic urges by keeping an internet video blog of their lives. Tired of her home life, Nat would much rather live with her transsexual father and her partner Khaled instead. Drawing on her background in photography and video art, first-time filmmaker Delphine Kreuter has assembled a fiercely original and contemporary work that dissects the alienating role of technology in our lives. The largely handheld camera work is disorienting but controlled, with Kreuter's meticulous eye for composition producing some startling imagery. In this world of dysfunction and eccentricity, it is Nat's relationship with her transsexual father that keeps her grounded and provides a striking and heartfelt component to this truly unconventional film. Michael Blyth

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Saturday, April 4, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Catherine Deneuve in Apres lui

Après lui

Directed by: Gaël Morel. Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Thomas Dumerchez, Adrien Jolivet: Country: France. Year: 2007. Running time: 90min.

Following the sudden death of her son Mathieu in a car accident, Camille (Catherine Deneuve) reaches out to his best friend Franck in an attempt to cope with her loss and gain a focus for her pain. However, this initially cathartic relationship soon begins to border on the obsessive, and Camille's family begin to question her state of mind as she devotes more and more time to Franck. While the film hints at a possible sexual relationship between Franck and Mathieu in the opening scenes, sexuality is not the focus here. Instead, director Gaël Morel (À Toute Vitesse, Le Clan) and co-writer Christophe Honoré (Les Chansons d'amour) have put together a beautifully controlled meditation on the suffocating nature of grief, driven by a remarkable performance from Deneuve at the film's centre. Michael Blyth

Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project by Charles B. Brack

Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project

Directed by: Charles B Brack: Country: USA. Year: 2008. Running time: 58min.

Sakia Gunn was a fifteen-year-old black lesbian who was stabbed to death in a gay hate crime in New Jersey in 2003. Dreams Deferred questions the lack of national media coverage after Gunn's murder and explores the racism and homophobia that has caused this silence. Brack's documentary combines courtroom footage of Gunn's family and friends as they confront her murderer, with interviews that paint a picture of the victim and discuss the problems that Aggressives (homosexual women of colour who dress in masculine attire) face. It is particularly moving to see the activism Gunn's death has inspired within the Black LGBT community in the USA. Nazmia Jamal

Japan Japan by Lior Shamriz

Japan Japan

Directed by: Lior Shamriz. Cast: Imri Kahn, Tal Meiri, Irit Gidron: Country: Israel. Year: 2007. Running time: 65min.

A strange and provocative debut feature from a young Israeli. The film is set mostly in Tel Aviv and features Imri, newly arrived in the city, a despondent young man who is obsessed with visiting Japan. His fantasies of Japanese life include some porn imagery and the film weaves in and out of film-making styles. Although we return to the mundane experiences of his life in the city, there are moments from a video artist in New York, encounters with men, his quirky flatmate, a musical number and one never knows what's going to happen next. The dialogue is mainly improvised which accounts for some of the strangeness but it's done with a bold cinematic intelligence and offers both a fascinating perspective on a slacker's life and an oblique political commentary. It finishes by quoting a Cavafy poem including the lines, “As you have ruined your life here… you have destroyed it in the whole world.” Brian Robinson

Fucking Different Tel Aviv

Fucking Different Tel Aviv

Directed by: Elad Zakai, Eran Kublik Kedar, Ricardo Rojstaczer, Eyal Bromberg, Sivan Levi, Hagai Ayad, Nir Ne'eman, Yossi Brauman, Avital Barak, November Wanderin, Galit Florenz, Yasmin Max, Hila Ben Baruch, Stephanie Abramovich, Anat Salomon, Yair Hochner: Country: Israel-Germany. Year: 2008. Running time: 95min.

Following on from Berlin and New York, the 'Fucking Different' project continues with this latest edition from Israel, which offers the most diverse, exciting and impressive addition to the series yet. Fifteen filmmakers from Tel Aviv were each approached to make a short film, with one criteria in mind - that the gay men must produce a film about lesbians and vice-versa. The shorts that emerged are wildly inventive, flitting between various styles and genres, and guaranteed to include something to please everyone. Viewed as a whole, it is an inspirational piece of work, and a true testament to the wealth of queer filmmaking talent evident in Israel. Michael Blyth

April 2

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Sunday, April 5, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Out Late by Beatrice Alda, Jennifer Brooke

Out Late

Directed by: Beatrice Alda, Jennifer Brooke: Country: USA. Year: 2008. Running time: 62min.

A truly inspiring and important film about the experiences of LGBT elders, specifically those who have come out in their sixties and seventies. There are stories about coming out in church, discovering The L Word for the first time at eighty and transitioning from male to female after a lifetime in the navy and raising a family. The film movingly explores the difficulties and liberation of discovering sexuality later in life and in particular highlights the often unsuccessful search for life partners in a world that places so much value on youth. Nazmia Jamal

Lola Duenas in Chef's Special

Chef's Special

Directed by: Nacho G. Velilla. Cast: Javier Cámara, Lola Dueñas, Benjamín Vicuña.

Distributor: TLA Releasing: Country: Spain. Year: 2008. Running time: 111min.

Maxi is a chef with stress management issues. Intent on earning his restaurant a much-revered Michelin star, he runs his kitchen with panic-stricken fervor. That is until one day Maxi's regimented world is turned upside down when he has to take in his estranged kids. Less than pleased with these new additions to his life (as is his teenage son who is unable to deal with his father's homosexuality), Maxi's situation only gets worse when a handsome footballer named Horacio moves in across the hall. Velilla's delicious Spanish farce is overflowing with wit and vivacity. As the highly-strung Maxi, Javier Cámara gives a masterfiul comic performance, supported confidently by the rest of the cast, particularly Lola Dueñas (seen in Almodóvar's Volver) as Maxi's emotionally unstable friend Alex. Already a huge box office smash in Spain, Chef's Special looks set to delight audiences here. Michael Blyth

Devotee by Remi Lange

Devotee

Directed by: Rémi Lange. Cast: Hervé Chenais, Guillaume Quashie-Vauclin: Country: France. Year: 2008. Running time: 50min.

How do you negotiate the dating minefield when you have a non-conventional body? Hervé is a 43-year-old man born without arms or legs, whose body marks him as an outsider to the men he desires. He meets an attractive man online who is a devotee (devoteeism or acrotomophilia) - sexually attracted to people with amputations. It could be the perfect match but is the true connection Hervé seeks possible with a person whom he knows only sees him as a fetish? Quiet, and reflective, Devotee is both an intimate exploration of desire and of disabled sexuality which challenges us to consider our own voyeuristic treatment of Hervé's body. Jason Barker

Ander by Roberto Caston

Ander

Directed by: Roberto Castón. Cast: Josean Bengoetxea, Cristian Esquivel, Mamen Rivera: Country: Spain. Year: 2008. Running time: 128min.

Aging Basque countryman Ander leads a monotonous life divided between his work at the local bicycle factory and his daily routine around the farmhouse he shares with his elderly mother and his newly engaged sister. When Ander accidentally breaks his leg, the siblings defy their mother's wishes and hire a Peruvian immigrant named José to help them maintain the farm. The presence of this soft-spoken outsider has an unsettling effect on Ander's traditional family and circle of lifelong friends. No one, however, is as disturbed as Ander who virulently resists his growing attraction for José, his trusted employee and friend. Set against the expansive Basque countryside and featuring a stellar cast of regional actors, Roberto Castón's character-driven debut film is a heartbreakingly human portrayal of contemporary rural gay life. Its unadorned yet forceful storytelling style makes it a standout European drama at this year's LLGFF. Kyle Stephan

Jack Wrangler in Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon

Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon

Directed by: Jeffrey Schwarz: Country: USA. Year: 2008. Running time: 85min.

In the late 1970s, Jack Stillman changed his name to Jack Wrangler, effortlessly transforming himself from a shy young man with aspirations of stardom, into the most infamous gay porn star of his generation. However, after successfully establishing himself in the world of gay adult film, he shocked the industry by making an unexpected leap into straight porn. Consistently challenging expectations, Wrangler then met and married 55-year-old singer Margaret Whiting, a woman more than 20 years his senior. Combining raunchy archive clips of Wrangler's films, with candid interview footage from both the big man himself and those around him, Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon is a revealing and hugely enjoyable insight into one of the definitive icons in gay porn history. Michael Blyth

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Monday, April 6, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

Lot's Wife by Harjant Gill, Koray Durak

"Home"

An international selection of films exploring the idea of home.

Lot's Wife
Turkey 2008. Dir Harjant Gill, Koray Durak. 9min.
A reworking of the biblical story of Lot's wife, set in the outskirts of Istanbul, where three uncles intend to break up a happy home.

Boxed In
USA 2007. Dir Joy E. Reed. 10min.
A comedy demonstrating the importance of clearing out your closet when you move home.

The Turkey
France 2008. Dir Anna Margarita Albelo. 10min.
A wife and mother runs off with her battery operated birthday present.

Two Spirits
USA 2007. Dir Ruth Fertig. 22min.
Queer Native Americans fight to reclaim the place of honour they once held.

The Occult in my Mother's Home
UK 2008. Dir Patrick Staff. 8min.
Behind closed doors, a lonely teen seeks answers from the universe.

James
Northern Ireland 2008. Dir Connor Clements. 17min.
The answers James seeks will never be found at home. Will he find them at school?

Dream Boy by James Bolton

Dream Boy

Directed by: James Bolton. Cast: Stephan Bender, Maximillian Roeg, Diana Scarwid.

Distributor: Peccadillo Pictures: Country: USA. Year: 2008. Running time: 90min.

In the isolated surroundings of rural Louisiana, Nathan is the new kid in town. Shy and introspective, Nathan keeps to himself, but it is not long before he notices Roy, the boy next door. Offering to help Roy with his homework, Nathan becomes increasingly fascinated with his confident neighbour, and the two soon begin a tentative love affair. Based on the novel by Jim Grimsley, what begins as a seemingly traditional story of young gay love, takes some surprising turns along the way, ultimately ending up a far darker and more rewarding prospect that one might first imagine. Director James Bolton sensitively handles the material, and invokes a fine air of mystery during the film's intriguingly abstract conclusion. Commendable too are the young male leads, Bender and Roeg, who expertly capture a time of adolescent discovery and uncertainty. Michael Blyth

Society by Vincent Moloi

Society

Directed by: Vincent Moloi. Cast: Zandile Msutwana, Sibulele Gcilitshana, Lele Ledwaba: Country: South Africa. Year: 2007. Running time: 90min.

Sprinkled with humor and pathos, Society is an ensemble drama about four black women who live, love, and work in contemporary Johannesburg: Akua, a successful businesswoman preoccupied with boy toys; Inno, a melodramatic weathergirl pining for celebrity; Lois, a pregnant doctor with a drinking problem; and Beth, a closeted schoolteacher living with her sexy butch girlfriend. Girlhood friends from school, they are reluctantly reunited by the death of a friend. Although each woman pretends her life is fabulous, hidden truths emerge to force the women to confront their lives. A lighthearted urban chick flick à la Sex in the City, Society is a testament to the uplifting power of friendships and the importance of being true to oneself. Written and produced by female duo Lodi Matstela and Makgano Mambola, it is an edited version of the eponymous mini-series that captivated audiences with the first lesbian relationship on South African television. Kyle Stephan

Voodoo Woman by Carolina Valencia

Voodoo Woman

Directed by: Carolina Valencia: Country: Canada. Year: 2008. Running time: 50min.

A filmmaker is shooting a ritual for his documentary on the Afro-Caribbean religious tradition of Santería in Cuba when suddenly the priest gets a message from the Gods for him. They say he has a female soul. The documentary then becomes the story of the director's transition from male to female, and her embracing of the spirituality and mysticism of Santeria. Told with honesty, curiousity and dry humour, this is an utterly compelling exploration of identity and faith which recognises that gender transition is often messy and awkward. Despite swapping direction part way through and seeming to follow many paths, the journey Voodoo Woman takes us on is a simple one - the director's personal quest to be true to herself. Jason Barker

April 7

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009

Wednesday, April 8, highlights

Schedule and synopses from the LLGFF website

In Twilight's Shadow by T. M. Scorzafava

"Mortal Desires"

Vampires, hoodlums, a hot detective and a few high class call girls make up this programme of sexy lesbian shorts.

In Twilight's Shadow (above)
USA 2008. Dir T.M. Scorzafava. 12min.
Carlisle's girlfriend is being held hostage and she'll do all it takes to get her girl back before sunrise.

Crazy Baby
USA 2008. Dir Jules Nurrish. 3min.
An unhinged patient, a sexy nurse and a very large needle..

Liminal
USA 2008. Dir Stephen Keep Mills. 14min.
A powerplay between lovers escalates with devastating results.

At Home (or Love as well)
Spain 2008. Dir Mariel Macia. 25min.
Rosa's first time has to be perfect.

What I found in Great Aunt Nell's Closet
USA 2008. Dir Melissa Bouwman. 2min.
An unsuspecting voyeur finds more than she bargained for.

As Seen Through a Telescope: Parts 1 & 2
UK 2009. Dir Bev Zalcock, Sara Chambers. 7min.
Saucy Edwardian seaside antics with a lesbian twist.

Tremble & Spark
USA 2008. Dir K.A. Burkhardt. 23min.
Sexy noir-inspired tale of murder, intrigue and a beautiful dominatrix.

To Faro by Nana Neul

To Faro

Directed by: Nana Neul. Cast: Anjorka Strechel, Lucie Hollmann, Manuel Cortez: Country: Germany. Year: 2008. Running time: 93min.

Enjoyable drama about a young factory worker, Mel, who takes on the persona of a Portuguese man, Miguel, when she is mistaken for a boy by the beautiful Jenny. In order to avoid her family's suspicions and to continue seeing Jenny, Mel crafts a careful web of deception as she produces a fake boyfriend (her colleague from Faro) at a family dinner and becomes enthusiastically lost in both her lies, learning Portuguese and constructing a whole new history for herself. Trouble, of course, follows when it turns out that not only has Jenny already got a boyfriend but that she is much younger than she claims. Mel's journey from quiet tomboy in a family of men to the beginnings of an understanding of her sexuality and gender identity is dealt with in an understated and sweet way, making this an endearing account of a rather problematic relationship. Nazmia Jamal

Lambert Wilson, Pascal Elbe in Baby Love

Baby Love

Directed by: Vincent Garenq. Cast: Lambert Wilson, Pilar López de Ayala, Pascal Elbé: Country: France. Year: 2008. Running time: 98min.

A well-off established Parisian gay couple, a lawyer and a doctor living in trendy Belleville, split up when the doctor (Lambert Wilson) decides he wants to raise a child. But making the decision is only the beginning of a comedy of errors which takes our hero (a paediatrician) on a surprising journey. Gay adoption is illegal in France so he is forced to consider surrogacy but finds it impossible to find a potential mother or lesbian couple who share his lefty bourgeois world view. When he meets a young Argentinean woman by crashing into her car it seems he has found his perfect match. Nothing is simple, but this delicious and affecting film gives a brilliantly entertaining insight into the emotional highs and lows of gay parenting and its pitfalls. The sometimes comic tone is wonderfully balanced by the deadly serious intent with which the fathering instinct inspires our hapless hero. Lambert Wilson heads a talented cast who attack their roles with gusto. And just when it seems that everything is going your way, nature and human frailities have a way of throwing you into confusion. This modern comedy shows how everyone can be overwhelmed in different ways by the profound experience of trying to have a baby. Behind the comic façade we learn about just what it means to be a lover, a friend or a family. Brian Robinson

Half-Life by Jennifer Phang

Half-Life

Directed by: Jennifer Phang. Cast: Sanoe Lake, Julia Nickson, Leonardo Nam: Country: USA. Year: 2008. Running time: 106min.

Set in a near-future Northern Californian suburb threatened by looming global catastrophe, the magically atmospheric Half-Life centres on the disillusioned and decaying Wu family. Abandoned by their father, eighteen-year-old Pam and her little brother Timothy live with their self-absorbed mother and her young meteorologist boyfriend. Working nights as an airport janitor, the depressed Pam crushes on her best friend Scott, a gay Korean adoptee who desperately wants his religious parents to acknowledge his sexuality. Sensitive and innocent Timothy withdraws into a supernatural world of monstrous jellyfish and space travel to escape his loneliness. A bold and ambitiously original outing for first-time director Jennifer Phang, Half-Life is a darkly humorous and deeply affecting dreamlike drama about the many ways people take flight from their lives. Gorgeous photography and elaborate handcrafted animations make it as visually stunning as it is emotionally raw. Kyle Stephan


         
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4 Comments to Jack Wrangler & 'Fucking Different Tel Aviv': London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Goes Places

  1. Pierrick

    Can I see Fucking Differnt Tel Aviv anywhere else?i'm from America and The only gay film festivals i know of are in california and florida :( and i'm from Texas.It looks like a good film.

  2. Bob Polinsky

    I am one of the co-chair's for the Tucson International Jewish Film Festival. I was wondering if you can help me. I would like to contact the distributors for two films you screened, Japan,Japan and Fucking Differnt Tel Aviv. Our festival has created a mini LGBT festival this year and we are looking for films for next year.
    Thanks for your help.

  3. Yves I.

    Catherine Deneuve is excellente in Apres Lui. I would say it is probably the best performance of her career.