The 12th anniversary QFest St. Louis returns to the Tivoli Theatre, April 28-May 2, 2019, with a marquee of sexy and ambitious LGBTQ titles.

 

QFest St. Louis uses the art of contemporary gay cinema to spotlight the lives of LGBTQ people and to celebrate queer culture. The event will excite, entertain, and enlighten audiences of all identities. Here's a preview of this year's films:

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019, 9 p.m.

Canary/Kanarie

Christiaan Olwagen, South Africa, 2018, 120 min., Afrikaans & English, narrative

 

“Canary” is a love story about removing the yoke of uniformity and finding individuality in a world of hatred, war, and oppression. Set in South Africa in 1985 — against the backdrop of apartheid — “Canary” is the coming-of-age story of Johan (Schalk Bezuidenhout), a shy and effeminate teen whose love of British new-wave music and Boy George has resulted in bullying in his small town. As part of his compulsory two-year military training, Johan is chosen for the South African Defence Force Choir and Concert Group, known as the Canaries, and he hopes the choir will serve as a way out of fighting on behalf of the brutal apartheid regime. But when he develops feelings for a fellow Canary while on tour, Johan soon recognizes the role he plays in the oppression and injustice that surround him. As he begins to question everything he knows about himself, Johan’s new awareness leads to a confrontation with his commanding officers.

Sponsored by Just John

 

 

Sunday, April 28, 2019, 3:30 p.m.

Dear Fredy

Rubi Gat, Israel, 2017, 74 min., Czech, English & Hebrew, documentary

 

Fredy Hirsch, a proud Jew and openly gay man, was born in Germany in 1916. When the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws were enacted in 1935, Hirsch fled from Germany to the Czech Republic, where he worked as a much admired sports teacher in a Jewish youth club. With the deportation of the Jews to Terezin — a combination of ghetto and concentration camp — Hirsch was appointed head of the Youth Services Department and helped care for more than 4,000 children and teens. Later, when he was sent to Auschwitz, Hirsch managed to persuade Josef Mengele to set up a daycare center, providing some 600 children their final moments of happiness. Ironically, it was in Auschwitz that Hirsch escaped homophobia for the first time in his life: He was out and had a lover, but people embraced Hirsch for his good work. Combining rare photographs, archival footage, witness testimony, and animation, “Dear Fredy” tells Hirsch’s amazing story, which includes planning a never-realized revolt with members of the underground in Auschwitz.

 

 

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 9 p.m.

Funeral Parade of Roses/Bara no sôretsu

Toshio Matsumoto, Japan, 1969, 105 min., Japanese, narrative, restoration

 

A key work of the Japanese New Wave and queer cinema, director Toshio Matsumoto’s shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960s. A headlong dive into a dazzling Tokyo night world of drag-queen bars and fabulous divas — fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art, and black mascara — “Funeral Parade of Roses” was cited by Stanley Kubrick as a direct influence on “A Clockwork Orange.” An unknown club dancer at the time, lead actor Peter ( Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran” ), aka Pîtâ, made an audacious debut in “Funeral Parade,” giving an astonishing performance as hot young thing Eddie. A hostess at Bar Genet, Eddie ignites a violent love triangle, competing with reigning drag queen Leda ( Osamu Ogasawara ) for the attentions of club owner Gonda (Kurosawa regular Yoshio Tsuchiya of “Seven Samurai” and “Yojimbo”). One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time in “Funeral Parade,” freely mixing documentary interviews, Brechtian film-within-a-film asides, Oedipal premonitions of disaster, his own avant-garde shorts, and even on-screen cartoon balloons into a dizzying whirl of image and sound.

 

 

Monday, April 29, 2019, 6:45 p.m.

Gen Silent

Stu Maddux, U.S., 2011, 70 min., documentary

Free (requires reservation)

 

In “Gen Silent,” six LGBTQ seniors discuss why they believe they must hide their sexual orientation to survive. The film reveals what experts call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender seniors who are so afraid of discrimination — or worse — in the delivery of their care that many go back into the closet. Through intimate access to the seniors’ day-to-day lives over the course of a year, “Gen Silent” shows how oppression in the time before Stonewall has left LGBTQ elders from the “greatest generation” not just afraid but dangerously isolated, with many dying prematurely because they don’t ask for help and have too few people in their lives. Although the film frankly examines the ways in which LGBTQ elders face discrimination, neglect, or abuse at the hands of some supposed caregivers, it also spotlights a growing group of impassioned professionals who are specifically trained to make LGBTQ seniors feel safe and who are trying to wake up the long-term-care and healthcare industries to this important issue. With a post-film

discussion.

Sponsored by AARP in St. Louis

 

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 5 p.m.

The Gospel of Eureka

Donal Mosher & Michael Palmieri, U.S., 2018, 75 min., documentary

Free

 

Eureka Springs, Ark., is a one-of-a-kind oasis in the Ozarks where Christian piety rubs shoulders with a thriving and open queer community. Known for its natural springs, the town serves as home to both the 1,500-foot concrete sculpture known as Christ of the Ozarks and a surprising number of gay resorts, B&Bs, bars, and businesses. Narrated with homespun humor by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, “The Gospel of Eureka” spotlights the space where the town’s seemingly contradictory factions intersect: Lee and Walter, the out and proud married owners of a local gay bar that they describe as a “hillbilly Studio 54,” talk about their deep-seated faith; a Christian T-shirt designer confesses his love for his gay father; and everything comes together in a show-stopping mashup of a spectacular Passion Play and raucous drag show. Variety enthuses: “ Here in this rhinestone on the Bible Belt, the filmmakers find that most residents just want to get along, despite loudmouths on the news rattling their sabers. This cheerful small-town portrait makes for an idealistic crowd-pleaser (after all, Eureka Springs is the rumored home of healing waters), but this beautiful, and beautifully shot, documentary is a cure for the angry headline blues.”

 

Shown with:

 

Grandmother and Me (Kat Cole, U.S., 2018, 7 min.): In this intimate documentary, the director creates a visual letter to her fiancé’s 100-year-old grandmother, exhuming long-kept secrets to capture the complexities of familial love and the subtle effects of transphobia in the home.

Sponsored by Robert Pohrer & Donnie Engle

 

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019, 7 p.m.

Halston

Frédéric Tcheng. U.S., 2019, 98 min., documentary

 

From Iowa to Studio 54 to Wall Street, Halston lived an American dream. Prodigiously talented, he reigned over fashion in the 1970s, becoming a household name. “Halston” — which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival — captures the epic sweep of the life and times of the legendary designer, who wanted to “dress all of America.” Acclaimed filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng (“Dior and I”) expertly weaves rare archival footage and intimate interviews with Halston’s friends, family members, and collaborators, including Liza Minnelli, niece Lesley Frowick, filmmaker Joel Schumacher, and the Halstonettes. Tcheng frames Halston’s story as an investigation, using scripted scenes featuring actress and writer Tavi Gevinson as a young archivist diving into the Halston company records. The film goes behind the headlines and into the thrilling struggle between Halston’s artistic legacy and the pressures of big business. America’s first superstar designer, Halston created an empire and personified the dramatic social and sexual revolution of the last century. Moving beyond Halston’s embodiment of 1970s glamour, Tcheng reveals Halston’s impact on fashion, culture, and business. Screen International writes: “‘Halston’ is tailor-made for fashionistas. Frédéric Tcheng's breezy docudrama offers a serious assessment of the fashion designer's achievements, accessorised with enough gossip, conflict and celebrity to attract a wider audience.”

 

 

Monday, April 29, 2019, 9 p.m.

Hard Paint/Tinta Bruta

Filipe Matzembacher & Marcio Reolon, Brazil, 2018, 118 min., Portuguese, narrative

 

Living in a lower-class urban jungle in a small Brazilian city, emotionally withdrawn Pedro (Shico Menegat) connects to the outside world as “Neon Boy,” an online erotic performer whose neon-paint-slathered, black-light dances have won him a cadre of adoring fans. By performing each night for these anonymous strangers, Pedro earns a meager income through tips and partially escapes his

lonely existence. But Pedro faces an existential threat when a fellow camboy steals both his techniques and some of his customers, forcing the ultra-shy twentysomething to venture far outside his comfort zone to defend his space as a performer. In the process, Pedro discovers a shared connection with his rival, the outgoing and ambitious Leo (Bruno Fernandes) , and he finds an unexpected tenderness in the heart of an unforgiving city. On its premiere at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, the Hollywood Reporter described “Hard Paint” as “ a hypnotically intimate character study” that is “acted with naturalness and sensitivity by compelling screen newcomers.”

 

 

Monday, April 29, 2019, 5 p.m.

Holly Near: Singing for Our Lives

Jim Brown, U.S., 2018, 62 min., documentary

Free

 

Singer, songwriter, and social activist Holly Near has been performing and acting for more than 50 years, and in the process she’s created what Gloria Steinem calls “the first soundtrack of the women’s movement.” Tracing a path from small-town Northern California to sold-out shows and million-person peace marches, the film documents the long arc of Near’s fascinating story. As a teen actress, she joined the Broadway cast of “Hair” in 1970, guest-starred in TV shows (including “The Partridge Family” and “All in the Family”), and appeared in such films as “Minnie and Moskowitz” and “Slaughterhouse-Five.” Debuting as a singer/songwriter in 1973 with the album “Hang in There” — released on her own pioneering independent label — Near last year produced her 31st record, the simply titled “2018.” Throughout her career, Near has balanced art and activism, and she’s been widely recognized for her work promoting social change and LGBTQ rights, including honors from the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, and Ms. Magazine. This lively and illuminating documentary, which features appearances by Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Pete Seeger, rightly celebrates Near as an iconic artist who speaks to anyone who believes in peace, justice, feminism, and humanity.

Sponsored by Robert Pohrer & Donnie Engle

 

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 9 p.m.

Knife+Heart/ Un couteau dans le coeur

Yann Gonzalez, France, 2018, 110 min., French, narrative

 

Set in the gay underworld of 1979 Paris, Yann Gonzalez’s sexy and murderous “Knife+Heart” follows Anne (Vanessa Paradis), a porn producer coping with heartbreak who is thrust into a lurid mystery after her actors, one by one, begin to fall victim to a leather-clad masked killer. With her relationship to her lover and colleague (Kate Moran) on the rocks and the police unwilling to mount a proper investigation, Anne finds herself alone as she pursues a small lead through dark forests and seedy film sets, encountering along the way a slate of outlandish characters, from a deformed ornithologist to a phantasmal, grief-stricken mother. With a pulsing, sensuous score by French band M83 (of which director Gonzalez is a former member), the film is both a celebration of ecstatic, unrestrained hedonism and a macabre descent into the psychosexual realm of transgression and the violent reactions it so often provokes. This stylish thriller premiered at 2018 Cannes Film Festival and has been nominated for nearly two dozen international awards. Lead actress Paradis (“The Girl on the Bridge’) turns in a soulful, dark performance as her world is literally cut to pieces. Selecting the film as a New York Times Critic’s Pick, writer Glenn Kenny says that “Knife+Heart” “packs in plenty of cinema acrobatics and spectacle without ever feeling out of control” and calls the film “an apt, and not at all unserious, example of queer cinema at its most playful.”

 

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 7 PM p.m.

Making Montgomery Clift

Robert Anderson Clift & Hillary Demmon, U.S., 2018, 88 min., documentary

 

Montgomery “Monty” Clift was one of the most influential actors in the history of cinema, starring in such iconic films as “Red River,” “The Misfits,” “From Here to Eternity,” “A Place in the Sun,” “Judgment at Nuremberg,” “Suddenly, Last Summer,” “I Confess,” “The Heiress,” and “Raintree County.” Clift bucked traditions on and off screen, but countless biographies have reduced him to labels like “tragically self-destructive” and “tormented,” describing him as a self-loathing, closeted alcoholic whose repressed sexuality led him to “the slowest suicide in Hollywood history.” In “Making Montgomery Clift,” nephew Robert Anderson Clift and Hillary Demmon rigorously examine the flawed narratives that have come to define Monty’s legacy. Drawing on interviews with family members and loved ones and a rich collection of unreleased archival materials from Monty and his brother, Brooks Clift, this fresh portrait of the actor’s passions, contributions, and commitment to living and working in his own way gives one of Hollywood’s underappreciated legends his due. Seattle’s The Stranger writes: “ The documentary manages to be not only a strikingly honest take on Clift but also a moving exploration of a lost relative and a meta-analysis of the ways media creates a biography.”

 

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019, 5 p.m.

Queer Shorts 1: Ready or Not, Out I Come

87 min., narrative shorts

Free

 

Clothes & Blow (Sam Peter Jackson, U.K., 2018, 23 min.): An American voice-over actor living in London is bored by demanding client calls and awkward Grindr meetups, and when his mother decides to visit unexpectedly, he is forced to re-evaluate how fully and authentically he is really living his life.

 

Home Girl (Poonam Brah, U.K., 2018, 12 min.): Roya, a British Muslim woman whose mother has just died, discovers after the funeral that her “hidden” relationship with another woman was no secret.

 

How to Be O.K. (Graham Halstead, U.S., 2018, 13 min.): After an awkward coming-out confession to his conservative grandfather, a young man tries to figure out how to live in his own skin.

 

Misdirection (Carly Usdin, U.S., 2018, 14 min.): Camila, a college freshman with obsessive-compulsive disorder and a gay crush on her roommate, has a chance encounter with a street magician and learns to open her heart to new possibilities.

 

Sammy the Salmon (Jake Shannon, Australia, 2018, 7 min.): Unable to pluck up the courage to tell his girlfriend he’s gay, Spencer comes across a talking salmon who offers to get his love life back on track.

 

Sequins (Michael Beddoes, U.K., 2019, 18 min.): A chance encounter with a jaded drag queen sets 17-year-old Paul — a wannabe drag performer — on a collision course with his parents, bullies, and the school talent show.

Sponsored by Robert Pohrer & Donnie Engle

 

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 5 p.m.

Queer Shorts 2: Mixed Perspectives

88 min., narrative shorts

Free

 

Engaged (David Scala, U.S., 2018, 17 min.): Darren keeps trying — and failing — to propose to his boyfriend, and when their relationship is put into an uncomfortable spotlight during a friend’s outrageous engagement party, he recognizes unresolved insecurities about his sexuality.

 

Heather Has Four Moms (Jeanette Buck, U.S., 2018, 14 min.): In this a mother-daughter story — times four — when Heather decides to lose her virginity for her 15th birthday, her mother’s wife must convince not just mom but also mom’s ex and her current partner that it’s time for Heather to have “the talk.”

 

Land’s End (Ben Strebel, U.K., 2018, 20 min.): Set on England’s bleak southeast coast, the film follows the magnetic relationship between a naïve but hopeful young man and a charismatic ex-con and drag artist.

 

The Orphan/O Órfão (Carolina Markowicz, Brazil, 2018, 15 min., Portuguese): In this story inspired by true events, Jonathas is adopted but then returned to the orphanage more than once because of his “different” ways.

 

Parking (Ahmad Seyfipour, Iran, 2018, 9 min., Farsi): When two men having sex in the backseat of a car are robbed, they can’t call the police: The thief will receive only a few months in jail, but the men could be sentenced to death for being gay.

 

ruok (Jay Russell, U.S., 2018, 13 min.): Best friends Alex and Bryan have a bitter fight — entirely via text message — when one of them sleeps with the other one’s crush.

Sponsored by Robert Pohrer & Donnie Engle

 

Sunday, April 28, 2019, 8 p.m.

Sorry Angel/Plaire, aimer et courir vite

Christophe Honoré, France, 2018, 132 min., French, narrative

From acclaimed writer/director Christophe Honoré (“Love Songs,” “Dans Paris”)

 

“Sorry Angel” — which premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival — is a heartbreaking film that offers a mature and deeply emotional reflection on love and loss, youth and aging. In 1993, Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps), a writer and single father in his 30s, is trying to maintain his sense of romance and humor in spite of health issues and the turmoil in his life and the world. While on a work trip to Brittany, he meets Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), an aspiring filmmaker in his early 20s. Experiencing a sexual awakening and eager to escape his parochial life, Arthur becomes instantly smitten with the older man. A final side to the triangle is added in Mathieu (Denis Podalydès), Jacques’ forty-something Paris neighbor. An inter-generational snapshot of cruising, courtship, and casual sex amid the rising worldwide AIDS crisis, “Sorry Angel” balances hope for the future with agony over the past, providing an unforgettable drama about finding the courage to love in the moment. The LA Times writes: “ Among other things, ‘Sorry Angel’ is a lovingly detailed affirmation of gay male identity, albeit one that never feels as diagrammed or predetermined as that description.”

 

 

Sunday, April 28, 2019, 1 p.m.

TransGeek

Kevin McCarthy & Sayer Johnson, U.S., 2018, 82 min., documentary

Free

 

“TransGeek” brings together the stories of transgender people working in the tech industry and participating in geek culture. The film documents people who, in pursuit of their passions, risked their careers and lives to be their authentic selves; who persevered in an industry that undervalues women, LGBTQ folk, and people of color; who found themselves in the pages of science fiction and fantasy or, when they didn't see themselves represented, wrote their own stories; and who turned to the Internet to build communities that transcend geography and bigotry only to find themselves again the target of hatred and harassment. “TransGeek” allows transgender people to tell their own stories in their own voices, using in-depth interviews conducted over a period of several years to explore the lives, hobbies, politics, careers, and thoughts of transgender geeks. The film features an original score composed by Zoë Blade, a British electronic musician and transgender woman. With co-directors McCarthy and Sayer, crew members, and subjects.

Sponsored by Robert Pohrer & Donnie Engle

 

 

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 7 p.m.

Tucked

Jamie Patterson, U.K., 2018, 80 min., narrative

 

A feel-good film with abundant charm and humor, “Tucked” offers insight into the evolving understanding of gender identity across generations. When 80-year-old drag queen Jackie Collins (Derren Nesbitt) receives a bleak diagnosis — he has only six weeks to live — all he wants to do is perform his long-running act and behave as if everything is perfectly normal. But between a surprising new friendship with a rising young queen (Jordan Stephens) and unfinished business with his estranged daughter (April Pearson), Jackie may just have the most eventful month-and-a-half of his life. A moving exploration of love, loss, and the true meaning of friendship, “Tucked” won both the audience award and the jury prize for best international film at last year’s Outfest in LA. Mesmerizing lead Nesbitt has enjoyed a decades-long career on British television and, in younger days, appeared in such Hollywood films as “The Naked Runner,” where he co-starred with Frank Sinatra, and “Where Eagles Dare,” where he memorably faced off against Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton.

 

 

Sunday, April 28, 2019 5:30 p.m.

Vita & Virginia

Chanya Button, U.K., 2018, 110 min., narrative

 

When aristocratic socialite and writer Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) first espies Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) in Bloomsbury, London, she immediately vows to pursue the famous novelist — thus starting one of the most notorious and convention-shattering love affairs in literary history. This sensuous and highly literate love story — which would eventually result in Woolf’s landmark novel “Orlando,” whose androgynous, gender-bending title character was based on Vita — draws heavily on the letters the two married women exchanged. With its lavish costumes and seductive settings, “Vita & Virginia” transports viewers into a past that seems a century ahead of its time. Lauding Debicki’s “astonishing performance,” Variety writes: “With her as the lodestar, this is a stranger and more intriguing film than it really has a right to be, one that becomes less about a clandestine courtship between famous women, and more about Woolf’s relationship with her writing, and with the workings of her own beautiful, restless mind.” Isabella Rossellini co-stars as Vida’s stern mother-in-law, Lady Sackville.

Sponsored by Cindy Walker

 

 

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