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SF International LGBT Film Festival

The cure for saccharine summer fare

The 29th Annual LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual, and Transgender) Film Festival kicks off on June 16th with screenings of the French dysfunctional family sex comedy, Cote d'Azur and is followed by the provocative and dark, My Summer of Love at the Castro Theatre. These two films represent the breadth of the subject matter explored in the festival. From the frivolous and light hearted to the dark and disturbing, all of the films at LGBT offer an opportunity to explore issues of gender identity and sexuality in some interesting and frequently entertaining ways.

A few highlights:

Cote d'Azur - As alluded to above, this French sex comedy revolves around an oversexed family spending a seemingly idyllic summer in their French Riviera vacation home. Of course, all is not as idyllic as it initially appears. Cue sexual confusion, escapades, and ample auto-eroticism. This libido enhancing sex comedy consistently entertains. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Happy Endings - Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex) is back and in great form. His latest, Happy Endings, also deals with dysfunctional families and sexual identity issues in a darkly comical fashion. Roos follows several narrative threads that include: a woman being blackmailed over her adopted son, a sperm donor mystery, and an emotionally manipulative vamp weaving a web of deception among others. Roos manages to bring it all together splendidly and with no shortage of laughs. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

That Man: Peter Berlin - An erotic fixture in the Castro in the early 1970's, few people personify sex the way Peter Berlin did. Berlin crafted a Warhol-esque identity that transcended the big screen (in films such as Nights In Black Leather and That Boy). Literally, Berlin was ALWAYS on…and always turning others on. Jim Tushinski's documentary sheds light on one of San Francisco's most colorful and fascinating characters. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Girl Wrestler - Girl Wrestler follows the trials and travails of Tara, a strong 13-year old who has a passion for wrestling. Tara readily handles every girl she faces (although there aren't many) and holds her on against many of the boys she faces off against. Unfortunately, Tara is on the cusp of high school and Texas state law will soon prohibit her from both practicing and wrestling against boys. Director Diane Zander sensitively captures this inspiring story of Tara's challenges. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Lady is a Champ - In a vein not dissimilar from Girl Wrestler, Amit Azaz's The Lady is a Champ follows the battles of yet another inspiring woman, Orna Ostfeld, who is the Israeli women's basketball team coach. Frustrated by the lack of equitable funding (third rate men's soccer teams get more funding) for her world-class team, Orna courageously takes the matter to the Supreme Court despite ardent criticism and ostracism. The Lady is a Champ could not be a more appropriate title for this inspiring documentary. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Some other films worth a view include:

Tammy Faye: Death Defying - Really, can one ever get enough of Tammy Faye?

Transamerica - An estranged son and his father (now mother (?) due to gender reassignment) hit the road and rediscover familial bonds.

Blood, Sweat, and Glitter - A behind the scenes look at San Francisco's "Miss Trannyshack"competition. Follow the competition as Ana Conda, Cookie Dough, Syphilis Diller, and others jockey for the crown.

With virtually every genre represented, The 29th Annual LGBT Film Festival provides a plethora of opportunities to explore, question, and laugh at the multitude of challenges surrounding sexual identity.

For Festival Details: http://www.frameline.org/festival/29th/schedule/index.html