One of the things I have been working on these past two months in assisting in putting together the local gay and lesbian film festival, otherwise known as Qfest which is now in its third year. Qfest picked up where the Saint Louis International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival left off when it ended in 1999. This year's program will feature eleven features (8 features, 3 docs) and four shorts, one of which, Heartland Transplant, was directed by my friend Cody Stokes and played at this year's Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. The festival runs from 28-31 March at the Landmark Tivoli Theatre.
While I haven't seen all of the films screening this year, I can safely recommend three of the ones I have watched. Leo's Room [El cuarto de Leo], the feature debut from Enrique Buchichio, is a compelling, often quite beautiful portrait of two former primary school classmates, who run into one another in their mid-twenties. Leo (Martín Rodríguez), dumped by his "beard," cruises online chat rooms for men; Caro (Cecilia Cósero) spends most of her day in bed, downing anti-depressants. While it doesn't break a whole lot of new ground, Leo's Room does have a number of rich, expressive moments that set it apart from your average coming-out/coming-of-age tale. Leo's Room is part of the 2010 Global Lens Collection.
Haim Tabakman's exceptional Eyes Wide Open, which premiered at Cannes last year in the Un Certain Regard section, follows a taboo love/lust affair between two Orthodox Jews (Zohar Shtrauss, Ran Danker) in Jerusalem. Ella Lemhagen's Patrik, Age 1.5 [Patrik 1,5] takes a farcical premise (a gay couple looking to adopt a baby get stuck with a fifteen-year-old homophobe due to a clerical error) and gives it dramatic weight, aided by two outstanding performances from Gustaf Skarsgård (Stellan's son, Eric from True Blood's brother) and Torkel Petersson (Old Men in New Cars) as the daddies-to-be. Tickets for all the films are now available; check the Cinema Saint Louis website for more information. Hopefully, if you're in the area, I'll see you there. I'll also be posting longer reviews of the three films mentioned above (and maybe a few of the others) closer to the festival date.