The Pittsburgh Gay and Lesbian Film Society (PLGFS) Reel Q Film Festival returns with eight days of short, documentary, and narrative films from around the world. This year, the event is proud to present a number of critically acclaimed and must-see works, including Mo’Nique‘s first big screen performance since her Oscar-winning role in Precious. Please see below for a complete schedule and details:
Directed by Patrik-Ian Polk (Punks), Blackbird tells the story of 17-year-old Randy Rousseau (newcomer Julian Walker), a devout high school choir boy struggling to come of age in the small religiously conservative Mississippi town he calls home. Randy juggles his role as star of the church choir with facing the everyday trials of life as a high school misfit- a misfit plagued by eerie visions and premonitions. Complicating matters, his little sister has gone missing and his parents have subsequently split up, leaving him to care for his heartbroken mother, Claire (Mo’Nique). When Claire discovers a shocking secret her son has been hiding, she blames him for the disappearance of his sister. Randy’s father, Lance (Isaiah Washington), who has been keeping a watchful eye on his broken family, steps in to give his son a hand as he struggles to make the difficult transition into manhood.
A Q&A with Polk and producer Keith Brown will follow the screening. An Opening Night Party at Bricolage will take place after the event.
Letter to Anita
Award-winning filmmaker Andrea Meyerson explores the painful legacy of singer Anita Bryant‘s infamous anti-gay campaign of the late 1970s. Narrated by Emmy-winning actress Meredith Baxter, her documentary tells the story of Ronni Sanlo, a married mother of two who came out as a lesbian and divorced her husband, losing custody of her children as a result—an injustice that propelled Ronni into a life of LGBT activism. The film traces Ronni’s moving story against the backdrop of the broader gay civil rights movement. With archival footage, interviews with Ronni and her son, and the first on-camera interview with Bryant’s son Robert Green, the film paints a riveting portrait of what anti-gay discrimination can do to families—and how its destructive power can ultimately backfire on itself.
The event also includes a screening of the short documentary In the Overlap, which focuses on two women in their twilight years who have made major accomplishments for civil rights and are now seeking to marry.
For Shirin, being part of a perfect Persian family isn’t easy. Acceptance eludes her from all sides: her family doesn’t know she’s bisexual, and her ex-girlfriend, Maxine, can’t understand why she doesn’t tell them. Even the six-year-old boys in her moviemaking class are too ADD to focus on her for more than a second. Following a family announcement of her brother’s betrothal to a parentally approved Iranian prize catch, Shirin embarks on a private rebellion involving a series of pansexual escapades, while trying to decipher what went wrong with Maxine.
Eat With Me
Feeling invisible in her bland marriage, Emma moves in with her son, Elliot, into his downtown LA loft. Elliot, a young chef, is facing foreclosure of his lackluster Chinese restaurant…and, he’s gay. Emma’s disapproval has made strangers of mother and son. But the two need each other now more than ever, as Emma explores life’s indulgences–with the encouragement of a saucy new friend–and Elliot confronts his fears of intimacy. Food speaks for them where words fail. This auspicious directorial debut from David Au offers a fresh take on life, love, and food in the heart of Los Angeles. This deliciously emotional and redemptive story is supported by an earnest cast led by Sharon Omi, Teddy Chen Culver, Nicole Sullivan (MADtv), and a surprise moment with George Takei.
An after party at 5801 Video Lounge will follow the screening.
A widow, recovering from the death of her husband, comes to the big city to spend time with her too busy professional daughter. Instead, she forges an unlikely relationship with a commitment phobic lesbian who has had a past with her daughter.
Something Must Break
A love story between two young men where one is the androgynous Sebastian and one is Andreas, who is not gay. They form a unity. It’ s them against the polished Swedish Ikea society. They dream about escaping boredom and the risk of becoming what everyone else is. And then there is Ellie- the superwoman growing inside of Sebastian who Andreas loves and fears. This is the summer when everything happens and both of them will choose paths that will determinate their lives forever. It’s a battle for love where Sebastian finally has to realise that he has to let Ellie loose, find the strength within himself and not let his happiness depend on someone else. Screened in Swedish with English subtitles.
A selection of female-centric shorts from around the world. Includes Anti-Aging Erna, Bachelorette, Bombshell, Dream Date, The Kiss, Neighbors, The Other Woman, and What’s Your Sign.
A mixed bag of films exploring the world of gay and bisexual men. Includes A Last Farewell, Barrio Boy, The Bash, Boygame, Cruising Electric, Das Phallometer, The Disgustings, Mum, Safe Word, and Trunk.
A program encompassing the LGBTQ experience. Includes August Sings Carmen, Beyond the Mirror’s Gaze, Black is Blue, Families are Forever, If We Took a Holiday, Lavender Hill, and Truth or Dare.
16-year-old Billie’s reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother reveals plans for gender transition and their time together becomes limited to Tuesday afternoons. Filmed over the course of a year, once a week, every week – only on Tuesdays – these unique filmmaking rules bring a rare authenticity to this emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility and transformation.
New girl Cassie and school outcast Maggie are easily the most unpopular girls at their high school. Together, they decide the way to win the hearts of cute boys and popular girls is to enter–and win–the annual Talent Show. But rivals Heather, Other Heather, and their popular boyfriends Dirk and Brett will stop at nothing to keep Cassie and Maggie the laughing stock of the school. It’s going to take courage, a make over, and maybe even a rap battle to beat them in true 80s style. Stars Cassandra Peterson (Elvira Mistress of the Dark) and stand-up comedian and actress Judy Tenuta.
An after party at THERE Ultra Lounge (931 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222) will follow the screening.
Out in the Night
Under the neon lights in a gay-friendly neighborhood of New York City, four young African-American lesbians are violently and sexually threatened by a man on the street. They defend themselves against him and are charged and convicted in the courts and in the media as a ‘Gang of Killer Lesbians’. Director blair dorosh-walther‘s documentary examines the 2006 case of The New Jersey 4 and reveals how their race, gender identity and sexuality became criminalized in the mainstream news media and criminal legal system.
In 1950s Zürich, The young shy teacher Ernst Ostertag becomes a member of the gay organization Der Kreis. There he gets to know the transvestite star Röbi Rapp and immediately falls head over heels in love with him. Röbi and Ernst live through the high point and the eventual decline of the organization, which, in the whole Europe, is seen as the symbol of gay emancipation. Ernst finds himself torn between his bourgeois existence and his commitment to homosexuality, for Röbi it is about his first serious love relationship. A relationship which will last a lifetime. From the present, the film looks back to the time when the Mother of all European homosexual organizations had its high point until it fell apart. While the repression against homosexuals became increasingly more intense in Zurich, two young and very different men fight for their love and – together with their friends – for gay rights. Screened in German and French with English subtitles.
20 Lies, 4 Parents and A Little Egg
The lives of Sjors and Bert are turned upside down when 15-year-old adolescent Dylan, who turns out to be Sjors’ son, suddenly turns up on their doorstep. Dylan was thrown out by his mother and her girlfriend. A film about spirited teenagers and immature parents and their shortcomings.
Kat and Samantha have been best friends for years. When Samantha convinces a reluctant Kat to take advantage of a couple’s weekend retreat by pretending to be lovers, they’re hoping for some time by the pool and maybe a few good stories. How hard could it be? Instead, they find themselves immersed in an intensive workshop with real couples who are fighting to save their relationships. As the “Closer to Closeness” weekend progresses, Kat and Samantha are made to face their own shortcomings and, by default, begin to believe their own cover story. When the lines of friendship begin to blur, they are faced with asking themselves: could it actually be there is something there or has this weekend just worked a Jedi mind trick on them?
The Way He Looks
Leonardo is a blind teenager dealing with an overprotective mother while trying to live a more independent life. To the disappointment of his best friend, Giovana, he plans to go on an exchange program abroad. When Gabriel, a new student in town, arrives at their classroom, new feelings blossom in Leonardo making him question his plans. Screened in Portuguese with English subtitles.
A Closing Night Party at the Toonseum will follow the screening.
All screenings will take place at the Harris Theater. Individual tickets are $6-9, $10-15 for opening and closing night events, and are available for purchase at the theater, at Banner Coin Exchange, or at Showclix. Tickets packages include the $125 Diva Pass (all films), the $70 Screen Queen pass (10 tickets), and the $45 Cheap Thrills pass (6 tickets), and are available for purchase at the Reel Q website.