Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Queerguru’s pick of MUST SEE FILMS @ Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Fest

Palm Springs with its growing LGBTQ community is often called the Ptown of the West.  In fact, it shares many of the snowbirds who flit between the two coasts when the weather starts to change.  Both towns also have excellent film Festivals, although the Palm Springs Edition is totally LGBTQ.


Held at Cinema Diverse the 14-year-old Fest is a program of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing education, and to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts.  Their mission statement says “We believe LGBTQ films and LGBTQ film festivals are critical to our local community, and to the world community because they tell stories that remind us of where we came from, who we are, and who we can be. They tell stories that not only inform and transform those within our community but also have the power to change the lives and attitudes of people outside our community..

 From Thursday 16th September to Sunday 25th September the Festival is presenting a first-class program of some of the best new queer films from around the globe …. and like their name ….. are so diverse as they cover so many different parts of the LGBTQ+spectrum.

As usual QUEERGURU’S Team of Reviewers  have scoured the whole schedule in detail to produce our List,  This may not cover all the ‘best’ movies BUT it does include all the  MUST SEE FILMS in the FEST 


AIDS DIVA Filmmaker Dante Alencastre’s film rightly gives credit to one of the great heroes of the LGBTQ community that we all need to know about.  Connie Norman was a wonderful fierce transgender woman whose HIV status made her turn into a major driving force in the AIDS pandemic.  She was a powerful articulate advocate  that railed against complacency, hatred, and denial right up until  July of 1996  when she died at age 47 of complications of AIDS



Being Bebe : Newbie filmmaker EMILY BRANHAM took a shine to BeBe aka MARSHALL NGWA back in 2006 before the world came to know about him.  Then the tall good-looking man from Cameron in West Africa was living in Minneapolis  Minnesota and doing amateur drag in a local gay bar. Even then he stood out as his costumes and performances were heavily immersed and inspired by his African Culture. After Bebe was the first-ever winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race she had a roller coaster life of rags to riches and back again which she shares with disarming honesty that makes this doc so compelling and such a sheer joy to watch



Boy Meets  Boy : In this film by Daniel Sanchez Lopez two gay men meet each other on the dancefloor in Berlin after 24 hours of clubbing. At first, it’s the hazy intimacy of drugs that bring them together but soon, as they talk and chill, they fall into the comfort of compatibility.  The magic of the film creeps up on you unaware. It’s structure hides behind the ebb and flow of the two central characters’ dialogue. The easy-flowing conversation is the side effect of Hannah Renton and Lopez’s script never drawing attention to itself. Its visual appeal is from camerawork that disappears. The use of silence is the most powerful part of the sound design.



FIREBIRD is an enormously satisfying and complete film.  It tells a full tale of life, and love, and loss from its beginning right up to an end that could never need or want a sequel.  PEETER REBANE‘S story of two Soviet military recruits, a pilot officer and a private, falling in love on a military base during the 70s cold war, is based on a true story. Skeptical as we are about stories ‘based on’ truth, people’s ages and weights on dating profiles might make that same claim, there is an undeniably human element to this story that grips the heart and mind with a sense of both individuality and history



Gossamer Folds:is the tale of a very unlikely friendship. Queer filmmaker Lisa Donato’s first feature film is the story of ten-year-old Tate (Jackson Robert Scott) and his white middle-class family  had moved from the city in the hope his parents could save their shaky marriage. However, they hadn’t even unpacked when they realized it was a hopeless case as Billy (Shane West) his father was still cheating on his mother Frannie (Sprague Grayden).  Billy however was less keen on apologizing for his behavior but more focused on heaping anger on his wife. He blamed her for the fact that their new neighbors were an African American family that included a transgender woman.



JUMP DARLING : When you reach the end of the road you are on, what can you do? There are two answers, you stop or change direction. In CLORIS LEACHMAN’s final film made prior to her death, both these alternates are explored, and the poignancy is inescapable. Leachman plays Grams, the aging grandmother grown tired, frail, and distanced from the passions that engulfed her earlier years. Dreams of joining the ice capades are barely a memory. Facing a slow exit from her life, or the inertia of a retirement home, she grapples with what little sovereignty she has left. It is an exquisite swan song for one helluva wonderfully actress and person



MINYAN : Coming Out Gay and Jewish.Eric Steel’s film starts (and finishes) with a death.  Now that his Russian Immigrant Grandmother has died, his Grandfather (a beautifully nuanced performance by Ron Rifkin) can no longer afford to live  his apartment.  Finding a cheaper one in their beloved Brighton Beach is no mean feat, but they come across a Jewish Retirement Apartment Building where there is one vacant unit that is highly sought after. However the Synagogue is two men short of a minyan  (the quorum of ten men required for traditional Jewish public worship) so Grandfather volunteers himself and David, and is assigned the apartment.



POTATO DREAMS OF AMERICA queer filmmaker Wes Hurley’s excellent autobiographical tale of his journey from Russia as a young gay immigrant is the perfect choice for the opening night gala.  Maybe a tad patchy in parts but it’s a joyous wee film with some wonderful surprises like an adorable Jonathan Bennett as Jesus and an almost unrecognizable Lea Delaria giving a scene-stealing performance.



There’s a metaphysical connection among all the films of Marco Berger. His latest offering The Carnival plays out like a semi-documentary version of his previous works. There’s a bit of Taekwondo (2016) in it with semi-naked bodies of hunky men on generous display. Actor Gaston Re who starred in Berger’s previous films The Blonde One (2019) and Taekwondo has a significant role here too. As expected and to the much delight of his hardcore fans, the trademark Marco Berger feeling of impalpable sexual tension is written all over the film. The Carnival thrives on the idea of contrasts – homoerotic probability in a traditional setting. Marco tells a story of cultural pride as well as the pride of sexual choice and how they can share the same social space without compromising on either of its authenticity.



YES I AM : THE RIC WEILAND STORY. We all need heroes and role models. Especially in the LGBTQ community. Most of the ones we have are very colorful and loud. However, there are some like RIK WEILAND who are far from that. Yet this very quiet private man, who sadly took his own life in 2006, is probably the most important queer activist and philanthropist of his generation. Thanks to Aaron Bear’s new film we hope Weiland’s name and memory will be recognized for who he truly was.



For information on the entire schedule and how to book for in-person screenings 
and online screenings  http://cinemadiverse.org/.

For full reviews of these films and over 1250 over LGBTQ films check out http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com

Posted by queerguru  at  21:29


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