Offering 13 days of 176 individual screenings of 54 features, 15 documentaries, 103 shorts, six world premieres of feature films (and several world premieres of shorts), and welcoming over 60 guest filmmakers, the Eighth Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival ended July 23 with new records in attendance figures and sell-out screenings, and the presentation of nine Festival awards. The Festival attracted 26,373 people from around the country, an increase of over 600 from last year, once again securing its standing as the largest gay and lesbian film festival in the eastern United States, and the third largest in the country, following San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This year, the films paid special attention to the shifting attitudes toward sexual identity, the expanding concept of “family,” the conflict between faith and religion, and the rich legacy of the community’s past.
Twenty-nine screenings sold out, including The Trip, The Business of Fancydancing and Notorious C.H.O..
Before a screening of The Trip, Greater Philadelphia Film Office Executive Director Sharon Pinkenson and Mr. Cardwell presented five Jury and four HBO Audience Awards. The Jury Awards were selected by a committee of 13 members, co-chaired by Amanda Leahy and Anthony Mastanduno. The winners were:
Feature-Gay Male: “Happy Birthday”, a poignant character study of five people, by Malaysian-born Yen Tan.
Feature-Lesbian: By Hook or by Crook, an underworld lesbian buddy film, by Harry Dodge and Silas Howard.
Documentary: “Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay”, a profile on the gay rights pioneer, by Eric Slade.
Short-Gay Male: “Sexy”, an animated poem on what is hot, by Tom Whitman and Dustin Woehrmann.
Short-Lesbian: Stuck, a comedy about being trapped in a relationship gone bad, by Jamie Babbit.
The four HBO Audience Awards were determined by thousands of ballots filled out by filmgoers as they left all screenings, except for Opening and Closing Nights. Winners receive cash prizes, thanks to the generosity of HBO:
Feature ($1,000): The Business of Fancydancing, a gay Native-American poet returns to the reservation for a friend’s funeral and faces resentment by friends for having left, by Sherman Alexie, based on his own poetry.
Documentary ($500): “Ruth and Connie: Every Room in the House”, the story of a lesbian activist couple who won spousal benefits from the City of New York, by Deborah Dickson.
Short-Lesbian (tie, $250 each): “Interviews With My Next Girlfriend”, a comedy by Cassandra Nicolaou of Canada AND “Watching You”, a romance from a distance by Israeli Stephanie Abramovich.
Short-Gay Male ($500): “Superfag”, a superhero with a rainbow cape, by Philadelphia native Kurt Koehler.
Visit the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival website for more festival highlights.