by Michael Sarko
– The Capitol Hill Times –
With Prop 74, Washington’s most important piece of LGBT rights legislation, on the ballot in just a few weeks, Three Dollar Bill Cinema is kicking off the 17th Annual Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on Oct. 11. The series of features, shorts, and special events celebrates the creativity of the queer community through independent film spanning multiple countries, genres, and themes. Here are some of the highlights in this year’s festival.
Opening night at Cinerama brings the writing debut of Chris Colfer, “Struck By Lightning,” directed by Brian Dannelly. In some ways familiar territory and in other ways a major departure for the “Glee” star, the film takes a darkly comic look at one dangerously cynical teen’s revenge fantasies as he struggles through high school a consummate outsider. Colfer rose to stardom several years ago for playing Kurt, a closeted gay teen on the Fox musical comedy “Glee.” Through a multitude of tearful coming out scenes, bullying plots, and all-singing romances, Kurt became an icon for gay youth in the age of It Gets Better. The screening will be followed by the opening night party at The Social, with free shuttle service between Cinerama and the party.
The film selected for the first Centerpiece Gala of this year’s festival is “Call Me Kuchu,” Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s award-winning documentary about Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato. Kato was murdered in 2011 after leading the charge against oppressive laws that make homosexuality illegal in his home country. At one point, the parliament of Uganda attempted to punish gay men with execution for contracting HIV. The harrowing documentary has already taken home accolades at the Berlin Film Festival. Those who attend “Call Me Kuchu” can drown their tears at the gala at Lobby Bar following the Oct. 14 screening at the Egyptian.
The other Centerpiece Gala in the LGFF goes to “Cloudburst,” a romantic comedy directed by Thom Fitzgerald. It stars Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as a septuagenarian lesbian couple who go on the run to Canada when the latter’s granddaughter commits her to a conservative nursing home. Part unconventional love story, part road movie, “Cloudburst” has picked up 19 awards on the festival circuit so far. It plays on Oct. 19 at Pacific Place, followed by a reception at Il Fornaio Cafe and Bakery.
There will be smaller parties throughout the film festival at several local businesses. The first is Diesel’s pre-screening party for “Bearcity 2: The Proposal” on Oct. 12 with small bites and cocktails. Diesel will also offer drink discounts following the film. The last will be on Oct. 19 at Culture Club for an after-party following the screening “Waxie Moon and Fallen Jewel,” a comedy brimming with local drag and burlesque stars like Lily Verlaine, Miss Indigo Blue, El Vez, and Lou Henry Hoover. Check the SLGFF website for the full list of parties.
The closing night gala is at Pink Ultra Lounge on Oct. 21 after the Seattle premier of “Young & Wild,” the Chilean drama by Marialy Rivas about a bisexual teen blogger who gets expelled from school for her overactive libido and ends up working at a Christian TV station. The film took home a screenwriting award at Sundance this year for co-writers Rivas and real-life sex blogger Camila Gutierrez. It screens at Pacific Place.
Tickets and passes for the 17th Annual Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival are available online through Stranger Tickets. Those interested can purchase individual film passes as well as full series and party passes. Most screenings should also have tickets available at the door on the day of the show. Films will play at various venues around the city, including Cinerama, the Egyptian, the Northwest Film Forum, Pacific Place, and Central Cinema. There are plans for a mobile app with a full guide and maps to all of the events, but as of the writing of this article it has yet to be released.