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At Outfest, the real -- and the surreal

July 12, 2007|Kevin Thomas | Special to The Times

OUTFEST '07 will present more than 250 films, and a sampling of some of the more prominent titles is impressive.

Among them, only Jonah Markowitz's "Shelter" is a classic coming-of-age tale. Set in San Pedro, it follows promising artist Zach (Trevor Wright, who makes the deepening conflicts achingly real). When Zach looks to sacrifice his future to care for the son of his feckless sister (Tina Holmes), his old pal (Brad Rowe) confronts him with what he owes to himself -- and his long-suppressed homosexuality.

8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ford Amphitheatre

It would be hard to imagine a more important film in the festival than Daniel Karslake's documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So." Karslake tells the stories of a number of gay people and their families -- including those of New Hampshire's Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop, and Chrissy Gephardt, an openly lesbian participant in the 2004 presidential campaign of her father, former Rep. Richard Gephardt. Karslake intercuts these stories against a fierce debate over biblical interpretations.

8 p.m. Tuesday, DGA

In recent years, Eytan Fox has emerged as one of Israel's most dynamic filmmakers. In 2002 he scored an international hit with "Yossi & Jagger," a love story between two Israeli army officers, and now seems certain to make a similar splash with "The Bubble." It's a cleareyed portrait of young Tel Aviv friends who try to escape life's uncertainties by concentrating on careers and pleasure -- until one in the group, Noam (Ohad Knoller), falls in love with a Palestinian, Ashraf (Yousef "Joe" Sweid). The story cuts to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

6:30 p.m. Sunday, DGA

A friend remarked that "25 Cent Preview" is a "Midnight Cowboy" for today, and it's hard to improve on that description. Director Cyrus Amini offers a cinema verite look at a hustler (Merlin Gaspers) in San Francisco's gamy lower Polk Street and his friendship with a fellow hustler (Dorian Brockington, actually discovered in the area). The spiritual longings of Gaspers' character take this gritty, often exceedingly raunchy film in unexpected directions.

7 p.m. Saturday, Showcase; 9:30 p.m. Monday, Monica 4-Plex

"Finn's Girl," from Canadian filmmakers Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, juxtaposes the challenges of Dr. Finn Jeffries (Brooke Johnson) in trying to raise her late lover's 11-year-old daughter (Maya Ritter) and to run a Toronto abortion clinic, now the focus of a protest. The result: a provocative balance between suspense and personal drama.

9:45 p.m. July 20, DGA

Although Angelina Maccarone's "Vivere" has a credibility-defying plot, its intricate structure allows three actresses to shine: veteran Hannelore Elsner as a woman whose long-term relationship with a married woman has disintegrated; Kim Schnitzer as a young lesbian taxi driver weighed down by family responsibilities; and Esther Zimmering as Schnitzer's rebellious younger sister, who's run off with her rock star boyfriend.

7 p.m. Wednesday, DGA

"One to Another," from co-directors Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr ("Cote d'Azur"), centers on Lucie (Lizzie Brochere) and her brother Pierre (Arthur Dupont), who is forever asking her to tell him how beautiful he is, as they hang out with a group of young men in the South of France. All have nothing but time on their hands, which leads to predictable sexual shenanigans but also to a confounding conclusion. Certainly there have been similar films, yet this is distinctive as a subtle observation of young people who rely on their bodies to express themselves.

7 p.m. Friday, Barnsdall Gallery Theatre

Zabou Breitman's "The Man of My Life" is also set in rural France. Frederic (Bernard Campan) and Frederique (Lea Drucker) are a devoted couple who gather family and friends at a manor house in Provencale. After they invite Hugo (Charles Berling), a gay neighbor, he and Frederic become running partners, engaging in long discussions that challenge each other. "The Man of My Life" is wholly unpredictable, slightly surreal, somewhat ambiguous -- and altogether dazzling.

7 p.m. July 21, DGA

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