September 13, 2018 at 6:00 am EDT | by Brian T. Carney
FALL ARTS 2018 FILM: ‘Lizzie,’ ‘A Star is Born,’ ‘Boy Erased’ for starters
film festivals, gay news, Washington Blade

Nicole Kidman in ‘Boy Erased.’ (Photo courtesy Focus Features)

Some of D.C.’s coolest film festivals are already underway. The Smithsonian Theaters are hosting the “Totally 80’s Film Festival” at the Warner Bros. Theater. The DC Shorts Film Festival will be showing the “Best Of” showcases this weekend. The AFI Latin American Film Festival, running through Oct. 3, features lots of great LGBT content, including “Retablo”; “The Heiresses”; “Señorita María, La Falda de la Montaña,” a documentary about a trans woman living in a rural town in Colombia; and “Good Manners,” a Brazilian werewolf romance.

On Sept. 15, the amazing 48 Hour Film Project will hold a networking event for the 2018 Filmmaking Weekend which will be held from Oct. 12-14. Filmmakers from the region will compete to see who can make the best short film in only 48 hours. Required elements are revealed on Friday evening and teams submit their film on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, HBO is airing “Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age,” a controversial new documentary about searching for love on your smartphone. “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” a documentary about the legendary actress, activist and LGBT ally airs on Sept. 24.

The Hollywood fall movie season kicks off Sept. 14 with the release of “A Simple Favor” a comedy/thriller set among the PTA crowd. The movie stars Anna Kendrick (“Into the Woods” and the “Pitch Perfect” movies), Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and Blake Lively (“Gossip Girl”) and features out actor Andrew Rannells (“Girls” and Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon”) as a PTA dad.

Also opening Friday is “Pick of the Litter,” the family-friendly documentary about puppies training to be guide dogs for the blind.

D.C.’s LGBT film fans will face some difficult choices on Sept. 21. Some of the films opening are:

“Bel Canto,” a thriller starring Julianne Moore as a world-renowned opera singer who becomes trapped in a hostage situation; “Lizzie,” a retelling of the Lizzie Borden story with a lesbian twist starring Kristin Stewart and Chloë Sevigny; “Love, Gilda,” a documentary about the late comedian Gilda Radner; “Life Itself,” a drama about a young New York couple written and directed by Dan Fogelman (TV’s “This Is Us”) and starring Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas; “Fahrenheit 11/9,” Michael Moore’s provocative documentary about the Trump administration; and “The Children Act,” with Emma Thompson as hard-driven Justice Fiona Maye, Stanley Tucci as her long-suffering husband, and Fionn Whitehead as a young man whose life hangs in the balance.

Kristen Stewart and Chloë Sevigny in ‘Lizzie.’ (Photo by Eliza Morse; courtesy Roadside Attractions)

Another major film event scheduled for Sept. 21 is the one-night regional premiere of “Paternal Rites,” a deeply moving “film essay” by acclaimed Baltimore filmmaker Jules Rosskam. Filtered through Rosskam’s trans and queer subjectivities and inspired by filmmakers like Marlon Riggs and Jenni Olson and podcasts such as “Radio Lab” and “This American Life,” this highly personal documentary examines the secret underbelly of a contemporary Jewish-American family as they grapple with the aftereffects of physical and sexual abuse on their present-day lives. 

Nureyev: All the World His Stage,” a documentary about the gay man who has been called the best male ballet dancer of all time (he died in ’93), opens Sept. 25 and is said to feature avant garde and “very sexually provocative” previously unseen footage. 

Issues of creativity, gender, sexuality and professional jealousy are at the center of “Colette” (Sept. 28), starring Keira Knightley as the famous French author. Also opening that weekend are the documentary “Science Fair” and “The Old Man & the Gun,” an all-star heist movie with Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Watts and Tika Sumpter.

October brings the best of spooky cinema to area screens. Special programming at the creatively restored SNF Parkway in Baltimore (home of the Maryland Film Festival) includes “The Eyeslicer Halloween Special,” along with screenings of “The Candyman,” “The Shining,” “Beetlejuice” and “The Hills Have Eyes.” A home for independent and classic cinema, the fall calendar at the SNF Parkway also includes screenings of the homoerotic Hollywood classic “Spartacus” on September 20 and 22 as part of the “Kubrick 90: A Would-Be Birthday Retrospective.”

The Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market will celebrate “Hitchcocktober” by screening several classic Hitchcock movies including “Psycho,” “The 39 Steps” and the homoerotic thriller “Strangers on the Train.” Spooky programming at AFI will include the “Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival” (Oct. 4-7) and “Halloween on Screen” starting Oct. 26. The Landmark E Street Cinema marks the holiday with special screening of “CinEinsomnia: A Very RHPS Halloween” Oct. 26-28.

Finally, the “Halloween” franchise returns for a final installment. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode for one last battle with Michael Myers on Oct. 19.

October (and November) also mark the return of several excellent regional film festivals. The Washington Jewish Film Festival begins its fall programming on Oct. 3; the Middleburg Film Festival starts on Oct. 18; and, Reel Affirmations, D.C.’s LGBT film festival returns on Nov. 1. Monthly screenings for Reel Affirmations include “ManMade,”(Sept. 28), “The Breeding” (Oct. 19) and the early AIDS drama “Buddies” on Dec. 6.

The most highly anticipated release of the fall season is undoubtedly the fourth version of the Hollywood classic “A Star Is Born.” Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a country singer who mentors a young singer named Ally (Lady Gaga). As her career skyrockets, his career fizzles in a downward spiral fueled by alcohol and age.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in ‘A Star is Born.’ (Photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

LGBT audiences will also be drawn to two other movies opening that day: “Tea with the Dames,” a documentary featuring interviews with Dames Eileen Atkins, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Joan Plowright; and “The Happy Prince,” an Oscar Wilde biopic written and directed by openly gay actor Rupert Everett who also stars with Colin Firth and Emily Watson.

Some of the other LGBT releases on the schedule for D.C. theaters include “1985” (Oct. 26) about a closeted young man (Cory Michael Smith) who visits his family to discus his sexuality and his health; “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Nov. 2) about openly gay singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and his Queen bandmates; and “Boy Erased” (Nov. 2), a drama about conversion therapy starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe and featuring Joel Edgerton (who also wrote and directed), Cherry Jones, singer Troye Sivan and filmmaker Xavier Dolan; and, “Suspiria,” a film about the mysterious happenings at a Berlin dance company directed by Luca Guadagnino (“A Bigger Splash,” “Call Me By Your Name”), starring Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Tilda Swinton.

Some of the other releases to be on the lookout for include “Beautiful Boy” starring Timothée Chalamet (Oct. 12); family drama “What They Had” starring Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon and Blythe Danner (Oct. 26); “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” starring Melissa McCarthy in a well-received dramatic role (Oct. 26); “Widows,” a crime drama starring Viola Davis; and Eddie Redmayne in the Harry Potter-adjacent “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” 

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