Though, more often than not, I don't much care for specifically GLBT film festivals, there are a small number of them around the world that do consistently program great stuff and not just the latest installment of the Eating Out series. Along with Turin International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, the Queer Lisboa Film Festival, Lisbon's oldest film festival, is certainly one of the best of its kind. They began their 16th edition on 21 September, with Andrew Haigh's excellent Weekend (just released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US by Criterion) kicking off the festival, which runs until the 29th.
One of the highlights of the program this year is a section dedicated to Peter de Rome, a French-born queer filmmaker who directed a number of short and feature length erotic films in the United States from the 1960s until the mid-1980s. The BFI recently restored a number of his works for a DVD release earlier this year of The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome. QL16 will be showing his shorts Double Exposure, The Fire Island Kids, Prometheus, Scopo, and Underground along with the documentary Fragments: The Incomplete Films of Peter de Rome by Ethan Reid. You can find all of the films on the BFI disc.
You'll also find a pair of films from both Travis Mathews and filmmaking duo Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold at the festival. Mathews' excellent feature I Want Your Love, an extension of the short of the same name he directed in 2010, is screening in competition, and though Mathews is a personal friend of mine, I don't have any qualms in mentioning that it's one of the best films I've seen all year. His other film, In Their Room: Berlin, the second installment of his documentary series following queer boys discussing intimacy and sexuality in their bedrooms, will play as part of the Queer Art section. Barr and Arnold's 2011 feature American Translation will also screen in competition. The film stars Pierre Perrier and Lizzie Brocheré, who were both previously in the duo's 2006 film Chacun sa nuit (One to Another), play a pair of Bonnie and Clyde-esque lovers who like to seduce gay hustlers. Their other offering at the festival is this year's sexually-explicit comedy Chroniques sexuelles d'une famille d'aujourd'hui (Sexual Chronicles of a French Family), which was released in a tamed down edit by IFC Films in the US earlier this year.
The feature film competition also includes Ira Sachs' somber Keep the Lights On, winner of this year's Teddy at the Berlinale; Oliver Hermanus' Skoonheid (Beauty), South Africa's submission for best foreign language film at this year's Oscars and winner of the Queer Palm at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival; Lisa Aschan's Apflickorna (She-Monkeys), which made the festival rounds last year winning major prizes at both the Göteborg and Tribeca Film Festivals; Aurora Guerrero's Mosquita y Mari, which played in the national competition at Sundance in January; the feature film debut of acclaimed short filmmaker Bavo Defurne, Nordzee Texas (North Sea, Texas); Mark Jackson's Without, which also made the festival rounds last fall, which I've also heard is quite good; Odilon Rocha's Brazilian drama, A Novela das 8 (Prime Time Soap); and Zoltan Paul's Frauensee (Woman's Lake), which I didn't get a chance to catch at Frameline this past summer.
Some other notable films playing around the festival: the latest film from director Vincent Dieutre, entitled Jaurès, which premiered at Forum at this year's Berlinale; a trio of shorts from Portuguese/British director António Da Silva, Bankers, Pix, and the wonderful Julian; Gabriel Abrantes and Alexandre Melo's short Fratelli, an experimental, loose adaptation of Taming of the Shrew, co-starring Carloto Cotta (Odete) and Alexander David (To Die Like a Man); Matthew Mishory's Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean; the great Rosa von Praunheim's latest documentary, König des Comics (King of Comics); Matthew Akers' doc Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present; a short directed by João Pedro Rodrigues' long-time collaborator João Rui Guerra da Mata, O Que Arde Cura (As the Flames Rose), which stars Rodrigues; An Afternoon Siesta and Summer Romance, a pair of dirty Greek films from director Panajotis Evangelidis (The Life and Death of Celso Junior); and the omnibus film Fucking Different: XXX, which includes shorts by Bruce LaBruce, Maria Beatty, Todd Verow, and Émilie Jouvet.
Like every year, QL has a program or two spotlighting some of the best queer music videos, or to be more accurate, a bunch of music videos the gays love. This year, there's a program directed entirely to the music videos of ABBA, nearly all of them directed by Lasse Hallström, who also directed ABBA: The Movie before moving on to Hollywood junk like The Cider House Rules and Chocolat. Other featured videos include the latest from Kylie Minogue, Sigur Rós, The Magnetic Fields, Spiritualized, Pet Shop Boys, Rufus Wainwright, and, yes, Madonna.
And finally, you can head on over to the site I used to work for, where there are a number of films available streaming for free, including one of João Pedro Rodrigues' first shorts, Parabéns! (Happy Birthday!). Trevor Anderson's The Man That Got Away, Mauricio López Fernández's La santa (The Blessed), Juanma Carrillo's Andamio (Scaffolding), and Daniel Ribeiro's Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho (I Don't Want to Go Back Alone), among others. I imagine not all of the films are available in every region. Additionally, you can pay to watch the featureVenus in the Garden, directed by Telémachos Alexiou, which is playing in the Queer Art section. It looks as though Venus in the Garden is streaming for free now.