By Michael Gold
The Baltimore Sun
3:35 PM EST, January 16, 2014
The Sundance Film Festival kicks off in Park City, Utah, Jan. 16, which means a handful of LGBT-related movies will be making their premieres. Whether these flicks get picked up for distribution in theaters is another question entirely. But in the interest of being prepared, here's a look at a few of the festival's LGBT-focused offerings.
"Love Is Strange": Director Ira Sachs' semi-autobiographical "Keep the Lights On" was a brutally honest film about an ill-fated gay relationship. The movie, which premiered at Sundance to strong reviews in 2012, was by far one of the best films about connection (and then disconnection) in some time. At this year's festival, he'll premiere "Love Is Strange," starring John Lithgow as a Catholic school choir director who gets fired following his same-sex wedding.
"The Case Against 8": It was more than five years ago that Californians overturned the legalization of same-sex marriage by passing Proposition 8. The law was overturned last June after a protracted legal battle, the details of which were largely obscured as the case achieved landmark status en route to the Supreme Court. Directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White had their camera rolling basically the entire time and have put together a documentary that follows the case's progress and, by extension, the changing tide of attitudes on same-sex marriage.
"52 Tuesdays": Adolescence is inherently a time for change and upheaval, but 16-year-old Billie gets an extreme dose of both things in this Australian film. Billie's mother is planning to transition from female to male, which sends Billie from her mother's home to her father's. She and her mother meet every Tuesday while her mother transitions, which is sure to add another layer to an already complicated coming-of-age story.
"To be Takei": "Star Trek" actor George Takei had a relative career resurgence since coming out publicly in 2005, which (depending on who you ask) either spurred or was spurred by his outspoken advocacy for LGBT rights. Jennifer Kroot's documentary looks more closely at Takei's personal life, from earlier years in a Japanese-American internment camp to the activism now energizing him in his twilight years.
"The Foxy Merkins": Truth be told, I'd go see this one on name alone. The plot of this comedy's an added bonus: Two lesbian hookers (one apparently identifies herself as heterosexual) hit the streets together in what Sundance alls "an outrageous urban adventure." Sign me up.
"Lilting": Ben Whishaw ("Skyfall," "Cloud Atlas") stars as Richard, the boyfriend of a young Londoner who suddenly dies. In the wake of profound loss, he tries to connect with his boyfriend's mother, a Chinese-Cambodian woman in an assisted-living home who has little interest in talking. With the help of a translator, the two attempt to surmount a cross-cultural and generational gap. Bring handkerchiefs or tissues.
"Appropriate Behavior": Shirin's Persian family has no idea she's bisexual, her ex-girlfriend is out of the picture and her brother's about to get married. Adding cultural specificity to a coming out story, director-star Desiree Akhavan's movie promises to offer a complex take on an already weighty issue.
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