Written by Chuck Duncan
June is upon us and that means it must be Pride Month. We certainly have a lot to be proud of in Maryland this year, and this three-day Charm City LGBT Film Festival (plus a special kickoff event) at the Creative Alliance is the way to get things started.
On Thursday, June 6th, the festival begins with the Celluloid Closet LGBT Film Fest Gayla! The event will include live performances from Sabrina Chap, who brings her classical piano skills and Phyllis Diller antics to the stage. The Charm City Kitty Club Players will open the festival and more special guests will be announced. The event begins at 8 p.m. and admission is $15 ($10 for members).
Friday June 7th has two films scheduled. The first, at 7 p.m, is Cloudburst (Canada) starring Olympia Dukakis as Stella and Brenda Fricker as Dot, her love of 31 years. When Dot’s granddaughter finds a way to have her committed to a nursing home despite Stella’s protests, Stella hatches a plan to rescue Dot and make a run for the border – the Canadian border – so that they can be legally married.
The second film of the evening has already played Baltimore, twice, at the Maryland Film Festival but that’s no excuse not to see it again (or for the first time if you missed its premiere engagement). At 9 p.m., the festival will screen director Jeffrey Schwarz’s lovely tribute to a Baltimore icon, I Am Divine! The documentary covers the life of Harris Glenn Milstead from his childhood through is teen years when he was befriended by John Waters and became The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. The film covers Divine’s reign in San Francisco (with The Cockettes) and New York (while appearing on stage in The Neon Woman) through to his truly groundbreaking performance in Hairspray which finally got him the mainstream acceptance he’d always hoped for (Married… with Children had cast him in a role just before his untimely death). The film features many people from Divine’s life – Waters, Mink Stole, Susan Lowe, Pat Moran, Tab Hunter, Ricki Lake, Holly Woodlawn, Michael Musto and more – and includes clips from his films, nightclub performances and many personal photos provided by his mother, Frances Milstead, who was interviewed shortly before she passed away. Even Glenn’s high school sweetheart is interviewed! I Am Divine! is a lovely, funny, touching tribute to the man (and the woman) that truly does them and Baltimore proud. If you’re a fan, this is not to be missed.
Saturday, June 8th kicks off with a free screening of Difficult Love, a documentary that looks at the lives and loves of lesbians in contemporary South Africa, one of the most homophobic nations on earth (despite gay rights being enshrined in its constitution), which is preceded by Tsuyako, a narrative of love and honor set in post-war Japan.
Stud Life, from the UK, screens at 7 p.m. Hot butches and beautiful femmes introduce us to London’s “stud” club subculture. JJ, a lesbian, and Steb, a gay man, are devoted companions in the quest for true love. The friendship is tested when JJ meets the beautiful and alluring Elle.
At 9 p.m. is Love or Whatever, which tells the story of uptight therapist Corey, whose life unravels when his boyfriend leaves him for a woman. Corey meets Pete who is the perfect mate, but Corey screws things up and has to decide if he’s going to spend his days planning the perfect life or just living the perfect day. The feature is preceded by Shabbat Dinner – the dinner becomes more interesting when William meets Virgo and they leave the adults at the table – and Echo Bear, which shows that a fun Craig’s List hookup can get you into some delicious trouble.
The festival wraps up Sunday, June 9th with Trans at 5 p.m. The film recounts the incredible transformation of seven-year-old Danon, a loveable transgendered little girl. Family members and other individuals speak about their journey with her. Director Chris Arnold melds stories of the medical and emotional metamorphosis from chameleon to liberation.
The closing film at 7:30 p.m., Elliot Loves, chronicles the life of Elliot, a smart, cute Dominican kid as a transforms from boy to man. The story weaves the present with flashbacks as Elliot navigates the familiar themes of family loyalty, the quest for love, and the bittersweet heartbreak of coming of age, peppered with strong dialogue, great characters and a story that’s sincere and full of hope.
The 2nd Annual Charm City LGBT Film Festival’s weekend pass is $60 ($35 for Creative Alliance members). To get more information on the festival and to see trailers for the featured films, visit Creativealliance.org.