Way out fest

Celebrating LGBT culture with selected shorts

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Now that the mindless, blockbuster-heavy days of summer have given way to fall, moviegoers are once again invited to contemplate the things that really matter in life: politics, interpersonal relationships and the awe-inspiring spectacle of dozens of young men flexing their toned, muscular torsos in unison.

All of these can be found in spades at the latest installment of the Reel Pride Film Festival, an eight-day compendium of queer-themed movies sponsored by Detroit’s nonprofit advocacy group, the Triangle Foundation. After three successful January runs at Royal Oak’s Main Art Theatre, the fest has moved to a more hospitable time — late October — to avoid the dreaded blizzard season.

“For us to have bad weather during the film festival, it could devastate our opening or closing night,” says Reel Pride executive producer, Stephanie Newman.

Climate isn’t the only concern: The timing of the festival now allows Reel Pride to more quickly scoop up some of the most-talked-about films on the festival circuit in this country and abroad. Now Detroiters don’t have to wait so long to see the lighthearted, screwball comedy The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, which premiered last spring at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival, and kicks off Reel Pride’s opening night gala on Friday, Oct. 21. The same goes for hot-button German drama Unveiled (Tuesday, Oct. 24), in which an Iranian lesbian passes as a man to avoid being sent back to the oppressive conditions in her homeland.

As for the glistening revue of toned abs, they’re featured in the predictable but heartwarming coming-of-age tale Summer Storm (Saturday, Oct. 22), in which a devoutly macho teen rowing team faces their most formidable opponents yet: a talented all-gay crew called “The Queerstrokes.” Needless to say, the straight boys who are the most perturbed with the flamboyant crew end up being the ones with the most repressed homoerotic desires. The theme of gay-straight alliances — or the lack thereof — continues with director Sathyan Ramesh’s Big Chill-like German comedy-drama Beautiful Women (Schöne Frauen) on Saturday, in which a group of diverse friends bond one fateful vacation weekend. And, once again, there’s the annual midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so come prepared with toast and TP.

The fest’s biggest coup comes on Thursday, Oct. 20, with the local premiere of the much-buzzed-about Transamerica. In it, Desperate Housewives Emmy-winner Felicity Huffman extends her range — and adds a certain unwanted appendage — in order to play Bree, a pre-op transsexual who has to come to terms with her estranged son before going under the knife.

Also screening that night is a pair of gender-reassignment documentaries, 100% Human and 100% Woman. The scheduling reflects the desire of Newman and her selection committee to tailor blocks of screenings to specific audiences: Saturday morning presents a program of shorts geared toward gay and lesbian youth, while Monday, Oct. 24, offers a cheeky collection of films aimed mainly at denizens of the leather-and-bear communities.

It’s not just a way of providing “something for everyone,” but also a clever way to expose the average moviegoer to some facets of the queer experience that he or she might be missing. “The general populace might have an opinion that the gay community is just your average gay man that you might see on television, or a butchy woman who’s a lesbian,” Newman says. “[These films] speak to how diverse our community really is.”

 

Oct. 21-28 at the Main Art Theater (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111). For a complete schedule, visit reelpridemichigan.com.

Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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