It's a movie about overcoming inhibitions that challenges sexual boundaries and it contains a strangely erotic phone-sex masturbation scene that comically involves what to do with a spunky sock. So, yeah, it makes a certain amount of sense to 26-year-old gay filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez to premiere his first movie, Easier With Practice, in Las Vegas at the six-day 11th annual Cinevegas, which kicked off June 10.
"Vegas is a city that markets itself off of sex and sin, so having a film that does deal with sex in the way this one does seems to fit," said Alvarez, whose movie is based on a nonfiction essay in GQ by writer Davy Rothbart about his phone-only romance with a stranger named Nicole that climaxes in their eventual, surprising meeting. "The festival, like my film, is edgy in an interesting way."
Indeed, this year's Cinevegas is shaping as such a showcase for a remarkably diverse array of GLBT-themed pictures as well as a special honor for Jon Voight, this year's Marquee Award recipient for a body of work that includes, as his first major role, that of the naive male hustler in Midnight Cowboy . The lineup promises to be the queerest ever at Cinevegas and shows how far it's come since 2004, when the young event's gay quotient included a screening of the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely and a showing of Before Night Falls, about gay Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, in conjunction with honoring director Julian Schnabel.
"I think the film that's probably going to make the biggest splash at this year's festival for the gay community is the film Beautiful Darling ," said artistic director Trevor Groth, who doubles as programming director for the Sundance Film Festival. "It's a documentary about Candy Darling, the transgender actress who worked with Andy Warhol. She was an iconic figure in that day and I love seeing all the archival footage of the scene and the pop art and the glamour. I get swept up in it every time I see it and I think it's going to be a real discovery at the festival."