The 2006 Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will be held from July 13 – 26 this year. Showcasing films from various countries around the world (last year the count was 26!), the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is the third biggest one of its kind in the US, and the biggest hands-down on the entire East Coast. Films from countries including Norway, Israel, Wales, Sweden, the Netherlands, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Great Britain, Canada, and many more were shown, so if you’re looking for a multicultural experience, this is it.
First created by the TLA Entertainment Group in 1995, the Festival is currently run by the Philadelphia Film Society. The Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is generously sponsored each year by dozens of area businesses, organizations and government agencies, the 2006 names of which will be announced on the Festival’s website (address at the bottom of this article) within the coming week. Approximately 200 of the best gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GBLT) films worldwide are slated to be shown, including shorts, features, and documentaries. This will be the Festival’s twelfth time around, and its 2nd with all four venues (Prince Music Theater’s [1412 Chestnut Street] Main Auditorium and Black Box; the Wilma Theater [265 South Broad St] and the Gershman Y [Broad and Pine Sts] located conveniently on Broad Street from Pine to Chestnut (aka the Avenue of the Arts).
The Festival always boasts a handful of world premieres, as well as a host of films dealing with forming and raising GLBT families, the celebration and expression of GLBT sexuality in the past and now (Out and About Magazine called the Festival America’s “sexiest gay and lesbian film festival”last year), and adaptations of gay and lesbian books, plays, and comic strips. Genres include Comedy, Drama, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, A Wild Ride (suggestive!), and Documentary, rated by letters denoting Strong Erotic Content (E), Films of Particular Transgender Interest (T), and Films of Particular Bisexual Interest (B). Last year, the festival showcased several documentaries about GLBT people in sports as well. If you think you or your straight friends will be bored by constant repetition of subject matter you can’t relate to, think again: many of the Festival’s films have all-star casts and multiple storylines designed to keep people of any sexuality hooked.
Nearly 100 filmmakers and other guests from countries around the world are invited to attend the Festival each year. A plethora of big names are always present. In the past, well-known individuals including Clive Barker, Mart Crowley, Barbara Hammer, Chi Chi LaRue, Cheryl Dunye, and John Waters have attended.
A special day is reserved for Festival Favorites screenings, as well as ceremonies appreciating those who have been influential in GLBT cinema with honors such as the Artistic Achievement Award and the Gay Icon Award. There’s even a completely new screenplay competition this year – the first ever PIGLFF 2006 Screenplay Competition, Turned Out – From Sheets to Screen. The winning screenplay will be selected by a panel of film industry professionals, and produced during the festival. It will be given a public screening before the Closing Night Film at the Prince Music Theater. Application rules and forms can be found at: http://www.phillyfests.com/templates/competition.cfm, but hurry – the deadline is Tuesday, June 20, at 5 PM EST.
In addition to its loads of cinema, the Festival is crammed with after-parties and other fun events, some planned ahead of time, and others spontaneously announced. At least two parties are scheduled for sure, though – the Festival traditionally kicks off with an Opening Night Party and ends (surprise!) with a Closing Night Extravaganza/Party. At the Festival’s Closing Night Ceremony, the winners from each competition category are announced. Those judged by official juries include Best Feature (Gay Male), Best Feature (Lesbian), Best Documentary, Best Short (Gay Male), Best Short (Lesbian), and Best Short (Documentary). There are also categories for Gay Male and Lesbian Best Features and Best Documentary, judged by audience members.
To give you a taste of what the Festival may have in store this year, here are some brief names and descriptions of some of the 2005 Festival’s most popular films. The winners last year included the short Who’s the Top (US, 2004, 23 min, Jennie Livingston),a hilarious musical about a lesbian bored with vanilla sex; Irene Williams: Queen of Lincoln Road (US, 2005, 23 min, Eric Smith), a short documentary about an eccentric Miami Beach resident with a singular sense of fashion and flair; Girl Play (US, 2004, 80 min, Lee Friedlander), a true-life satire about what happens when one woman finds true love with her fellow actress, but is already in a long-term committed relationship with another woman; We Are Dad (US, 2005, 71 min, Michel Horvat), a moving documentary about two gay men attempting to keep their family of five foster kids together (four of whom were HIV positive until one sero-reverts and is no longer officially positive, thus considered a desirable candidate for heterosexual couple adoption) despite the efforts of “the system” to tear them apart; Guys and Balls (Germany, 2004, 106 min, Sherry Horman), a fast-paced comedy about a gay goalie kicked off his school’s soccer team who challenges his old teammates to a grudge game against an entirely gay team he forms himself, and many more fresh and engaging films sure to at least catch your interest if not simultaneously make you misty-eyed, elicit gut-wrenching laughter, and change your views or better inform you about GLBT culture.
Ticket & Website Information
Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.phillyfests.com, by calling 267-765-9700 or at all Greater Philadelphia TLA Video stores. Festival-goers can also visit the Festival’s Website to subscribe to the daily e-mail newsletter, “Festival Newsletter.”
The Festival’s official site, which currently contains the 2005 Festival information but will be updated June 23, is accessible at: http://www.phillyfests.com/piglff/templates/home.cfm.