The Polari Film Festival kicks off Wednesday with one of its most artistically diverse lineups in years, combining documentaries and dramas that examine past as well as contemporary struggles for love and identity. And while Polari typically includes a few controversial gay and lesbian films, many features in this year’s lineup represent what’s been called an evolution in the New Queer Cinema toward stories with mainstream appeal.
Both the opening and closing-night dramas, which center on the lives of contemporary dancers, represent such an evolution. “Five Dances,” which screens Wednesday, looks at a young man from the Midwest who joins a dance company in New York and ends up finding new love.
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Polari Film Festival
When: Wednesday through Oct. 20
Where: Most screeings at Alamo Ritz, 320 E. Sixth St.; Stateside, 719 Congress Ave.; and Violet Crown, 434 W. Second St. For other locations and more information, visit www.polarifest.com.
Cost: $10 for individual screenings; $50 for limited film passes; $100 to $1,100 for badges and sponsorships
More Austin ties
Two sprightly feature films from Austin directors will screen at Polari after making their local premieres at South by Southwest in March. Here’s a brief recap of the two.
“Pit Stop,” 5 p.m. Saturday, Stateside. This gentle feature from director Yen Tan looks at a budding romance between a construction contractor named Gabe (Bill Heck) and a forklift operator named Ernesto (Marcus DeAnda). Gabe is recently divorced from his wife but still regularly visits his ex and their baby. He shares his feelings about his sexuality and longing with his wife but is not as comfortable representing himself as a gay man to the outside world. Ernesto, meanwhile, is mourning the loss of his wayward young lover while tending to an ill former lover. When the two finally cross paths, they find solace and release in their intimacy. — Matthew Odam
“Before You Know It,” 4 p.m. Sunday, Alamo Ritz. Director PJ Raval chronicles a year in the life of gay senior citizens living in three different retirement homes. Shining a spotlight on an issue that is seldom explored in popular culture, this was one the top documentaries at South by Southwest. — Matt Shiverdecker
The festival will also screen shorts by Austin filmmakers. They include “Slash,” by Clay Liford; “Dance Like No One’s Watching,” by Jenn Garrison; “Psycho Billy,” by Brittany Reeber’ “Still.1,” by Mo Nierman; and “Whitewash,” by teens in Polari’s Queer Youth Media Program.