After a one-year hiatus, the Reel Pride film festival returns June 1 to the New Port Richey Library for a month of Friday and Saturday evening showings.
Popular demand helped get the GLBT film festival back on track for the seventh year, according to library outreach director Ann Scott. She fielded numerous phone calls from people after missing the traditional June showing in 2011. She said attendance had been mostly "fair" after the initial years that sparked some controversy and in turn, some support, of the festival focused on the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. "We played with the idea of doing it at another time of year — maybe in October — so we wouldn't be competing with other local events," Scott said. But then things got busy and we ended up skipping it altogether."
This year's films, chosen by a select committee, offer a good mix of humor, romance and sorrow, with drama, documentaries, independent and foreign films and period pieces.
Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore and Jim Carrey are some of the big-name stars in this year's slate of movies.
"We looked at other GLBT festivals in Seattle, New York, L.A. and Tampa to see what films were really popular," Scott said. "The committee was a huge help because we had people bringing their own perspective, which helps create more balance. Some of these films are the first films they (committee members) ever saw that really resonated with them — films that showed that there are other people like them."
The lineup includes the 1986 classic My Beautiful Laundrette featuring a young Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as the 2011 drama Romeos about the relationship between a young man and a transsexual who is transitioning from female to male. Also on the marquee are films that have garnered mainstream praise such as A Single Man and Albert Nobbs, which earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best actor and best actress for Colin Firth and Glenn Close, respectively.
Among the more obscure films are documentaries, such as Out in Silence, which follows the journey of a gay teen coming out in a rural community. "That focuses on bullying, which is an important topic to include," Scott said. A Marine Story, featuring lesbian fan-favorite Dreya Weber (The Gymnast), is about a Marine who, because of the (now-defunct) "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the armed services, must leave the only life she has known. Others, such as A Single Man, address a more universal experience — in this instance, how a gay university professor, portrayed by Firth, copes with the loss of his longtime partner.
"The fact that he and his partner are gay is almost a subtext. It's not the main component of the film," Scott said. "And stylistically, it's wonderful to watch."
Although some of the films are available on Netflix, DVD or other sources, Scott is hoping people will venture out to attend the library showings.
"It's a time to come out and watch a movie on the big screen with your peers and have some refreshment," Scott said. "It's about continuing a conversation with people with like minds and maybe some people who are new to the experience."