Review: LGBT Film Festival favourites brighten up autumn arts scene

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Arts blogger Kevin M. Thomas reviews the best films to be found at this year’s California Independent Film Festival.

The autumn brings out the year’s best films. In an effort to get Academy Awards consideration, studios release the cream of the crop, hoping to capture Oscar gold.

But before award season truly kicks off, the San Francisco Bay Area is celebrating the best of film in two different and exciting festivals.

The California Independent Film Festival, celebrates its 18th year in the Bay Area and it truly has something for everybody.

The festival – from September 10-16 – also has very strong in LGBT content. Here are some of highlights:

‘Tab Hunter Confidential,’ a big hit at numerous U.S. film festivals, is a beautiful portrait of a true movie star. Hunter went to Hollywood like many other handsome blond boys – hoping to be a star. It all seemed easy for him – a sexy man with little acting experience but was truly able to rely on his good looks to help start his career. But drive, resilience and support from the studio helped Hunter form a career he can be proud of.

“Confidential” also shows how important the studio system was in the 1950s, shielding him from the gossip of being homosexual.This movie opens the festival at 6:30pm on Sept. 10 at the Easy Bay’s Rheem Theatre.

“My Brother’s Shoes” is a light-hearted romp, that is a perfect way to spend your Saturday afternoon. Think gay “Freaky Friday” in which two brother’s end up swapping bodies for a day. Kind of ill-timed when the straight brother has a big presentation at work and the gay brother is a contestant in a drag show hosted by San Francisco icon Donna Sachet.

Review: LGBT Film Festival favourites brighten up autumn arts scene

“Shoes” is predictable but still fun and stands out thanks to a really beautiful performance by co-star Blake Fiegert, who adds layers to what seems like your typical gay best friend character. The film screens at 3pm on Sept. 12 at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre.

“Elephant Song” seems very promising. Not really because it is an award winning psychological drama but it features phenom filmmaker Xavier Dolan.

Dolan is the under 30 year old actor/writer/director who has already won over 50 film awards including first place at Cannes. Quite a feat for someone who has only written and directed seven films (so far) and many of them have played at international LGBT film festivals. Definitely worth catching at 5pm on Sept. 12 at the Castro and 9pm at the Rheem.

Review: LGBT Film Festival favourites brighten up autumn arts scene

“BFFs” is about two straight friends that pose as lesbians so that they can enjoy a free weekend retreat. The weekend serves as an eye opener while the friends learn how to maintain a relationship. Film screens at 7pm Sept. 12 at the Castro Theatre.

“Daddy” is another high profile film that will likely be a highlight of this festival.

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Actor Gerald McCullouch, from TV’s “CSI” and the “Bear City” movies, has made this movie his “Citizen Kane,” being involved in every aspect of bringing this from a successful stage run to making his film directorial debut.

McCullouch also spear headed the crowd funding campaign to get this movie of an older man who falls for a younger man. Making its U.S. debut, “Daddy” screens at 9pm Sept. 12 at the Castro.

Learn more about these and other films at

If these weren’t enough films to keep you busy, Revolve – Oakland’s week long LGBT celebration – also features some noteworthy films.

In particular, Sept. 10 has a free double feature at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre. Both movies had very successful at film festivals last year.

“Appropriate Behavior” really is anything but. Ultra talented Desiree Akhavan wrote, directed and stars in this story of bi-sexual Shirin, who is trying to find her place in the world while balancing life of dating, independence and Persian culture. Funny and quirky, “Behavior” stays with you long after the movie is over.

“Blackbird” is a change of pace for writer/director Patrik-Ian Polk. His previous projects included “Noah’s Arc” and “The Skinny” – both of which featured metropolitan, sexy gay African American characters. This time around, Polk’s story might be returning him to his own roots as it deals with a young southern man who is struggling with his sexuality.

Review: LGBT Film Festival favourites brighten up autumn arts scene

These movies screen in with full evening of programming that starts at 5pm. Revolve, from Spectrum Queer Media, is actually a week long celebration of Oakland gay pride that includes film screenings, concerts, art exhibits and ends on September 12 with a parade.

Get all information at

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