One of the highlights of the fall film season in Washington is the annual D.C. Shorts Film Festival (Sept. 19-29).
Under the direction of openly gay filmmaker Jon Gann, the 10th festival (dcshorts.com) features 150 movies all less than 20 minutes long. Films will be shown in six venues throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia and events include a DIY online festival, free weekday lunchtime screenings, free weekend family screenings, a screenwriting competition and parties where attendees can mingle with filmmakers from around the world. LGBT films in the festival include the animated “Sufferin’ Till You’re Straight,” described as Schoolhouse Rocks meets the Stonewall Riots, “Gay 4 Pay” and “Legal Stranger.”
“Afternoon Delight” opens today at Landmark’s E Street Cinema (landmarktheatres.com) and features out actress Jane Lynch in a film about a woman’s sexual awakening in a sexless marriage.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz,” a completely remastered version of the movie in IMAX and 3D will open for a limited engagement on Sept. 20. Producers promise that the new edition will “create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.”
Speaking of Old Hollywood, the series “Joan Crawford: Queen of the Silver Screen” opens Sept. 23 in the Helen Hayes Gallery at National Theatre (thenationaldc.com). It’s free, runs each Monday through Nov. 25 and features classics like “Grand Hotel,” “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” “Mildred Pierce,” Humoresque” and more.
Stuart Blumberg, screenwriter of the lesbian-themed “The Kids Are All Right,” makes his directorial debut with “Thanks for Sharing” (Sept. 20). A romantic comedy about three men (Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad) who meet while attending 12-step meetings for sex addicts, the movie also features a performance by singer and actress Alicia “Pink” Moore.
Also on Sept. 20, D.C. fans of openly gay writer David Sedaris will be treated to the first film adaptation of the humorist’s work. Based on Sedaris’ essay “C.O.G.” from his book “Naked,” the movie tells the story of a pompous Yale grad named David whose world is shaken when he travels to Oregon to pick apples and “see how the other half lives.” Written and directed by out filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez, “C.O.G.” stars openly gay actors Jonathan Groff (television’s “Glee” and Broadway’s “Spring Awakening”) and Dennis O’Hare (television’s “American Horror Story” and “Take Me Out on Broadway”). Sedaris is slated to be in D.C. on Oct. 18 for a performance at the G.W. Lisner Auditorium.
Marta Cunningham’s moving documentary “Valentine Road” makes its HBO debut on Oct. 7. The film unravels the complicated circumstances surrounding the 2008 shooting of eighth grader Larry King at the hands of his classmate Brandon McInenery and tells the story of two troubled and abused teenagers searching for a sense of belonging.
Fans of Lady Gaga can rejoice when the pop goddess makes her acting debut in Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete Kills” on Oct. 11. Gaga appears as La Chameleón in the sequel to 2010’s campy “Machete,” part of a star-studded cast that also includes Cuba Gooding, Jr. as El Cameleón, Sofia Vergera (“Modern Family”), Jessica Alba, Vanessa Hudgens, Charlie Sheen (billed as Carlos Estevez), Mel Gibson and Danny Trejo as Machete.
Literary biopic meets murder mystery in “Kill Your Darlings,” slated for national release on Oct. 16. It’s 1944 in New York City and the artists who will become the founding fathers of Beat movement (Daniel Radcliffe as Alan Ginsberg, Ben Foster as William Burroughs and Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac) meet at Columbia University and are arrested as suspects in the murder of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) who has been stalking their charismatic classmate Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan).
Just in time for Halloween, lesbian director Kimberly Pierce, the award-winning creator of “Boys Don’t Cry,” returns to the big screen with a fresh look at Stephen King’s classic horror story, “Carrie.” The script is by openly gay playwright and D.C. native Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whose wildly diverse career includes Broadway’s “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark,” the television series “Glee” and “Big Love,” the Fantastic Four comics for Marvel and a comic book adaptation of the Stephen King novel “The Stand.” Rising star Chloë Grace Moretz tackles the title role and queer favorite Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s abusive mother Margaret White. As can be expected, Pierce promises to bring a queer subtext to the well-known story of high-school bullying, religious repression and paranormal powers. “Carrie” opens Oct. 18.
This year, the theme of the Fall Film Series at Anne Arundel Community College is “LGBT – Themes and Issues.” Sponsored by the college’s Women’s Initiative, the free screenings include “Small Town Gay Bar,” “Fagbug” and “XXY.” The schedule is available online at aacc.edu/women.
Reel Affirmations (oneinten.com) will offer a variety of LGBT film events this fall. On Oct. 19, there will be a screening of “Wildness” by Wu Tsang, a documentary portrait of the Silver Platter, a historic Los Angeles bar popular among the city’s Latin and LGBT communities. Chad Durnell’s “Birthday Cake,” showing Nov. 8, is a feature-length follow-up to the popular short “Groom’s Cake” and celebrates Daniel and Steven’s first anniversary and the first birthday of their baby. Finally, the group will mark World Aids Day with a day-long HIV/AIDS film series on Nov. 30.
HIV medications are at the center of the (loosely) fact-based “Dallas Buyers Club,” which opens Nov. 1. Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a straight, homophobic drug user who was diagnosed with AIDS. With the help of Rayon, an HIV-positive transgender woman played by Jared Leto, he takes on the FDA and smuggles alternative AIDS drugs over the border from Mexico.
Finally, a number of fine indie LGBT movies are slowly making their way across the country at art houses and film festivals. Some of these recent releases include “Big Gay Love,” a comedy starring the talented Jonathan Lisecki; “Concussion,” about a lesbian housewife whose world is changed when she is hit by a stray baseball; “Out in the Dark,” about an affair between a Palestinian student and an Israeli lawyer; and “Blue is the Warmest Color,” a sizzling lesbian coming-of-age story from France. Hopefully some of them will find a venue in D.C. this fall.