The Tampabay Gay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) injects the arts with some international flavor. Besides the wonderful Indian Margarita, With a Straw – playing Sunday, Oct. 4 – TIGLFF features many outstanding foreign films. The festival kicks off this weekend. Events will be at different venues throughout Florida’s west coast, though most the big events from Oct. 2 through Oct. 10 will be at The Palladium – including a show with lesbian comic Lea DeLaria on Saturday, Oct. 3. Movies will play in theaters in Tampa, St. Pete, and Gulfport throughout the nine-day festival. Tickets and information are available at TIGLFF.com. Here are some of the offerings from around the globe: 

Guidance – Feature Film
4PM, Sunday, Oct. 4, Palladium Theatre

In Guidance, writer/director/actor Pat Mills shows off his comic muscle.

In Guidance, writer/director/actor Pat Mills shows off his comic muscle.

Canada has always had a gift with comedies; look at Second City and Kids in the Hall. Pat Mills definitely fits with this off-kilter, crude comedy about a latent homosexual in a serious self-destructive cyclone.

Mills – who also wrote and directed Guidance – portrays David Gold, an aging actor who was once was a famous child actor. Now, this train wreck drinks and smokes as he does voice-overs of self-help recordings. He’s flamboyant, but deeply in denial, about his sexuality, as well as many other things. When he finds out he has Stage 3 melanoma, he lights a cigarette and goes to the tanning salon. When he gets fired – for showing up inebriated and sounding too gay – he steals someone else’s identity and become a school guidance counselor.

Of course, his advice to students is horrible. At work, he’s drinking or smoking pot with the kids. And, wow, there are some inappropriate, funny things that come out of his mouth! The school leadership is suspicious. (The teacher’s lounge is a viper pit!) The kids think he’s OK. Somehow he doesn’t irrevocably ruin their lives, and he sort of gets them.

David’s old self-help recordings play over scenes. It’s obvious he’s incredibly self-deluded, since he cannot even heed his own affirmations.

Guidance is a lot of shallow fun, tasteless and silly. David Gold has been called a self-loathing antihero bent on self-destruction. If you get a kick out of watching those types hit rock bottom, the dark comedy Guidance is worth seeing.

 

Eisenstein in Guanajuato – Feature Film
7PM, Thursday, Oct. 8, Villagio Cinemas

Like many great foreign films, Eisenstein is shockingly sexual.

Like many great foreign films, Eisenstein is shockingly sexual.

Wildly presentational, overtly theatrical, and yet always passionate, Eisenstein in Guanajuato is a sexually charged biopic about a fascinating man coming out of the closet at the age of 33.

Eisenstein was a gay Russian director made famous by The Battleship Potempkin. Though Jewish and flamboyant, Eisenstein was beloved by Stalin and Russia. In 1931, Eisenstein was invited to Hollywood by Communist sympathizers. However, America’s conservative element soon forced Eisenstein to flee to Mexico to make his next film. There, no longer under Stalinist rule, he explored luxuries like showers, alcohol, and gay sex.

Dutch director Peter Greenaway (Prospero’s Books, The Pillow Book) is an experimental artist who obviously admires Eisenstein’s film work; it’s showcased throughout this English-language flick. Broad melodrama informs Eisenstein, as do overlapping images, unrealistic lighting, musical shifts, split screens, quick cut-aways, and other effects that constantly remind us we’re watching a movie.

Eisenstein is also shockingly sensual, with frequent close-up nudity and sexual acts.

The overt, colorful performances – especially Elmer Bäck’s Eisenstein – are a lot of fun. Also, the art direction is sumptuous, showing 1930s Mexico in rich golden light, finding the odd areas to feature, utilizing elaborate sets.

The deeper question that Eistenstein asks is about freedom. Eisenstein created his best work before Mexico, before his sexual awakening. Whether repression and limitation drove his artistry is a difficult and uncomfortable quandary. Wrapped in a highly stylized, entertaining film, it’s a worthy question to ponder.

 

Liz in September – Feature Film
7pm, Friday, Oct. 9, Catherine A Hickman Theater

Patricia Velasquez and Eloisa Maturén give solid, subtle performances in Liz in September

Patricia Velasquez and Eloisa Maturén give solid, subtle performances in Liz in September

Liz in September takes female strength and camaraderie seriously. This Venezuelan romance is based on the groundbreaking 1980 play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove.

Eva (Eloisa Maturén) has recently lost her young son. She decides to take a break from her husband and shaky marriage when her car breaks down in a small Venezuelan town. The only place she can stay is a nearby lesbian resort. While there, Eva meets a cold, calculated womanizer named Liz (The L Word’s Patricia Velasquez). At first, the other lesbians at the retreat are taken aback to have a straight woman in their circle. Liz soon bets her friends that she can bed Eva – bedding others being her favorite sport. Thus begins a lesbian twist on a typical plot.

It’s a plot that needs updating, and Liz in September does the best it can. Though the lesbian campground seems quaint, the treatment of the place is pretty casual. The script cannot quite strip away the warm campfire moments. However, it deals with Liz’s terminal cancer without becoming too melancholic or melodramatic most of the time.

Eva and Liz bond over shared loss. It’s no surprise that both women’s defenses break down – Eva’s heterosexuality, Liz’s calculated anti-romance.

The setting is handsome, and the acting is well grounded. Everything is shot with a blue or gold filter, giving the film a nostalgic, summery glow. Director Fina Torres has a gift with establishing shots and pace, making the languid days stretch out without overstuffing the film.

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