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The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival

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The tenth Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival runs from Friday, November 9, through Sunday, November 18, at Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont; the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport; Horizons Center, 961 W. Montrose; Footsteps Theatre, 6968 N. Clark; Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark; and Rodde Center, 4753 N. Broadway. Tickets ($4 for most matinees, including 5 pm shows; $5 for most evening shows) go on sale a half hour before the first show; advance tickets can be purchased before the day of the show at Chicago Filmmakers. Festival passes are $55 (good for all screenings) or $25 (good for six screenings only, not including opening night). For further information call 281-1981 or 281-8788.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9

COMING OUT An East German feature directed by Heiner Carow (The Legend of Paul and Paula) that premiered at the Berlin film festival (where it was awarded the Silver Bear) the day the Berlin Wall came down. It describes the life of a schoolteacher (Mathias Freihof) who becomes involved with a much younger man (Dirk Kummer). With Dagmar Manzel (1989). (Music Box, 7:00)

NOCTURNE Not to be confused with the U.S. film of the same title showing later during the festival, this is a 58-minute British film by Joy Chamberlain about the encounter between an upper-class woman returning home for her mother's funeral and two young lesbian runaways who bring back memories of her past. On the same program, Penny McDonald's Life on Earth as I Know It, a short from New Zealand (1989). (Music Box, 9:15)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10

TEENAGE AND GAY A program for youths between the ages of 14 and 20 only, consisting of two videotapes: Scott Greene's Who's Afraid of Project 10? (1989) and the Community Television Network's Teens and Homosexuality (1988). (Horizons Center, noon)

COMING OUT See listing under Friday, November 9. (Music Box, 1:00)

JAMES BALDWIN A documentary by Karen Thorsen about the late novelist and essayist that touches on various aspects of his life and work. From a literary standpoint, one occasionally regrets the film's efforts to "illustrate" some of its commentaries (including footage from various dramatizations of his work) because this tends to shortchange the viewer's imagination. (An ideal Baldwin documentary might have juxtaposed passages from his neglected and fascinating book about film, The Devil Finds Work, with clips from the films he writes about, which would have been more to the point.) Despite the value of many of these commentaries (from former lovers, friends, relatives, and colleagues, such as Ishmael Reed), which testify to the love and lucidity that Baldwin inspired, it is the material drawn from numerous interviews with the writer himself that is most beautiful and priceless: Baldwin was usually his own best explicator, and his passion and power as a speaker are given full rein (1989). (Music Box, 3:00)

COMRADES IN ARMS A 50-minute British documentary by Stuart Marshall in which six lesbians and gay men recount their experiences in the British armed forces during World War II. On the same program, two shorts: the British Flames of Passion (1989), and Jean Genet's only film, the remarkable, beautiful, and silent Un chant d'amour (1947). (Music Box, 5:00)

THE LAST SONG Pisan Akarasainee's feature from Thailand, a hit on its home turf, concerns a country boy who comes to the big city, is supported by a female impersonator, and has the hard luck of falling in love with a lesbian (1989). The festival is showing its sequel, Anguished Love, on Thursday, November 15. (Music Box, 7:15)

MACHO DANCER Surprisingly, this is the first feature by Lino Brocka--the prolific master melodramatist (with more than 100 films to his credit) and passionate political activist--to have received U.S. distribution. A 135-minute film about gay teenage hustlers in Manila, based on a true story, this is a long-cherished project of Brocka's that he was unable to develop during the Marcos period (1988). (Music Box, 9:30)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11

OUT ON TUESDAY: PROGRAM 1 The first of four programs to be shown from Britain's Channel Four gay and lesbian newsmagazine show; this one includes Pratibha Parmar's segment about Indian lesbian poet Suniti Namjoshi, a segment by Simon Callow about homosexuals in fiction who have inspired British films and TV adaptations, a profile of Irish senator David Norris, a "rough trade" guide to the Common Market capitals, and a travelogue entitled Greek Love and Sapphic Sophistication. (Footsteps, 1:00)

GAY SHORTS Bill Bissell's Yettem (Paradise) (1989), Jerry Tartaglia's Remembrance, Timothy F. Tucker's Half the Battle (1989), Edgar A. Barens's Automonosexual (1988), Phillip B. Roth's delightful Boys/Life (1989), and Edward Askinazi's Harold and Hiroshi (1989). All these films are from the U.S. (Music Box, 1:00 pm)

THE OUTSIDERS Not to be confused with Francis Coppola's homoerotic teenage film of the same title, this is the first gay film licensed by the Taiwanese governmen-t-a suspense story directed by Yu Kan-Ping about a group of boys in Taipei whose families have expelled them for being gay. When shown at the Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival in 1987, it was one of the most popular selections. (Music Box, 3:00)

STRAIGHT FOR THE HEART This 1988 feature by Swiss-born, Montreal-based Lea Pool (La femme de Motel) was praised by Ronnie Scheib in these pages as a "celebration of sanity" when it showed at the Chicago International Film Festival last year. It describes what happens when a famous photojournalist returns from an assignment in Nicaragua to discover that his long-term menage a trois has dissolved, partly because the female member of this threesome (Jesus of Montreal's Johanne-Marie Tremblay) is pregnant by the other male member; the hero eventually begins a relationship with a young male deaf-mute. Adapted from Yves Navarre's French novel Kurwenal. (Music Box, 5:00)

ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT A lesbian film by Beeban Kidron, originally conceived as a three-part British miniseries, and adapted by Jeannette Winterson from her novel of the same title. The story concerns a young girl's escape from a strong religious upbringing; the running time is 165 minutes (1989). (Music Box, 7:00)

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12

NIGHT OUT A 50-minute Australian fiction by Lawrence Johnston about a gay couple whose relationship is upset by both infidelity and a gay-bashing incident (1989). On the same program, Marlon Riggs's Tongues Untied, a nonfiction account of black gay life (1989). (Music Box, 7:00)

OUT ON TUESDAY: PROGRAM 2 The second of four programs to be shown from Britain's Channel Four gay and lesbian newsmagazine. Segments include Women Like US, which portrays 16 lesbians between the ages of 50 and 80; Let's Pretend, which concerns lesbian mothers; and School for Scandal, a guide to the British tabloids' treatment of homosexuality. (Women & Children First, 7:30)

PINK ULYSSES The latest feature of the eclectic Eric de Kuyper from the Netherlands interweaves two stories--a free adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, shot in color, and a story depicting "the inner struggle of the 'pink Ulysses,'" shot in black and white. It contains footage from 50s bodybuilding films, Eisenstein films, and a TV version of "Sleeping Beauty"; the diverse inspirations are said to include Zarah Leander, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Cocteau. (Music Box, 9:15)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13

ALL-GIRL ACTION SHOW Susie Bright, editor of the feminist magazine On Our Backs, presents a program of clips, subtitled "The History of Lesbian Erotica." (Music Box, 7:00)

STRANGE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FUN KIND Seven shorts from the U.S. and one from Canada (Shawna Dempsey and Tracy Traeger's funny music rap, We're Talking Vulva). The U.S. shorts are Richard Brenin's Why I Masturbate, Bryan Gordon's Oscar-winning Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall (1987), Karen Redgreene's Marry Yourself, Connie Boy Steinman's Jackie and the Beanstalk, Lisa Ginsburg and Michal Goralsky's Joystick Blues, Phillip B. Roth's refreshing Boys/Life (1989), and Roth's more recent 25 Year Old Gay Man Loses His Virginity to a Woman, featuring porn star/performance artist Annie Sprinkle. (Music Box, 9:30)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14

JOHANNA D'ARC OF MONGOLIA I've only sampled this nearly three-hour extravaganza by German filmmaker and performance artist Ulrike Ottinger (Ticket of No Return, Freak Orlando), but most of what I saw whetted my appetite for more. The film centers around four female travelers on the Trans-Siberian Railway--an aristocrat (one of the last performances by the great Delphine Seyrig), a German botanist (Fassbinder regular Irm Hermann), a Broadway star, and a beautiful young student. (Peter Kern is also on board as a Catskills comic.) The women are kidnapped by a band of wild Mongolian women riding camels, and what follows has been described as documentary combined with ironic narrative (1989). (Music Box, 6:30)

MALA NOCHE For people like me who often feel oppressed by minority-film categories such as "gay films," "black films," "Jewish films," "independent films," and so on, it isn't very helpful to call this really well done, low-budget, and personal effort--directed and adapted by Gus Van Sant from a Walt Curtis novel, and shot in Portland, Oregon--a "gay film." It's far better to say that the film's working-class hero (extremely well played by Tim Streeter), who works as a grocery-store clerk in Portland's skid row, happens to be gay, has an unrequited crush on an illegal Mexican immigrant named Juancito (Doug Cooeyate), and ultimately has a brief affair with Juancito's friend, another illegal alien. Strikingly shot in high-contrast black and white, with offscreen narration and postsynchronized dialogue, the film suffers in spots from its austere budget; the short-take editing style is persuasively handled, but gets a mite monotonous in spots. Still, this 1985 film's absolute freedom from cliches is genuinely refreshing; in some ways it's even more impressive than Van Sant's later Drugstore Cowboy. If you haven't already seen it, it shouldn't be missed. With Ray Monge. (Chicago Filmmakers, 7:00)

SHORT FUSE: THE STORY OF AN AIDS ACTIVIST A locally produced, 68-minute video portrait of Daniel Sotomayor, the first openly gay syndicated political cartoonist in the U.S., made by Rick Delaup and Sandra Quinn. On the same program, Ellen Spiro's 29-minute video Diana's Hair Ego: AIDS Info Upfront (1989). (Chicago Filmmakers, 9:15)

I AM A MAN M.L. Bandevanop Devakul's Thai adaptation of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, with the queens in the play turned into drag queens, and the cowboy into a young macho dancer (1988). (Music Box, 9:30)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15

EVENINGS Based on gay author Gerard Reve's novel of the same name, this Dutch feature by Rudolf Van den Berg, set during the last week of 1947, focuses on the coming of age of a 23-year-old clerk and writer (1989). (Music Box, 7:00)

DRY KISSES ONLY Jane Cottis and Kaucyila Brooke manipulate various clips from Hollywood classics to reveal their lesbian subtexts and offer fresh footage about lesbians in Hollywood in this new U.S. feature. (Chicago Filmmakers, 7:00)

ANGUISHED LOVE Thai director Pisan Akarasainee's sequel to his camp melodrama The Last Song (see listing under Saturday, November 10) continues the adventures of a country boy attempting to go straight, as well as those of several drag queens and lesbians (1987). (Music Box, 9:15)

LESBIANS IN LOVE Five U.S. shorts: Ana Maria Simo and Ela Troyano's How to Kill Her (1988), Connie Boy Steinman's Jackie and the Beanstalk, Lisa Ginsburg and Michal Goralsky's Joystick Blues, Aarin Burch's Dreams of Passion (1989), and Catherine Saalfield and Zoe Leonard's Keep Your Laws Off My Body. (Chicago Filmmakers, 9:00)

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