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Palm Springs
Intl. Film Fest Wraps Up 

Palm Springs
Intl. Film Fest Wraps Up 

Showgirlsx390

The Palm Springs International Film Festival wrapped this weekend and brought to a close another sold-out festival packed with solid gay offerings.

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.

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.

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