LGBT storytelling explodes on the screen during this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival. Stirring films shown at the 2013 event, Jan. 3-14. includes an impressive selection of work from foreign and USA-based filmmakers.
Fresh from the Phillipines, Bwakaw is directed by Jun Robles Lana and tells the story of a cantankerous gay man who comes out late in life. The life-affirming dramady is already garnering significant Best Foreign Film Oscar buzz.
Another film creating a stir among the Academy is A Trip. The Slovenian film by Nejc Gazvoda chronicles the adventures and misadventures of temperamental beauty Ziva, built soldier Gregor and tart-tongued gay guy Andrej as the trio takes off for the seaside. This honest, touching “road movie” has already won six Slovenian film awards. Can an Oscar be far behind?
In Soongava: Dance of the Orchids, from Nepal, beautiful Diya dreams of becoming a professional dancer. But when she breaks off her engagement to a man and moves in with her female lover—a direct threat to Napalese tradition and family honor—she discovers that discrimination is only the beginning of her troubles.
This year’s films in general reflect a fresh approach to storytelling, according to Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. The gay-themed film Una Noche is an example of this fresh approach to storytelling. Lucy Mulloy’s riveting film follows the lives of Elio and his twin sister, Lila—who suspects that her brother is planning to take off with sexy but dangerous coworker Raul on a trek to escape from Cuba via a makeshift raft. It’s an award-winning film that blurs genres Elio’s twin sister, Lila, begins to suspect that her brother is planning to take off with his sexy, volatile coworker Raul on a dangerous bid to escape Cuba on a makeshift raft. This vibrant, sophisticated, and emotionally intense film blurs the lines of traditional genres.
“It keeps you off balance,” Macdonald says about the family drama-turned-true-crime-turned-thriller from Cuba.
LGBT films of note from the USA include I Do (USA), directed Glenn Gaylord about a man who is raising his niece after the tragic death of his brother, who considers a “green card” marriage after his work visa runs out—that is until he falls in love with another man. Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean by Matthew Mishory, which blends black and white and color imagery in a story that considers what the pre-fame days of cinematic icon James Dean in all his bisexual glory. Inspired by facts, and maybe some fictions, about Dean’s short, tragic life, the movie is a poetic rumination on the dream of being a star and its subsequent costs. Director Jim Hubbard presents the documentary United in Anger: A History of Act Up.
For a complete list of films and schedules, visit