The 28th annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is now known as Reel Q, but it features the same line-up: 15 narrative and documentary films, three programs of shorts, and opening- and closing-night parties. The festival begins Fri., Oct. 11, and runs through Sat., Oct. 19.
Opening-night is a double-header with a party in between screenings. First up is Reaching for the Moon (7 p.m.), a Brazilian docudrama about the longtime — and tumultuous — mid-century relationship between prize-winning American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares, an architect and urban planner who helped to create Rio's famed beachfront park. The melodrama is a trifle soapy — there is alcoholism and a nervous breakdown, and Lota keeps a former lover close by — but the story is interesting. A deeper film might have made a more rigorous examination of class and wealth, both of which seem to insulate the relationship from prevailing societal prejudices.
When dressed as drag star Divine, Harris Glenn Milstead didn't care what society thought. I Am Divine (9:30 p.m.), the new documentary from Jeffrey Schwarz (Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon), recounts the life of the bullied, gay fat kid from the Baltimore suburbs who rose to fame in John Waters' films, from the filth queen of Pink Flamingos to the sweet-sad mom of Hairspray. Friends and colleagues (including Waters) weigh in on this aspect of Divine's life, but there's also plenty of material documenting her nightclub acts, recording career and the struggle to find acceptance as an actor who wasn't wearing a dress. A rousing and bittersweet portrait as rounded as Divine herself.
Other films previewed include Interior. Leather Bar (9 p.m. Sat., Oct. 12), a collaboration between filmmaker Travis Mathews and actor James Franco that documents the making-of some of the lost homoerotic footage from the 1980 Al Pacino film Cruising. I'm not sure how real that project is, but the shaggy, hour-long film does raise issues of masculinity and role-playing. (With explicit content, though not of Franco.)
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth (7 p.m. Fri., Oct. 18) is a documentary portrait of the well-known African-American writer who rose from a sharecropping farm in Georgia to winning the Pulitzer Prize for her 1982 novel, The Color Purple. The film recounts her life in letters (novels, poetry) as well as her lifelong civil-rights activism and her myriad personal relationships, with both men and women. Walker is extensively interviewed, and helps draw parallels between her own experiences and her work.
ReelQ wraps up Sat., Oct 19, with a screening of G.B.F. (8:30 p.m.), followed by a party. The acronym stands for "gay best friend," and that's the hottest accessory at one high school, with three queen bees (drama, super-bitch and goody-two-shoes) vying for one accidently outed young man. The ensemble cast has a blast snarking through this comedy-with-a-message. The script was written by Pittsburgher George Northy, who will attend the screening.
Also screening during the festival: Heterosexual Jill (3 p.m. Sat., Oct. 12), a comedy about lesbian actors — and cats; Will You Still Love me Tomorrow? (5 p.m. Sun., Oct. 13), a Taiwanese comedy; Ian Harvie Superhero (4 p.m. Sat., Oct. 19), a profile of the transsexual comedian; and Shorts Programs for men and women.