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The Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

The 27th annual event offers feature films, programs of shorts and parties

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Time to get ready for the 27th annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, beginning Fri., Oct. 12, and running through Oct. 21. The festival offers 17 feature-length films, three programs of shorts, and opening- and closing-night parties. 

The opening-night film, Cloudburst (7:30 p.m.), is a dramedy starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as two longtime lovers who run away to Canada to get married. The plot is a bit hokey and there is some amateurish acting, but Fricker and Dukakis sell their respective characters: one sweet and accommodating, the other foul-mouthed and fiercely devoted. The film's final line is worth the ticket.

Four films screen on Sat., Oct. 13. The origin and various campaigns of the AIDS/HIV activist group are the subject of United in Anger: The History of ACT UP (1 p.m.), a documentary that relies on first-person accounts and lots of archival footage. The presentation is a bit shaggy, but the content is inspiring stuff.

Mosquita y Mari (4 p.m.) is a well-acted and finely wrought coming-of-age indie film which reveals the increasingly intimate relationship between two Latina teen-age girls in suburban Los Angeles, and the confusion it creates for them and for their families.

From Iran comes the thoughtful melodrama Facing Mirrors (7 p.m.), a sensitive portrayal of a young woman transitioning to male and the female cab driver she befriends. Both strain against the country's rigid gender codes, some of which can be enforced by law.

It's an oh-so-modern problem in Gayby (9:30 p.m.), when a straight woman asks her best gay friend to be the daddy of her baby, and they decide to make it work — ahem — the old-fashioned way. This is a bubbly comedy with likable leads, and a phalanx of bitchy queens to keep the snarky comments coming.

The circumstances of a 2009 police action on a gay bar in Fort Worth, Texas, are the focus of Raid on the Rainbow Lounge (Sat., 1 p.m.). It's a great David-vs.-Goliath story, how the subsequent outrage formed an engaged community that successfully fought for positive change in both law-enforcement policies and city government. But the inspirational tale gets undermined by the film's reliance on repetitive talking heads.

Also screening the first week: Molly's Girl, about a young woman who finds a one-nighter with a gay-marriage activist may be turning serious; Naked as We Came, a melodrama about a troubled family and one hot groundskeeper; Mary Lou, an Israeli TV mini-series (which has been favorably compared to Glee) about a man searching for his mother; and Shorts Programs for men and women. 

All films screen at Harris Theater, Downtown. Single tickets are $9 (opening night is $25, closing night $15; both include parties); passes and student discounts are also available. See www.plgfs.org for complete schedule and more information.

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