Like any 10-year-old, Salt Lake City’s Damn These Heels! LGBT Film Festival is experiencing a growth spurt.
This year’s festival, which runs July 12 to 14, will include 21 feature films from nine countries, organizers announced today. That’s more than double the films that played at last year’s festival. The festival is also expanding to both rooms of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City) — the Jeanne Wagner and Black Box theaters.
And for the first time, there will be an audience award. Festivalgoers can vote for their favorite films after each screening, and the top vote-getter will be announced the day after the festival, Monday, July 15, and screen at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at Brewvies Cinema Pub, 667 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City.
The opening-night film is “G.B.F.,” a high-school comedy directed by Darren Stein. It centers on Tanner (Michael J. Willett), who is outed by his classmates and discovers that “gay best friend” is the hottest fashion accessory among the girls at his school. The cast includes Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood from the “Harry Potter” films), Sasha Pieterse (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Megan Mullally.
The centerpiece film is “Laurence Anyways,” a drama from Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan (“Heartbeats”) about the 10-year relationship between a male-to-female transsexual (Melvil Poupaud) and her lover (Suzanne Clément).
The festival’s closing-night film is “I Am Divine,” Jeffrey Schwarz’ documentary about the life of Harris Glenn Milstead, who reinvented himself as Divine, international drag icon and John Waters’ greatest muse and leading lady.
Here’s the rest of the Damn These Heels! line-up:
• “Animals” • directed by Marcal Forés (Spain) • A coming-of-age thriller that blends reality and fantasy, about Pol, his teddy bear, and a new student with something to hide.
• “Ballroom Rules” • directed by Nickolas Bird and Eleanor Sharpe (Australia/Germany) • This documentary follows a group of Australian same-sex ballroom dancers battle homophobia, injury and personal drama as they try to compete in the Gay Games in Germany.
• “Bruno and Earlene Go to Vegas” • directed by Simon Savory (UK/USA/France) • A woman (Ashleigh Sumner) fleeing a bad situation encounters an Australian skater (Miles Szanto), and together they venture into the desert to find themselves.
• “Chastity Bites” • directed by John V. Knowles (USA) • In this horror comedy, a 500-year-old countess (Louise Griffiths), who has stayed young and beautiful by bathing in the blood of virgins, finds a perfect cover as an abstinence educator in a conservative American town — until she runs into a feminist high-school blogger (Allison Scagliotti, from “Warehouse 13”).
• “Continental” • directed by Malcolm Ingram (USA) • A documentary profile of Continental Baths, a noted gay hangout in New York from the late ‘60s until 1974.
• “Five Dances” • directed by Alan Brown (USA) • An 18-year-old dancer (Ryan Steele) tries to launch a career amid New York’s “downtown” modern dance scene in this drama.
• “Frauensee (Women’s Lake)” • directed by Zoltan Paul (Germany) • A middle-aged lesbian couple’s tenuous relationship is tested when two young female students from Berlin visit their lakeside land.
• “Free Fall (Freier Fall)” • directed by Stephen Lacant (Germany) • In this drama, a young cop’s career and family life are endangered when he meets and falls for a fellow policeman.
• “Geography Club” • directed by Gary Entin (USA) • Teens of varying sexual orientation form their own after-school club to discretely talk about their feelings and experiences. The cast includes Alex Newell (“Glee”), Nikki Blonsky (“Hairspray”), Meaghan Martin (“Camp Rock”), Scott Bakula and Ana Gasteyer.
• “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia” • directed by Nicholas D. Wrathall (USA) • An opinionated documentary, in which the late author and social commentator notes that a political coup has already happened and the right has triumphed over democracy.
• “Hot Guys With Guns” • directed by Doug Spearman (USA) • A take on the buddy-cop genre (think “Lethal Weapon”), if those cops were ex-boyfriends.
• “I Am a Woman Now” • directed by Michiel van Erp (The Netherlands) • The first generation of transsexuals — who received sex-change operations in Casablanca in the mid-’50s to 1960s, talk about their lives now in this documentary.
• “In Bloom” • directed by Chris Michael Birkmeier (USA) • During a tumultuous Chicago summer, as a neighborhood is terrorized by a serial killer, a young couple’s relationship falls apart in this drama.
• “Margarita” • directed by Dominque Cardona and Laurie Colbert (Canada) • A financially struggling couple fires their teen daughter’s Mexican lesbian nanny (Nicola Correia Damude), setting off a chain of events that lead to her deportation.
• “Peaches Does Herself” • directed by Peaches (Germany) • Peaches is star, creator and director of this extravagant rock opera, which she calls “The jukebox musical that got a sex change.”
• “The Rugby Player” • directed by Scott Gracheff (USA) • A documentary that parallels the lives of Mark Bingham, one of the passengers on United flight 93 on 9/11, and his mother, Alice Hoagland, a former United flight attendant.
• “Submerge” • directed by Sophie O’Connor (Australia) • A college swimmer (Lily Hall) begins a relationship with her tutor (Christina Hallett), and ends up falling into a culture of fetish and sex.
• “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf” • directed by Anna Margarita Albelo (USA) • When Anna (played by Anna Margarita Albelo) turns 40, she realizes her days as an arty hipster are numbered — unless she can make her dream movie, a riff on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” — and woo her leading lady (Janina Gavankar). Also starring Guinevere Turner (“Go Fish”) and Carrie Preston (“True Blood”).
Individual tickets for Damn These Heels! are $6, and available at ArtTix. A limited number of passes — at $30 each, and good for 10 tickets and access to the opening night celebrations — are available, as are VIP all-access packages.