‘Directly in the shoes’ of others

Posted: September 29th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Featured, Film | No Comments

By Morgan M. Hurley | Editor

San Diego International Film Fest represents unique film tracks, including LGBT

The San Diego International Film Festival (SDIFF), held Oct. 4–8 and presented annually by the San Diego Film Foundation, is considered by many to be one of California’s premier events on the film festival circuit and is certainly something not to be missed by lovers of movies.

Each year, in addition to bringing top quality mainstream and independent films to the San Diego region from up to 68 countries around the world, the five-day festival continues to expand its offering of LGBT-themed films.

As in years past, the festival will have two “festival villages,” one in Downtown San Diego and the other in La Jolla. There will also be two screening locations, Regal Cinema UA Horton Plaza Downtown and ArcLight La Jolla UTC, and the new Pendry Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter will act as the festival’s headquarters, where various panels and other special events will take place.

In addition to the LGBT track, other unique film tracks this year include American Indian, environmental, equestrian, foreign, local, comedy, military and films of a social impact.

“One of the most powerful aspects of film as a medium is its ability to place you directly into the shoes of someone — and experience a new perspective,” said executive and artistic director Tonya Mantooth, who first curated the LGBT track when she took over in 2012. “This is vital in our community in creating empathy, understanding and recognition of the worlds we each navigate. I’m thrilled with the diverse offerings of LGBTQ films this year — sharing powerful stories and experiences from the LGBTQ community.”

This year, the festival will be honoring Patrick Stewart, a longtime champion of the LGBT community, with the Gregory Peck Award for Excellence in Cinema. Past honorees include Annette Bening and Alan Arkin. Other honorees this year include actors Heather Graham, Blake Jenner and Kumail Nanjiani; as well as actor and filmmaker Taran Killam, of “Killing Gunter,” a film Killam wrote, directed and starred in, which also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Below is a list of the films included in SDiFF’s LGBT track. Fervent festivalgoers will recognize one from FilmOut San Diego’s recent festival, which took place in June.

“Thelma” (Norway) 116 min.

  • Friday, Oct. 6, 4:30 p.m., Regal Theatre Horton Plaza

In this supernatural horror-thriller film, a young college student begins to experience extreme seizures. As she falls in love, she soon discovers that these violent episodes are a symptom of her fantastic but often dangerous, powers and abilities.

“Thelma” won “Best Foreign Language Film” at the recent 90th annual Academy Awards.

Norweigan film, “Thelma”

“And Then There Was Eve” (USA) 98 min.

  • Saturday, Oct. 7, 3:30 p.m., Regal Theatre Horton Plaza
  • Sunday, Oct. 8, 2:30 p.m., ArcLight Theatre UTC

Waking one morning to find her apartment ransacked and her husband mysteriously missing, Alyssa, a successful photographer, is left without even a photograph to offer the police. She soon turns to Eve, her husband’s flirtatious and charming colleague. A talented jazz pianist, Eve helps Alyssa confront her husband’s longtime struggle with depression, and over time, accept his absence. Despite the unusual circumstances, Alyssa soon finds herself falling in love again in this engaging psychological thriller.

Winner of the Muse Award for “Best Fiction Film” at the 2017 LA Film Festival.

A scene from “And Then There Was Eve,” winner of “Best Fiction Film” at LA Film Festival (Images courtesy SDiFF)

“The Lavender Scare” (USA) 78 min.

  • Sunday, Oct. 8, 1 p.m., Regal Theatre Horton Plaza

With the Cold War and communism panic gripping the nation in the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided that homosexuals were “security risks” and vowed to rid the federal government of all employees discovered to be gay or lesbian. Tens of thousands lost their jobs and some even lost their lives. But the mass firings had an unintended effect: They stir outrage in the gay community and thrust an unlikely hero into the forefront of the LGBT rights movement.

Six-time award winner for “Best Documentary,” including at FilmOut.

Frank Kameny marches for LGBT workers’ rights

“Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall”

  • Sunday, Oct. 8, 3:30 p.m., Regal Theatre Horton Plaza

This documentary follows Todrick Hall as he launches his full-scale original musical, “Straight Outta Oz.” Through a series of 16 videos shot over two weeks, we watch Hall struggle to write songs about growing up gay and black in small-town Texas, his difficult relationship with his mom, and the harsh realities of trying to make it in show business.

With the odds against him and limited time and budget, the former “American Idol” contestant’s passion and his team of talented performers overcome all obstacles to bring his powerfully inclusive and transformational message to the world. Editor’s note: To see a recent interview with Todrick Hall in Gay San Diego, visit

Todrick Hall in a scene from his documentary (Courtesy SDiFF)

SDiFF takes place Oct. 4–8. Access to special events, VIP five-day festival passes ($600), five-day festival passes ($350), VIP weekend passes ($450), weekend passes ($250), day passes ($75) and tickets for individual films ($16) are all available at

—Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at

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