Movie Magazine International

22nd San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival - I

Special Report By Andrea Chase

The 22nd Lesbian and Gay Film International festival has expanded its run to a full, emotion-packed eleven days.

The opening night film, get your tickets now, is Lisa Cholodenko's "High Art," the one that's been grabbing headlines at Sundance and Cannes. Ally Sheedy sheds her brat pack image once and for all as a troubled photographer caught between fresh-faced, latent lesbian Rhada Mitchell as the girl next door, and drugged out girlfriend Patricia Clarkson, brilliant in a role that should be getting her more buzz than it has.

"Party Monster" by Fenton Baily and Randy Barbato demonstrates why you can pretty much wrap it up for western civilization. Millennia from now, historians writing about how cultures decline into decadence and then collapse under the weight of their own decay will look to this documentary as a case in point of where we all went so wrong. It's an oddly matter-of-fact re-telling of how a so-called club kid, Michael Alig, gruesomely murdered one of his peers. Vanity, envy, and the dark, drug-fueled fantasy world of the New York club scene is the backdrop as people watch one another spin out of control and, rather than getting them help, sit back and enjoy the show.

Donna Deitch's "Angel on My Shoulder" is a tough film about the slow death by cancer of Deitch's friend, actress Gwen Welles. Welles insisted on being filmed, thinking that it would be the role of a lifetime. She was right. As the disease progresses, this fascinating, infuriating woman wastes away but, paradoxically, becomes more luminous until, at last, her eyes are ablaze with an almost frighteningly beautiful fire. As though the windows of her soul became the last refuge for that soul in a body turned living corpse.

"Dakan" has the distinction of being the first gay film out of West Africa. It deals with two men coming out in a culture that has no word for their relationship.

The closing night film will the "Relax, It's Just Sex." And would that that were true in this terrific comedy/drama about the highs and lows of being in love. An ensemble cast led by Meg Tilly, Cynda Williams, and Lori Petty will break your heart and then make it all better as each comes to terms with needing one another.

For more information about the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, call 415 703 8663.

© 1998 - Andrea Chase - Air Date: 6/3/98

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