Monday, 2 April 2012

LGFF 5: Inner longing

The 26th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival had its closing night gala last night with the beautiful Belgian drama North Sea Texas (above), a complex, introspective exploration of teenage yearnings. This year's festival has been an unusually strong one: the programmers really worked to find films with provocative themes, darkly intriguing stories and resonant subject matter. If there's any complaint it's perhaps that there weren't enough comedies (a comedy-themed shorts programme was a welcome relief). But then it's not like the festival is a downer: I doubt any film event on earth has as many parties as the LLGFF. There is at least one per night, often two or three, and it would be easy to get through the week with no sleep at all - although your liver might not survive. And this festive atmosphere makes it a favourite event for journalists (sadly this was the final year for supreme press officer Billy Wiz, who makes a difficult job look effortless) and audiences (almost every screening is a sell-out). Here are a few more weekend highlights...

North Sea Texas
dir Bavo Defurne; with Jelle Florizoone, Mathias Vergels 11/Bel *****
This gentle coming-of-age film is gorgeously shot and acted, sharply capturing those first feelings of love and loss. It's a powerful exploration of teen yearning, made even more remarkably by its sensitive approach to the characters' sexuality... FULL REVIEW >

This Is What Love in Action Looks Like
dir Morgan Jon Fox; with Zach Stark, Peterson Toscano 11/US ****
This even-handed documentary explores the issue of ex-gay therapy by letting everyone have their say. It's a fast-paced, well-assembled film, although some righteous anger wouldn't have gone amiss... FULL REVIEW >

American Translation
dir Pascal Arnold, Jean-Marc Barr; with Pierre Perrier[E!], Lizzie Brochere 11/Fr ***
Dark and involving, this extremely well-made French drama draws us in through its strong characters and intensely creepy story. Although it's not very clear what the filmmakers are trying to say... FULL REVIEW >

Leave It on the Floor
dir Sheldon Larry; with Ephraim Sykes, Andre Myers 11/US ***
This attitude-fuelled musical is a celebration of youthful expressions of gender and sexuality that fall outside the mainstream. What the film lacks in subtlety and finesse it makes up with sparky characters and meaty songs... FULL REVIEW >

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CRITICAL WEEK - And while the festival was underway, regular press screenings continued in London as well. In brief, we saw two very different action blockbusters (the angry Greek gods sequel Wrath of the Titans and Jason Statham's latest shoot-em-up mayhem Safe), the British ethnic comedy-drama All in Good Time, the French musical drama Beloved, Kaurismaki's mystery-style drama Le Havre, and the biggest of them all, 1997's timeless classic blockbuster Titanic, now in 3D. This coming week is a bit quieter with Easter weekend, but we'll finally be watching Henry Cavill action in The Cold Light of Day, Zach Efron drama in The Lucky One, Samuel L Jackson action in Fury, and something called The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best.

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