Our QFest Picks

As the LGBT film festival kicks off this week, we have the ultimate guide to some of the best flicks

As QFest turns 18 this week, we selected a few of our favorite picks during the much-anticipated LGBT film festival (it all kicks off July 12). The flicks we picked run the gamut between an adventure of two aging lesbians on the road to serious profiles of LGBT artists and leaders – and even a moody, homoerotic day dream about James Dean.

In addition to these films, G Philly is also sponsoring TRANS, a poignant documentary about transgender men and women, and Dr. Christine McGinn, the New Hope doctor who specializes in gender reassignment. Not only do we meet her patients, but we also follow one story to the Trans-Health Conference here in Philly for a life-changing awakening.

Check out a preview:

A Force of Nature

Kathy Najimy cozies up to a couple of P-Town bears in BearCity2 (all photos courtesy of QFest)

The documentary follows Ellen Ratner, the openly lesbian political correspondent for Fox News, as she speaks her mind about the state of affairs, TV’s boy’s club and what it means to be considered conservative or liberal in America today. We also get a glimpse of Ratner’s longtime partner – a decorated U.S. Air Force pilot named Cholene Espinoza (July 22, 4:30 p.m., Ritz East, Theatre 2).

BearCity 2: The Proposal
Our fine furry friends take a trip to Provincetown’s famous Bear Week with none other than Kathy Najimy as the guys navigate sex, drama and leather daddies on the way down the aisle. The film also features a few celebrity cameos from the likes of Varla Jean Merman, Kevin Smith and Frank DeCaro (July 22, 7:15 p.m., Ritz East, Theatre 1).


Olympia Dukakis butches it up in Cloudburst

Olympia Dukakis stars as Stella, a butch lesbian who’s been in a relationship with Dot for more than three decades. But when Dot’s family wants to move her into a nursing home, the two set out on the road – Thelma and Louise-style (July 13, 7:15 p.m. and July 15, 12:15 p.m., Ritz East, Theatre 1).

North Sea Texas
Set in a Belgian coastal town in the 1960s and 70s, the coming of age film explores the relationship between two boys – one shy and gay and the other – a dark and handsome free spirit who’s waiting for the right girl to come along. What promises to be a sincere period piece, also offers glimpses into innocence, fantasy and a truly dysfunctional family (July 14, 7:15 p.m., July 21, 2:30 p.m., Ritz East, Theatre 1).

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years (1984-1992)

A glimpse of lesbian poet Audre Lorde in Berlin

Before her untimely death from cancer 20 years ago, Audre Lorde set the poetry world on fire with her frank, forceful activism and experiences as a lesbian. Here, we glimpse the writer in Germany through home movies, interviews and manuscripts in a way we’ve never seen her before. “What I leave behind has a life of its own,” she once wrote – and it couldn’t be more true (July 18, 6 p.m., Ritz at the Bourse).

Facing Mirrors
Transgender life in Iran centers on the story of Adinah, a young pre-op transman who must face family and society as he journeys toward his true self. The movie – directed by first-timer Negar Azarbayjani – chronicles the struggle of the trans community in the Middle East, and tells a story about hope, fear and – finally – acceptance (July 21, 5 p.m., July 22, 2:30 p.m., Ritz at the Bourse).

I Stand Corrected
Meet Jennifer Leitham (formerly John), a King of Prussia native who rose in the ranks of the jazz world only to shock everyone when he announced his transition into womanhood. Today, she’s a musical force, having once played with the Mel Torme Orchestra and at Carnegie Hall and the famous Blue Note – finding new in-roads in the world of jazz and speaking out about trans rights and art (July 19, 7:15 p.m., July 20, 5 p.m., Ritz East, Theatre 1).

Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean
James Dean’s life has always been shaded with rumors – especially when it comes to his sexuality. This arty flick with stunning visuals imagines the actor’s gay side – complete with all the hustlers and Hollywood royalty one can expect – in a moody look at the young man as actor, 50s anti-hero and hunk in a dreamy black and white California (July 13, 5 p.m., July 16, 7:15 p.m., Ritz East, Theatre 1).

Keep the Lights On
AIDS lurks over this period piece about a gay male couple in New York City who are coming to terms with a nine-year journey into sex, drugs and turmoil in this raw, unapologetic film. Directed by Ira Sachs, it delves into the underbelly of gay life at a time when love and sex were a matter of life and death – but with a human touch thanks to eloquently drawn characters (July 21, 7 p.m., Ritz East, Theatre 1).

Nate & Margaret

A look back at the life of Vito Russo

This modern day Harold & Maude tells the quirky story of 19-year-old Nate and Margaret, a 52-year-old inspiring comedian and waitress, two people who find each other when they need it the most. As they embark on their adventures (thrifting, among one pastime) the two become great friends and figure out how to get what they really want from life (July 18, 7 p.m., July 19, 5 p.m.).

He’s the man behind The Celluloid Closet, the book and documentary that changed the way we looked at Hollywood. This documentary tells the story of Vito Russo during his days with ACT UP and as a writer and advocate who worked tirelessly to tell honest stories about gay life on the screen and off before he died from AIDS complications in 1990 at the age of 44. Look for interviews with friends and well-known figures, including Philly’s own Tommi Avicolli Mecca (July 15, 9:15 p.m., July 17, 7:15 p.m.).

Click here for a full list of QFest films. We’ll also be bringing you exclusive interviews, reviews and coverage throughout the film festival.