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24 Jan 2008

love & pride film festival: a special fridae festival guide

The best-loved gay and lesbian films of recent years are coming back to Singapore screens this weekend! Cinema chain Golden Village is organising the first ever film festival that celebrates the best in LGBT cinema.

Aptly titled the Love & Pride Film Festival, the event will run from Jan 25 to 27 Jan at two GV cinemas, GV Grand and GV Vivocity's Gold Class.

And so, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger (who tragically died of a drug overdose on Tuesday) will ride across the rough terrain of Brokeback Mountain once again as gay cowboy lovers. Cybersex vixen Rainie Yang and artist Isabella Leong will recapture their memories of Spider Lilies, while the beautiful Emily Blunt and Natalie Press will relive My Summer of Love.

Ching Su-yin, the marketing manager of Golden Village (GV), says: "In the past few years, we've seen some wonderful critically-acclaimed films that deal with the theme of gender and sexuality. We felt that it would be a great idea to bring them back in a special festival dedicated to such films."

She revealed that many of these seven titles had been popular with general Singaporean audiences when the films were first released. Brokeback Mountain, especially, had performed so well critically and commercially that it paved the way for more LGBT films on our screens. The screenings of Brokeback this weekend will no doubt be made more poignant by the tragic death of its star Heath Ledger.

She also says that the Love & Pride Film Festival is meant for everyone, gay or straight, since these films are simply "terrific films that deserve to be seen by all".

All seven films will be playing at GV Grand from 25 - 27 Jan for a very special price of $7 per movie, or $18 for three movies together.

Meanwhile, classy audiences who would like to sip on champagne while they meditate on the mise-en-scene might want to watch the film in GV Vivocity's Gold Class cinema instead. There, audiences will be treated to a glass of Moet & Chandon champagne and strawberries fondue during the movie! Purchase of pair of Gold Class tickets for $98.

The seven films selected for the festival all explore the issue of homosexuality and bisexuality with varying degrees of power and candour. A few even do so with a large dose of camp. But one thing's for sure: They're all worth re-watching if you've already seen them.

Fridae looks at the slate of films and tells you what to watch out for:

Metrosexual (Opening film)
In Thai with subtitles, 120 minutes
Director: Youngyooth Thongkonthun
Cast: Patcharasri Benjamas, Meesuke Jangmeesuke, Thienchai Jayasvasti, Pimonwan Suphayang, Ornpriya Hunsat, Kulnadda Pachimsawat

What exactly makes up a gay man? And how do you spot one in a crowd? This funny and irreverent comedy makes fun of every single stereotypical trait of gay men.

According to this movie, a gay man knows which foundation suits which skin type, which hair product to use for any occasion, and most damningly, when the Estee Lauder sale begins. He is also an impeccable dresser and goes so far as to colour-code his wardrobe.

Comedy begins when five gal pals in Bangkok try to find out if one of them is really dating a closeted gay man. The girls enlist the help of a campy flight attendant (Michael Shaowanasai) with a strong gaydar to help them spot the "little mermaid among the stallions".

The results are funny, frivolous, though sometimes frustrating. Metrosexual opens the film festival on a very pink note!

My Summer of Love
In English, 88 minutes
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Cast: Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine
Awards: Best New British Feature, Edinburgh International Film Festival
Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, BAFTA Awards
Best Director, Directors Guild of Great Britain
Best Screenplay and Most Promising Newcomer, Evening Standard British Film Awards
Best Newcomer of the Year, London Critics Circle Film Awards
Best European Film, Polish Film Awards

Perhaps the most beautiful lesbian movie to grace our screens in recent years, My Summer of Love stars Natalie Press and Emily Blunt as two lovely, lonely girls who feel alienated from their own family members.

When they meet, the two girls sense something similar in each other. In few weeks, their casual acquaintance turns into a powerful attraction that burns like a blazing fire. But like all combustions, it threatens to consume them...

Directed by Polish helmer Pawel Pawlikowsi, this is an extraordinary character study of two girls learning to break away from the strictures of society. The way they talk, tease and torment each other are honestly and accurately depicted.

My Summer Of Love is a Sapphic romance between two hearts that are desperate to beat as one, a coming-of-age story of two young souls yearning to live and love. It's the best lesbian film in the festival and certainly worth seeing again.

In English and Spanish, 88 minutes
Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Cast: Emily Rios, Jesse Garcia, Araceli Guzman-Rico, J R Cruz, Listette Avila
Awards: Grand Jury Prize For Best Picture and Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival
Audience Award, Newport International Film Festival
Audience Award, Atlanta International Film Festival
Audience Award, Provincetown International Film Festival

Gay movie buffs would probably have seen The Fluffer, a B-grade sex comedy about a boy who falls in love with a gay porn star. It was written and directed by gay couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.

Quinceanera is by the same guys - except it's much, much better than The Fluffer.

Sweet and touching, it tells a story of two Hispanic teenagers in Los Angeles who have been thrown out of their houses by their parents. One of them, Carlos, is gay. The other, 14-year-old Magdalena, is pregnant. The two are forced to move into their uncle's home where they slowly become friends.

Things get complicated for Carlos when a wealthy gay white couple (David W Ross and Jason L Wood) move into the house above their uncle's home. The two men can't resist Carlos' young chocolate-mousse skin, so they immediately try to seduce him...

Gritty, honest and well-acted, Quinceanera is a must-see for gay arthouse lovers.

Spider Lilies
In Mandarin with subtitles, 98 minutes
Director: Zero Chou
Cast: Rainie Yang, Isabella Leong, John Shen, Jay Shih
Awards: Best Feature Film Teddy Award, Berlin International Film Festival

Spider Lilies is the only Asian lesbian film featured in the festival. Written and directed by lesbian filmmaker Zero Chou, it won the Teddy Award for the best queer film at the Berlin International Film Festival 2007. Way to go, Zero!

The very cute Rainie Yang plays an Internet soft-porn star who dances sensuously for anonymous web visitors. One day, she visits a tattoo parlour where she meets the mysterious Isabella Leong. Rainie wants Isabella to give her a spider-lilies tattoo - the exact same one the Isabella sports on her arm. But Isabella is reluctant. Flashbacks reveal that the two share a tragic past which stops them from forming meaningful relationships with other women

Spider Lilies scored a coup with the casting of the beautiful ingenues, Rainie and Isabella. They're both talented and attractive. Unfortunately, the problem with this film is its unintended suggestion that having gay sex often leads to tragic consequences - each time Rainie and Isabella make out, something terrible happens.

Now, we all know that gay love is as beautiful as any other love, so we wonder why Spider Lilies wants us to feel bad about the physical expressions of our sexuality.

Eternal Summer
In Mandarin with subtitles, 93 minutes
Director: Leste Chen
Cast: Bryant Chang Jui-Chia, Joseph Chang Hsiao-Chuan, Kate Yeung Seung
Awards: Best Newcomer Award, Golden Horse Awards
Opening Film, Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

For some of us, Taiwanese drama Eternal Summer is best remembered for the ultra-hot bod of Joseph Chang. Tall, dark and handsome, he raises the temperature of the room every time he casually clenches his square jaw.

(Joseph, in case you don't know, is performing in a play entitled What Is Man? in Singapore's Esplanade Theater on 12 - 13 Feb. Hmmm what is man? You, Joseph.)

Joseph plays a basketball-dribbling hunk whom everyone in school is drooling over - including shy gay boy Bryant Chang. Joseph regards Bryant as his best buddy, but Bryant wants so much more from Joseph. So when the new student Kate Yeung starts to get close to Joseph, Bryant becomes jealous. Bryant decides to tell Joseph the truth about his feelings, and then ask Joseph for something else

Eternal Summer is a tender and evocative drama that beautifully plays out its love triangle between Joseph, Bryant and Kate. The actors are so good that both Bryant and Joseph were nominated for Best Newcomer in the Golden Horse Awards 2007, with Bryant eventually taking home the prize.

In French with subtitles, 92 minutes
Director: Eric Lavaine
Cast: Clovis Cornillac, Julie Depardieu, Lionel Abelanski, Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus

Thank God for the inclusion of comedies Poltergay and Metrosexual in the festival! With all the sad and tormented gay characters walking around in the other films, you'd think that being gay only spelt doom and gloom.

Poltergay shows a different side of being gay - that is, a life of endless music and laughter. And when we say "endless", we mean that literally The movie begins at a gay club in the 60s where a bunch of happy gay men are partying to the disco beats of Boney M, when a freak accident causes a fire and kills them all.

Still determined to party, the spirits of the gay men rise beyond their graves and continue to dance at the closed-down club. So when a new owner (a very buff Clovis Cornillac) moves into the premises, he quickly comes face-to-face with the poltergays

For sheer campy fun, you can't beat this one.

Brokeback Mountain
In English, 134 minutes
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Heath Ledge, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid

Here's the mother of all gay movies. The one that defined how gay films can be made. The one that took home prize after prize in award ceremonies. The one that broke new ground and changed the course of movie history forever.

Written by lesbian writer Annie Proulx and directed by Taiwanese genius Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain stars Jake Gyllenhaal and the recently-deceased Heath Ledger as two gay cowboys who discover their sexuality and their deep love for each other while herding horses in 1963 in the verdant green of Brokeback Mountain.

Unfortunately for these men, they lived in an era when homosexuality is not spoken of - let alone tolerated. So they must hide their feelings for each other, and find suitable wives and raise children instead. But in their hearts of hearts, they still pine for the time they spent together on Brokeback Mountain.

Lyrical, graceful, elegant and heartbreaking, mainstream audiences may have never known how good a gay film could be until Brokeback Mountain came along. It's a film that could be watched over and over again, as each viewing yields new perceptions and understanding.

If you only rewatch one film at the festival, let it be Brokeback Mountain.

The Pride & Love Film Festival will be playing at GV Grand and GV Vivocity Gold Class cinema this weekend from the 25 - 27 Jan. Tickets at GV Grand are at $7 per movie, or $18 for three movies together. Tickets at GV Vivocity Gold Class cinema are at $98 for two persons and come with a glass of Moet & Chandon champagne each and strawberries fondue. To check timings and book tickets, click on the link provided below.

Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author
Comment #2 was deleted by its author
3. 2008-01-23 18:50  
I am nt a Heath Ledger fan, but I have to admit- his unprecedented passing does affect me quite a bit. Perhaps it's a wakeup call to me- to treasure my family/ friends/ life/people around me, etc- before it's too late.

Looking fwd to the Love & Pride film festival.

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