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Chicago Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 

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The 17th Chicago Lesbian & Gay international Film Festival runs from Friday, November 7, through Thursday, November 20, at the Music Box (through November 13) and Chestnut Station (November 14 through 20). Advance tickets can be purchased at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, between 10 am and 6 pm on weekdays, and between noon and 5 pm on Saturday; same-day tickets can be purchased at the venue box office starting a half hour before the first show of the day. Tickets are $7 except for opening night, which costs $25 (including a reception); a party following the 9:15 screening on Thursday, November 13, costs $15, which includes the film. Discount passes are also available. For more information call 773-384-5533 or the festival hot line at 312-409-5553.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7

Bent

Writer Martin Sherman's 1996 adaptation of his own play starts off provocatively: at a shadow-filled, decadent nightclub in 1930s Berlin Clive Owen picks up a soldier while Mick Jagger performs a gorgeous torch song. The next morning the gestapo raids the apartment Owen shares with Brian Webber, and the two run for their lives, leaving the soldier behind--but they remain in Germany too long and are sent to a concentration camp. En route Owen meets Lothaire Bluteau, and it's through their relationship--a representation of the systematic persecution of gays and others (Owen opts for a Star of David over a pink triangle, hoping it will gain him some leniency)--that the movie hopes to convey its weighty themes. Unfortunately the rest of the story is like a bad one-act. The subtext is so forcefully delivered that the text disappears--Owen and Bluteau's experiences and discussions are just obvious prompts to consider the nature of oppression and its effects. Directed by Sean Mathias. (LA) (7:00)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8

Heroines of Love

Short films from Australia, Germany, and Canada. (1:00)

Different From the Others

Said to be the first film dealing with homosexuality, this short, silent German feature by Richard Oswald, written in collaboration with sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, stars Conrad Veidt as an exposed homosexual who's victimized by blackmail. Jim Steakley of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will give an introduction. (3:00)

Green Plaid Shirt

Richard Natale's 1996 first feature charts the interrelations of five gay men between 1978 and 1988. (5:00)

It's in the Water

A satirical 1996 comedy set in the small town of Azalea Springs, Texas, about the scandal that breaks when a local charity organization decides to do volunteer work at a new AIDS hospice in town; it's the first feature of director Kelli Herd. (7:00)

Broadway Damage

Unremittingly coy yet engaging in a silly kind of way, this comedy about young NYU graduates negotiating love and careers in Manhattan is intended, according to director Victor Mignatti, as an antidote to cynicism. Best friends Marc, an actor, and Cynthia, an overweight, rich shopaholic, become roommates in a Greenwich Village dump that they transform overnight with an avant-garde decorating job worthy of a magazine spread. From this citadel Marc ogles the local men, searching for his "perfect ten," while Cynthia wallows in neuroses and schemes for the job of her dreams, assistant to Tina Brown. Marc's friend Robert, a nerdy songwriter who has the hots for Marc, is doomed to play the court jester in their lives. Mignatti's take on romance, primarily gay romance, is of the mush-for-brains variety, and his male characters while away the time in starry-eyed contemplation of the mostly inaccessible objects of their lust until false values fall away moments before a happy ending. In the press kit Mignatti, who spent five years directing television commercials, is quoted as saying, "I wanted to put a movie into the world that spoke to the romantic idealist in all of us." Somehow Broadway Damage speaks loudest to the teenage sap in all of us. (Barbara Scharres) (9:15)

Score

Radley Metzger, with his elegant low-budget sexploitation work (I, a Woman; Carmen Baby), was the continent's answer to Russ Meyer in the 60s. By the 70s, however, he was becoming increasingly irrelevant, adopting pseudonyms to cover his declining fortunes. He made this film in 1973, under his own moniker, and its day had passed too. Claire Wilbur and Calvin Culver play a young couple introduced to the joys of filmmaking by an older pair. (DK) A new 35-millimeter print will be shown. (11:30)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9

Out at Work

A 1996 U.S. documentary by Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson about three homosexuals who struggle to overcome job discrimination--a public library clerk in New York City, a Chrysler engineer in Detroit, and a former employee of Cracker Barrel. On the same program, Daniel Baer's 1996 Horse Dreams in BBQ Country. (1:00)

Sex in Chains

This 1928 silent German feature directed by William Dieterle, about a love triangle involving two prisoners and one of their wives, is reputed for its frank treatment of homosexual relationships behind bars. A restored 35-millimeter print will be shown. (2:45)

Stolen Moments

Margaret Wescott's 1977 Canadian feature explores lesbian life in the Western world, incorporating historical stories with contemporary material. Narrated by Kate Nelligan. (5:00)

Women Make Movies: New Lesbian Work

In Jodie: An Icon (1996) clips from several Jodie Foster movies are analyzed for their lesbian content by women who are academics, journalists, and fans, and this 24-minute movie by Pratibha Parmar addresses the question of why Foster's presumed to be gay as satisfyingly as it affirms that we don't know whether she is. Some of the interviews are casually recorded and unusually edited--footage that appears to be from different sessions is spliced together, smoothly catching the speaker in mid-sentence--and the poor-quality movie clips might have been recorded on a home VCR. The founder of a Jodie Foster Web site gives us a guided tour and confides that many people send messages there assuming that she's Foster--very much in the spirit of this fannish, yet realistic and insightful portrait of a persona that's careful to assert that it's not a portrait of a person. (LA) On the same program, Wavelengths, a 15-minute movie by Parmar about a character who experiments with cybersex; Two or Three Things but Nothing for Sure, a 12-minute movie by Tina DiFeliciantonio and Jane Wagner about writer Dorothy Allison; and Sabor a mi, a 20-minute fantasy-drama by Claudia Morgado Escanilla. (7:00)

The Escort

A 1996 French Canadian comedy directed by Denis Langlois; set in Montreal, it concerns a gay couple who run a restaurant and whose eight-year relationship is tested after they throw a party. (9:00)

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10

Dallas Doll

See Critic's Choice. (7:00)

Pousse Cafe

A British-American media mogul (Anthony Hamilton) and his estranged gay son (Dominic Hamilton-Little, Anthony Hamilton's real-life son), a struggling New York performance artist, are drawn together during a family crisis in this U.S. feature. Susan Winter directed and cowrote the script with the two lead actors; Winter and Hamilton-Little will attend the screening. (9:15)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11

The Silver Screen/Color Me Lavender

Mark Rappaport continues his analysis of old movie tropes with this guided tour through clips that either show feminized male characters or portray male interactions as having a sexual subtext or both. Dan Butler, an openly gay actor--this isn't stated in the movie, but it's neither obscured nor denied--appears, with the help of Rappaport's signature imaging techniques, to occupy the same space as freeze-framed actors from the past, while he suggests possible meanings for the self-emasculation of characters played by Bob Hope, the strange devotion of a sidekick type (codified by Walter Brennan) to a younger, more attractive man, and other phenomena that may evoke thinly veiled homosexual content. Old-movie dialogue that's supposed to be replete with double entendres is sometimes taken out of context so abruptly that Rappaport risks making the interpretations seem dubious. Yet because Butler repeatedly questions the idea of basing conclusions about a culture's attitude toward homosexuality on the Hollywood archive, many of the snippets seem to bear out even the most far-fetched points. This is much more honest and thought-provoking work than Rappaport's previous dissertation-style documentary, From the Journals of Jean Seberg, because this time he seems completely aware of possible flaws in his reasoning and entirely comfortable with appearing to have a personal stake in the subject matter. (LA) (7:00)

Chocolate Babies

A 1996 American independent feature by Stephen Winter about a group of black men "dedicated to queer terrorism" in order to draw attention to racist policies against blacks who are HIV positive. (9:15)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12

A Bit of Scarlet

A British documentary by Andrea Weiss (Before Stonewall, Paris Was a Woman) about the images of homosexuals and lesbians in the British cinema. Narrated by Ian McKellen. (7:00)

International Gay Shorts

Works from the U.S., France, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Belgium. (9:15)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13

Lilies

A prisoner persuades a bishop he's known since he was a boy to hear his confession, making the bishop a captive audience for a play, enacted by the other inmates, that dramatizes the prisoner's past. Forty years earlier, in 1912, he was one of three young gay men looking for love or trying to get out of a village in Quebec, where repression lead to tragedy. Fluid, inventive transitions occur between the staged drama and the remembered events it chronicles--events played out by the same all-male cast, some of whom portray women--and the mannered manipulation of time, place, and gender creates a layered and deeply emotional narrative. Directed by John Greyson and written by Michel Marc Bouchard, adapting his own play. (LA) (7:00)

The Watermelon Woman

Cheryl Dunye's first feature (1996) is a lighthearted and for the most part lightweight pseudodocumentary about an aspiring lesbian filmmaker (Dunye) attempting to research the life of an early Hollywood black actress known as the Watermelon Woman. The film's laid-back charm and the delicacy of the sex scenes make the controversy the film raised in the U.S. Senate all the more grotesque. With Guinevere Turner (Go Fish), Valarie Walker, and a funny bit by Camille Paglia about the positive aspects of watermelon imagery in relation to both blacks and Italians. (JR) Dunye will attend the screening. (9:15)

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