By Sharon Gittleman
Seen your share of elves and trolls this season? The Triangle Foundation’s Reelpride LGBT film festival has some fantasy films of an entirely different nature for movie-lovers.
Event organizers hope, “Mango Kiss,” described as a “sultry” story about the “kinky, gorgeous circle of friends” of two lesbians, might seduce more than a few people to the box office.
“It’s about two women who decide to open up their relationship,” said J. Michael Lippy, Triangle’s events coordinator. “It’s very hot and very sexy.”
“Mango Kiss” is just one of the 42 features, documentaries and shorts which will be screened at the Reelpride GLBT Film Festival, from January 16-23, at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak. According to Triangle, last year’s event drew 4,500 people to the theater.
“It’s the largest film festival of its genre in the state,” said Lippy.
Some special guest appearances are planned at the screenings. Organizers have invited actress Dianne Wiest to come to the premiere of her Merchant Ivory comedy, “Merci, Docteur Rey,” set to kick off the festival at 8 p.m. on January 16.
On January 17, “adult film” star, Sam Tyson, will attend the Midnight showing of the film, “Hooked,” a movie about gay men who use the Internet to arrange liaisons with new lovers.
“This film brings up issues of body image,” said Lippy. “He’ll talk about battling bulimia and other eating disorders.”
While there are plenty of love stories to choose from, romance wasn’t the only thing on festival organizers’ minds. Viewers can watch documentaries like, “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin,” at 9:30 p.m. on January 19, revealing the story of a gay man at the forefront of African-American’s battle for civil rights or “Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World,” at 5 p.m. on January 18, about the efforts of gay activists in Egypt, Pakistan, the Philippines and Namibia.
While many of the documentaries are hard-hitting looks at LGBT issues, one offers insight into the funnier aspects of gay and lesbian life. “Laughing Matters,” shown at 8 p.m. on January 23, the closing night of the festival, tells the stories of lesbian comedians Kate Clinton, Marga Gomez, Suzanne Westenhoefer and Karen Williams and their rise to fame and fortune. Viewers are invited to a reception for the film’s director and producer Andrea Meyerson at the Jim Fresard dealership on Main in Royal Oak, following the screening.
The 12-person movie selection committee had many factors in mind when they chose this year’s films for the annual festival, said committee member Alan Semonian.
“Several of the members had seen the movies at festivals around the country and reported on that,” said Semonian. “We got descriptions of the movies to see if they sounded interesting.”
In the past, LGBT movie festivals have often been tainted by films with poor production values, Semonian said.
“Their only appeal was there were gay people in the movie,” he said. “Based on what I have seen, there’s a better selection of movies out there.”
Race, age and gender were three other factors used when choosing films for the festival.
“We wanted to make sure there was diversity in the film selection – that we covered all the sub-communities – transgender, gay, lesbian, Asian-American and African-American,” he said. “I think people get validated by seeing themselves on film.”
Organizers hope more young people will come to the event.
“Last year, primarily, we had middle aged men and women,” said Lippy. “I think this year our films, especially the boy and girls shorts, are sexier and have a broader appeal.”
On January 17, the festival will offer two youth features and two shorts free to anyone 21 or younger, followed by a party at Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Ferndale, starting at 2:30 p.m.
“At 11 a.m., is “My Life on Ice” – a mockumentary about a teenage boy who is a figure skater,” said Lippy. “The second film at 1 p.m. is, “Jim in Bold.” That is a documentary that stemmed from the death of a Pennsylvania boy. He committed suicide rather than come out to his family. This sparked three men who didn’t know him to talk to youths across the country about what it’s like to come out at 14.”
Next week, BTL will review several of the films which will be screened during the festival including “Laughing Out Loud,” and “Transfixed,” a Belgian murder mystery featuring a transgendered investigator.
For advance tickets, call 877-787-4264 or visit the festival web page at http://www.reelpridemichigan.com.