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Reel Q: The Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

The 29th annual event offers feature films, programs of shorts and parties

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52 Weeks, Blackbird, Letter to Anita and Appropriate Behavior
  • From top left, clockwise: 52 Weeks, Blackbird, Letter to Anita and Appropriate Behavior

The 29th annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, now known as Reel Q, runs Fri., Oct. 10, through Oct. 18. It features: 13 narrative and documentary films, three programs of shorts and opening- and closing-night parties.

The opening-night film is Blackbird (7:30 p.m. Fri., Oct. 10), a coming-out dramedy from Patrik-Ian Polk that also explores issues of faith, family and what Romeo and Juliet would be like if Juliet were a man. Julian Walker portrays a small-town Mississippi teen who's both deeply religious and deeply attracted to men; his conflicting desires are often expressed in beautifully sung gospel tunes while he fantasizes about encounters with hot guys. Mo'Nique and Isaiah Washington co-star as his estranged parents.

Andrea Myerson directs the hour-long doc Letter to Anita (4:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 11; preceded by the short "In the Overlap"), about the surprising effect Anita Bryant's anti-gay campaign in the 1970s had on one Florida woman and even the national gay-rights movement. Spoiler alert: Ms. Bryant likely helped the gay cause.

There's plenty of sardonic humor in Desiree Akhavan's comedy Appropriate Behavior (7 p.m. Sat., Oct. 11), in which the director portrays a feisty Iranian-American bisexual who can't come out to her immigrant family. Akhavan is an appealing lead, and expect plenty of sly jokes about Brooklyn bohemia.

Gender, sexuality, family, coming out, growing up and the advance of time are among the themes of 52 Tuesdays (7 p.m. Thu., Oct. 16), Sophie Hyde's impressive melodrama about a teenage Australian girl (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), who suddenly discovers her mother (Del Herbert-Jane) is transitioning to a man. Hyde shot weekly over a year, and the visible temporal passage is among the film's strengths, in addition to great performances. The work is sensitive and raw, funny and bittersweet.

Also screening during the festival: The family comedy Eat With Me, with George Takei; women in love, friendship and maybe more (Tru Love and BFFs); the Dutch comedy 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg; the Swedish gender exploration Something Must Break; the drag '80s high school send-up First Period; Out in the Night, a doc about the self-defense case of the New Jersey 4; The Circle, a docudrama about a long-running gay paper in Europe; and Shorts Programs for men and women. ReelQ wraps up with a screening of the Brazilian coming-of-age film The Way He Looks, followed by a party.

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