Palm Springs Intl. Film Fest Wraps Up 

By Shannon Connolly

Originally published on Advocate.com January 27 2009 1:00 AM ET

The Palm Springs
International Film Festival this year showcased multiple
films with gay themes and characters. Standout successes
included two documentaries --Showgirls and
For My Wife -- as well as the French romantic
comedy Baby Love. Other than having a gay theme
and meeting with overwhelming success at the filmfest's box
office, the LGBT-related films in the festival could
not have been more different from one another.

The life and
spirit of Provincetown, Mass., one of America’s most
gay-friendly towns, came to Palm Springs this year in the
form of the documentary ShowGirls, Pronvincetown,
MA,
directed by C. Fitz and produced by Monument
Television and Film Co. The film gave its capacity
audience a glimpse into the lives and performances of
a handful of eccentric and often charmingly untalented
participants in the ShowGirls talent show that
has been a Monday-night fixture in Provincetown for
more than a decade. Multiple drag queen acts, mixed in
with some stand-up comedy and quite a few completely
off-the-wall performances, kept audiences both in the film
and seated in the screening laughing with and often at
the participants onstage.

Despite its
lighthearted quality, ShowGirls sends a strong
message about the unique power of comedy to bring people
together: gay, straight, families, drag queens, performers,
and tourists alike participate in and enjoy
Showgirls every week in the summer. There is a
universality to the human condition that has the power
to unite, and in the post-Prop. 8 climate, it is a
moving theme to see on-screen. Ryan Landry, who runs
Showgirls, attended the premiere screening with
one of his most memorable performers -- drag queen
Della Catessen. The two were available after the screening,
along with director C. Fitz and coproducer Deb Schneider,
for a Q&A with the audience.

Also present at
the film festival was Charlene Strong, a woman whose
tragic story of losing her partner in a flash flood has
become a poignant and triumphant film that makes
personal the ever-current fight for marriage equality.
Her film, For My Wife, directed by David
Rothmiller, chronicles both the death of Charlene’s
partner, Kate Fleming, and Charlene’s instrumental
role in changing the domestic-partnership laws in
Washington State after Kate’s death. After
screenings at the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival,
where For My Wife won awards in multiple best-of
categories, the film was screened twice at the Palm Springs
festival to packed audiences, the majority of whom
left the theater tearful and inspired. 

 Baby Love x390 (publicity) | Advocate.com

And on the
international side, the French film Baby Love was a
gay-themed crowd-pleaser with subtitles. Having been
released in France this past fall with the original
title Comme les Autres, the film is now
beginning to make the rounds at festivals in the
United States.

Directed by
Vincent Garenq, Baby Love chronicles the
journey of a gay man named Manu who tries to circumvent
France's discriminatory restrictions on adoption by
gays in order to have a child. Following
him from attempting to trick an adoption agent
into believing that he is straight to interviewing lesbian
couples to carry his child to eventually forming an
agreement with a female friend to have a child
together, the film is at once a charming romantic
comedy and a strong political statement.

Although somewhat
formulaic in terms of style and plot development,
overall the film gives its audience a clear education on
France's current laws regarding adoption by same-sex
couples. The film also made the Palm Springs
festival’s Best of the Fest list, which was announced
Monday, following the weekend screenings.

Among the other
notable LGBT-themed films screened at the festival were BeLike Others; Clapham Junction; I Can’t Think
Straight; Patrik, Age 1.5;
and Pedro.