...and here's what you have to look forward to seeing (or not).
The Secret Disco Revolution
This film takes us back to the good old days of the 1970s, when a new dance craze called disco took over the world. This documentary, directed by Jamie Kastner, explores the rise of disco in the gay clubs of Manhattan (The Garage and The Paradise Factory in New York City) and then picked up by radio. Disco queens Thelma Houston, Gloria Gaynor and Martha Wash reminisce about their days of hitting the top of the charts and touring and the influence disco had during this time, and music experts discuss disco's influence on culture. Clips of Studio 54 show how fabulous this time was. And the film goes on to state that the peak of the disco era was the release of Saturday Night Fever and its multi multi million selling soundtrack with the voice of the Bee Gees singing Stayin Alive. Sadly, once the decade was ending, rock song My Sharona by The Knack, was at number 1 for several weeks, and disco parody songs were on the charts (anyone remember Disco Duck?). Sadly, the Village People deny that they were ever a gay act, and at the end of the documentary, they get angry at Kastner who questions them a few times on it. Studio 54 was to close forever and AIDS was just around the corner. An end to an era expertly documented in The Secret Disco Revolution.
Teenager Lucia and her father move to a new city in Mexico after the death of her mother in After Lucia. Her father finds a job as a chef, while she easily makes friends at her new school. One night, Lucia has sex with a boy from school at a house party, who films their session, and subsequently sends the video to their fellow classmates. This results in dire consequences for both Lucia, and especially for the boy. A very slow but bone-chilling and realistic film on the reality of the power of the internet and how it can destroy lives, and the last ten minutes of the film will literally stop your breathe.
Zach (Lukaas Haas) spends most of his time drinking, and when he is not drinking, he is pursuing Rebecca (the beautiful Madeline Zima), who seems to be hanging out with Zach for his money, as she spends all her time with him but does not want to sleep with him. Zach's best friend is, conveniently, a bartender and a drug dealer. Meanwhile, Zach is a responsible father to his son who lives with his ex-wife, but unfortunately alcohol is his first priority. Crazy Eyes, based on Director Adam Sherman's real life experiences, is an in your face look at alcoholism, though it can be a bit too much at times. Good performances throughout.
John is told by a witch doctor that in order for him to be cured of HIV, he needs to sleep with a virgin. So this film is his quest to find a virgin, no matter what age. Not really an educational film but more of a brutal and very disturbing film that shows the lack of HIV education in Africa.
This French documentary explores the lives of eleven gay men and women over the age of 70. Of course, the title refers to how older gays and lesbians feel in their community, invisible. They discuss how they came out of the closet (or did not come out of the closet) at a time when homosexuality was taboo. Couples reminisce about how they met, but other than that, not much happens. We do get to meet some interesting people, but this documentary never seems to show/explore anything new, and no revelation happens to keep their stories interesting.
My Amityville Horror
In January 1976, after just 28 days of living in their new home in Amityville, New York, the Lutz family flee with just the shirts on their back. They later claimed that their house was possessed by demons of the family that lived there before them, an entire family that was murdered by one of the sons. My Amityville Horror is a documentary of Daniel Lutz, the eldest son, and explores the background of his stepfather George and whether the supernatural happenings did actually take place in that house at 112 Ocean Drive. A well-told and thought provoking film which will leave you questioning the Lutz's version of events.
This film is a simple tale of one man in New York City for one year who wants to make a movie. Love Story is different in that New Zealand actor/director Florian Habicht has asked New Yorkers on the street (and including his father via Skype) how his film should play out. The quirky story, in between the interviews, involves Florian meeting a woman carrying a piece of carrot cake in Brooklyn's Coney Island who he falls for. But with the inter-cutting of the interviews, we are treated to a very charming and original romantic comedy. Made on a budget of only $150,000, and a crew of a few people, the director's style of filmmaking really works and will make you feel soft all over.
Ed (Edward Hogg) works at a call centre and also does stand up comedy, though he is not very good at either. After one of his show, he meets young black man Nathan on the bus who happened to be at his comedy show that night. They start dating, however, Ed has feelings for his flatmate Elise. In this simple, very slow film, not a whole lot happens. It is not very funny, not very dramatic, and not very interesting. And the film ends without a conclusion, but tells us that everything will be OK. It won't, if you are able to sit through this film.
El Cuerpo (The Body)
The body of a recently deceased woman is missing from the morgue and it is up to detectives to find out what happened to it. Enter the deceased woman's husband; did he actually murder her? Does his mistress have anything to do with it? And over the course of one very rainy evening, the plot thickens and the mystery of where the woman's body is does not become apparent. El Cuerpo is a fun mystery drama with surprise plot developments and a very surprising twist at the end. Delicious filmmaking.
This French Canadian film, to be released in the UK on November 30, tells the story of Laurence, a writer and college professor, who wants to transition from male to female. This beautiful movie, set in the 1990s, is about the struggle his girlfriend, Fred, has in accepting her boyfriend's desire to change his gender. Over 10 years, we see them desperately holding on to their relationship, with Fred having the hardest time dealing with the situation, even though she loves him with all her heart. Laurence's mother eventually comes around and accepts the new daughter to her family, which includes her disabled, boring husband. At 160 minutes, Laurence Anyways is not a short film, but every scene, every shot, every word spoken, is elegant, the story extremely crisp, the cinematography very luscious, and the actors both superb (both Melvil Poupaud and Suzanne Clement). Laurence Anyways was the Queer Palm Award and Best Actress for Clement at this year's Cannes Film Festival, two awards it richly deserved. Laurence Anyways is an amazing film that you owe yourself to see, and it is more amazing in the fact that the director is only 23.
Zhit, filmed in Russia, is a movie of three different sets of people with three difference stories. Two young people, newly married and very happy, run afoul of thugs on a train and their young lives are changed forever. One woman, whose two children were taken away from her, awaits their return, even though they died in a car crash. And after they are buried, she digs them up and brings them back home. Bad consequences come to her as a result of this. One boy, very unhappy living with his mother and step-father, longs to live with his father. And when he runs away to do so, he is found by his stepfather, and again, bad consequences for the father. This dark, disturbing film is all about the choices and paths we have made in life.