Most film festivals, suffering from weak submissions -- and, therefore, weak programmes -- need a strong closing night film to leave a palatable taste in theatre-goers' mouths. As for a weak film, a solid ending can save the experience and leave audiences with that false impression of two hours or a week well-spent.
Approaching it's own finale on July 22nd -- the awaited Were the World Mine, a homoerotically-charged and naughty-looking riff on A Midsummer Night's Dream -- the annual Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival doesn't really need to use that trick.
Opening with Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!, the camp factor got covered early on, making room for more experimental works (like porn/art film director Bruce LaBruce'sOtto: Or, Up With Dead People, a gay meta-zombie flick) and tried festival-circuit favorites (like Breakfast with Scot, about a closeted ex-hockey pro and his lawyer partner building a family). Even a few of the shorts were good -- particularly the hilarious Australian Prada Handbag, about an eponymous female drag queen.
Documentaries also showed impressive range in this 14-day festival. Squeezebox, which had a decent run at the TriBeCa Film Festival earlier this year, romped through the last days of the eponymous queer glam-trash party with great footage of Blondie, John Waters and the like rocking out to Miss Guy DJ-ing NYC's queer underground's last hurrah.
Transvestites Also Cry, compiled from three years of footage of Ecuadorian transsexuals living and working illegally (usually as prostitutes) in Paris, is also strong for its characters, if formulaic.
Well-planned, the screenings and parties take place almost entirely within the boundaries of the local Philadelphia gayborhood, where incredibly helpful and attitude-free queer folks populate a surprising array of gay boutique hotels, bars and clubs. But beware! Even Woody's, made famous in Queer As Folk, closes by 2am and everyone packs into Pure, the local after-hours club, open until 3am.