No longer are gay-themed films relegated exclusively to contemporary coming-out stories and girl-meets-girl or boy-meets-boy romances. While those remain popular and universal themes (after all, who hasn't discovered their sexuality and fallen in love?), the remarkable increase in gay-content film over the past two decades has allowed filmmakers to depict other aspects of the gay experience and to redefine what "gay film" can be.
In the more than 40 films and videos to be presented at the 19th annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, expect to see films portraying today's romances as well as serial-killer flicks, a domestic drama featuring middle-aged Spanish
men, and films that examine gay lives lived long ago -- from the Harlem Renaissance to Warhol's Factory days and 18th-century South Africa.
To be sure, people enjoy a love story, so the festival kicks off Fri., Oct. 15, with an Irish romantic comedy, Goldfish Memory, that has men and women, homos and heteros, all struggling to find their match. The screening will be followed by a gala party.
The festival continues through Sun., Oct. 24. Films and videos screen at the Harris Theater, Downtown, and at Shepherd Wellness Center auditorium, at 4800 Sciota St., in Bloomfield. Tickets are $7.50 for single admissions. Discount passes are available, including: the Cheap Thrills Pass ($42 for six admissions); the Screen Queen Pass ($65 for 10 admissions); and the Diva Pass ($100 for admission to all festival events including the opening night film and gala). Contact 412-232-3277 or www.pilgff.org for more information
Here is the screening schedule for the first seven days:
Fri., Oct. 15
8 p.m. GOLDFISH MEMORY. (See review next page.) Harris. Tickets are $25; screening followed by opening-night party at Space gallery.
Sat., Oct. 16
4:30 p.m. SUPERSTAR IN A HOUSEDRESS. Lily Tomlin narrates this documentary from Craig Highberger about transvestite and Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis. Archival footage and interviews with contemporaries such as Holly Woodland and Harvey Fierstein help sketch a portrait of this groundbreaking gender-bender amidst the glittery 1960s demi-monde. Harris
7 p.m. HER SHORTS. A program of short films by and about women. Harris
9:30 p.m. HIS SHORTS. A program of short films by and about men. Harris
Sun., Oct. 17
4:30 p.m. MAKE A WISH. This comedy-horror flick with a lesbian twist opens a night of spooky, sexy films. A gang of gals -- many of them exes -- finds their weekend camping trip disrupted by a serial killer. Harris
7 p.m. HELLBENT. Four lads out for fun at the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival discover -- once the heads start rolling -- that the hunky guy with the scythe isn't just there for the costume contest. A stylish, gory thriller with a gay punk soundtrack. Harris
9:30 p.m. WISHING STAIRS. In this sequel to Yun Jae-yeon's Memento Mori (which screened at the 2001 PILGFF), two teen-age girls at a ballet school tempt supernatural spirits. Full of chills, thrills and lesbian overtones. In Korean with subtitles. Harris
Mon., Oct. 18
8 p.m. BEAR CUB. Pedro, a middle-aged dentist and active participant in Madrid's gay bear -- big and hairy -- scene, takes in his 9-year-old nephew Bernardo for two weeks while his sister, Violeta, takes a trip. The two make awkward accommodations -- Pedro's sex life is compromised, but Bernardo makes dinner. When circumstances prevent Violeta from returning to Spain, Pedro becomes Bernardo's de facto parent -- with help from the bear community. In this well-acted domestic drama, director Miguel Albaladejo, while never shying away from Pedro's sexuality, seeks to examine the bonds -- some tenuous, others remarkably strong -- that create families out of today's social chaos. Earthy and funny -- the way even troubled lives can be -- Bear Cub will break your heart a bit, but this tale of ordinary people muddling through proves both rewarding and uplifting. In Spanish with subtitles. Harris AAA
Tue., Oct. 19
8 p.m. ROUND TRIP. In this drama, a single mother in Tel Aviv starts a relationship with the Nigerian woman she has hired as her children's nanny. In English and Hebrew with subtitles. Harris
Wed., Oct. 20
PROTEUS. Canadian filmmaker John Grayson teams with South African activist Jack Lewis to make this historical drama based on a true story. Set in 18th-century Cape Town, the film depicts the relationship between two men -- a black slave and a white prisoner. In English, and Afrikaans and Nama with subtitles. Harris
Thu., Oct. 21
7 p.m. INESCAPABLE. In this erotic lesbian drama from Helen Lesnick, two former lovers, reunited when their current partners stage a reunion weekend, rekindle their relationship. Harris
9:30 p.m. SUGAR. Adapted from a series of short stories by Bruce LaBruce and directed by John Palmer, this comedy-drama, set in Toronto in the 1980s, follows 18-year-old Cliff's coming out. Harris c