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September 28, 2012, Screens

Call Me Kuchu

Documentary Feature
D: Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall

In Uganda, progressive attitudes are slower to develop than the economy. Filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall document the underground LGBT community in the African country, where homosexuality is not only deemed ungodly, but unlawful. The local tabloid publishes photos of local gays and calls for their hanging, while the government mounts legislation that would condemn them to life in prison. This doc closely follows the efforts of David Kato and fellow activists as they build a human rights case in the courts and in the press. For these "kuchus," gay rights mean more than equality – they mean survival. The film traces with affecting sensitivity the emotional (and occasionally physical) turmoil of these Ugandan gays, and its tragic, teary closing moments are set against a flashpoint in the global struggle for gay rights. – Aleksander Chan

Friday, Oct. 5, 6:30pm, Paramount

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same

Narrative Feature
D: Madeleine Olnek; with Lisa Haas, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan, Alex Karpovsky

Apparently, when inhabitants of the planet Zots are spurned by love, the "big feelings" they have emit the equivalent of cow farts here on Earth, wreaking similar havoc on their ozone. A program is instituted to send these bitter hearts (aka lesbians) to our world to find love and really obliterate their aortas so they can never love again, because, as anybody who's ever dated one knows, Earth girls ain't that easy. Director Olnek knows how alien lady-love can be and manages to nail its quirks and quasars in this silly send-up of intergalactic B-movies, complete with pie-tin spacecraft and doughnut-eating Men in Black. When stoic Zoinx (Ziegler) meets shy shop clerk Jane (Haas), their nervous, nerdy dynamic is written in the stars. The portrayals of robotic, bald-pated lesbians (especially Jackie Monahan's Shane-like player Zylar) resonate as positively down-to-Earth. – Kate X Messer

Saturday, Oct. 6, 9:30pm, Alamo Ritz

Heavy Girls (Dicke Mädchen)

Narrative Feature
D: Axel Ranisch; with Heiko Pinkowski, Peter Trabner, Ruth Bickelhaupt

Heavy Girls has the sort of no-budget naturalism endemic in the post-mumblecore indie landscape. But where most films use single cameras for grit, Heavy fills every frame with intimacy. Most surprisingly, it does so by subverting romantic comedy's well-worn tropes. Lead character Sven (Pinkowski) replaces the genre's beleaguered heroines as a portly middle-aged man who shares an apartment and bed with his ailing mother, Edeltraut (brilliantly inhabited by Bickelhaupt, the director's great-grandmother). Sven's day-to-day monotony is interrupted by Mom's handsome caretaker Daniel (Trabner). A screwball bit of mischief leads to the two men searching the streets of Berlin for the AWOL Edeltraut and tentatively falling in love. As in all rom-coms, there are complications. But stripped of flickering set-pieces, Heavy achieves a tenderness lost in Hollywood's swelling strings and ham-fisted machinations. It's the rarest of cinematic feats, achieving the sugar-rush of love without empty calories. – Brandon Watson

Saturday, Oct. 6, 1:30pm, Alamo Ritz

Remington and the Curse 0x000Aof the Zombadings

Narrative Feature
D: Jade Castro; with Mart Escudero, Lauren Young, Kerbie Zamora, Janice de Belen

In a small town outside of Manila, a young boy tests the old Filipino urban myth that if you taunt enough homosexuals, one of them will end up having magical powers and curse you to become gay as an adult. While not an actual urban legend, it sets up this tale of supernatural mishaps and super-duper campy stereotypes with the now-adult Remington (Escudero) at the center. When he finds his masculinity cracking and a swishy queen peaking through, Remington finds the task of wooing Hannah increasingly problematic. Add to that a serial killer with an anti-gay ray gun, a kid who can resurrect people as gay zombies (zombadings), and you have what you need for a proper romp. – James Renovitch

Thursday, Oct. 4, 7pm, Alamo Ritz

Sunset Stories

Narrative Feature
D: Silas Howard and Ernesto Foronda; with Monique Gabriela Curnen, Sung Kang, Joshua Leonard, Mousa Kraish, Jim Parsons, Zosia Mamet, Justin Vivian Bond

A character-driven ensemble following a one-night-in-L.A. romp in the vein of NYC-treks like After Hours and Desperately Seeking Susan, this bighearted comedy follows the Family Circus-style pursuit of a lost ice cooler loaded with human tissue that nurse May (Curnen) has fetched from L.A. to bring back to the kids in the hospital ward in Boston, where she now works. The audience follows both May and the cooler as it makes its way from taco truck to dumpster to ... well, let's not give too much away. It's a gem of a festival sleeper, this, packed with great curation: from the actors to the soundtrack to the director of photography (Austin's PJ Raval) to the animator (the brilliant Giles Timms) to the poster artist (Austin's Yen Tan) to its mission to cast outside the dominant paradigms and portray those of us characters who do not fit within the strictures of Hollywood expectations as the real people, with real lives, we are. [This piece has been adapted from the March 14 blog post "Before Sunset (Stories)."] – Kate X Messer

Saturday, Oct. 6, 4pm, Alamo Ritz

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