James Franco leads LGBT cinema highlights at Atlanta Film Festival

For over four decades, the Atlanta Film Festival has showcased new and exciting films from around the world. With this year’s festivities, running March 20–29, the popular festival is opening with a bang: this year’s opening night screening is I Am Michael, starring James Franco as gay-turned-ex-gay activist Michael Glatze. The film’s already picked up some significant buzz ahead of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival for Franco’s performance, the film’s depiction of Glatze, and a certain ménage à trois with Franco, Zachary Quinto and Charlie Carver.


Hot, right? The attention-grabbing star will be in attendance at the screening of I Am Michael at the Plaza Theatre. And he won’t be the only film participant in attendance this year.

This year’s films are primarily screening at the Plaza Theatre and 7 Stages Theatre, with additional locations hosting certain screenings. Individual tickets for films cost $10, while passes for the festival start at $50. To purchase tickets or passes, and to see a full list of this year’s films (complete with schedule), visit the Atlanta Film Festival website.

Of note to our readers are the seven films that are part of the Pink Peach Features lineup. The Pink Peach Features include a range of different films with LGBT themes; this year’s lineup includes six features in all.  Additionally, five other features have prominent LGBT themes, and three shorts make up the Pink Peach Shorts lineup. Read below for film descriptions, dates/times and locations, and check back here at Outtakes for reviews of select features.

Pink Peach Features



Wednesday, March 25 • 9:30 p.m. • Plaza Theatre (Upstairs)

Directed by Dean Francis • Australia • 2014 • English • 93 minutes

Len is a surfing legend in the community. When the younger, faster, fitter Phil arrives, Len’s status starts to crumble. Then Len sees Phil arriving in the company of another man; a man Phil gives a farewell kiss to. Phil is gay. Over the summer season, Len starts to form unexpected, confusing feelings for Phil. When Phil de-thrones Len at the annual surf competition, Len and his buddy Meat take Phil out on an intoxicated bender through the seedy city.


Helicopter Mom

Monday, March 23 • 7 p.m. • Plaza Theatre (Upstairs)

Directed by Salomé Breziner • USA • 2014 • English • 81 minutes

Teenager Lloyd Cooper’s mother Maggie (Nia Vardalos) thinks it would be “really cool” to have a gay son. In her enthusiastic, hypersupportive openmindedness, she outs him to his entire high school, matchmakes him with boys his age, and fills out his application for a gay student scholarship. There’s just one wrench in her grand plan: Lloyd’s not sure he’s gay to begin with.


Before the Last Curtain Falls (Bevor der letzte Vorhang fällt)

Tuesday, March 24 • 9 p.m. • Plaza Theatre (Main)

Directed by Thomas Wallner • Germany/Belgium • 2014 • Flemish/French/English/Mandarin • 92 minutes

A group of transsexuals and drag queens in their sixties and seventies summon up the courage to take to the stage one last time. For two years, they have been touring in five continents, basking in the success of a spectacular show called “Gardenia,” directed by Alain Platel and Frank Van Laecke. Now, as the show comes to a close, the glamorous aging performers must leave the limelight and go home to the quiet lives they left behind.


In the Turn

Sunday, March 29 • Noon • 7 Stages Theatre

Directed by Erica Tremblay • USA/Canada • 2014 • English • 113 minutes

In the Turn follows 10-year-old Crystal, a transgender girl in rural Canada, as she navigates a difficult and complicated environment. Tormented at school by teachers and peers alike, she faces daily insults and physical altercations, and the pain she endures takes a toll on both her self-esteem and the emotional stability of her family. Struggling with prejudice, hatred, and ignorance, Crystal opens up at last when her mother discovers the Vagine Regime, a queer and supportive collective of roller-derby players.



Monday, March 23 • 9:15 p.m. • 7 Stages Theatre

Directed by Russell Sheaffer • USA • 2014 • English • 88 minutes

Experimental filmmaker Russell Sheaffer’s feature documentary picks up where “Masculinity & Me,” his short film starring James Franco, left off. Presented as a series of monologues, stories, and performance pieces by artists, academics, or gender theorists, this collaboration is so raw and diverse that the filmmakers themselves question the constructs of their script much like each participant questions the constructs of today’s gender-normative society.


Trans: A Documentary About Transboys

Saturday, March 21 • 11:15 a.m. • Plaza Theatre (Upstairs)

Directed by Nathalie Cools • Belgium • 2014 • Dutch • 42 minutes

Filmed primarily at the University Hospital in Ghent, “Trans” follows various transgender men as they undergo medical treatment to complete their transition from female to male. The documentary pairs a profound interview with a transman with informative discussions from medical professionals. Educational, personal, and revealing, the film highlights a community and its struggles few may know.

LGBT Interest Features


I Am Michael

Friday, March 20 • 7:30 p.m. • Plaza Theatre (Main)

Directed by Justin Kelly • USA • 2015 • English • 98 minutes

Based on a true story, I Am Michael depicts gay activist Michael Glatze (James Franco), the managing editor of popular San Francisco-based XY magazine. He was a proud gay man in a loving relationship with his partner Bennett (Zachary Quinto). After Glatze faces a health scare from severe heart palpitations, he turns to Christianity and renounces his homosexuality, eventually becoming a Christian pastor and marrying Rebekah (Emma Roberts).


The Firefly (La Luciernaga)

Sunday, March 22 • 7 p.m. • High Museum of Art (Hill Auditorium)

Directed by Ana Maria Hermida • Colombia • 2014 • Spanish • 110 minutes

Following the sudden death of her estranged brother, Lucia finds comfort through her brother’s fiancée, Mariana. Though strangers at first, the two women slowly bond over their loss, sharing memories and stories of the man they both loved. Eventually they fall in love and Lucia finds herself at a crossroad. She must choose whether to return to her old life with her husband or embark on a new journey with her newfound love.



Saturday, March 28 • 4:30 p.m. • Plaza Theatre (Main)

Directed by Brigitta Wagner • USA • 2015 • English • 78 minutes

Despite landing the opportunity to appear on television, Katriona receives potentially devestating news that may end her relationship with her boyfriend, Dominic. Needing to get away, she decides to visit her best friend Alice—a sex researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Both Alice and Katriona find comfort in the denial of the state of their lives—Katriona with her health issues and Alice with her lack of intimate relationships. However, by the conclusion of the trip, the ladies learn to face and accept their true feelings.


Sand Dollars (Dólares de arena)

Saturday, March 21 • 7 p.m. • Woodruff Arts Center (Rich Theatre)

Directed by Israel Cárdenas & Laura Amelia Guzmán • Dominican Republic/Argentina/Mexico • 2014 • Spanish/English • 80 minutes

An older European woman becomes enchanted with a young Dominican woman who must struggle to make ends meet. Love brings a flow of entanglements in a drama which unfolds like palm trees in an irresistible storm.


Satanic Panic 2: Battle of the Bands

Friday, March 27 • 6:30 p.m. • 7 Stages Theatre

Directed by Eddie Ray • USA • 2014 • English • 50 minutes

In the eagerly anticipated sequel to the short film “Satanic Panic: Band Out of Hell,” we continue the electronic dance group’s adventures as they prepare for the upcoming Battle of the Bands—all while maintaining their secret that they are not actual Satan worshippers at all. Meanwhile, their manager, Dick Dano, is still intent on sacrificing the band to Satan himself. Follow Satanic Panic on their new exploits as they balance secret government spy missions, band rivalries, and growing egos.

Pink Peach Shorts


Playing as part of the “Better Left Unsaid” program

Saturday, March 28 • 2:30 p.m. • 7 Stages Theatre

Directed by Jeremy Hersh • USA • 11:36

Follows the romantic relationship between a 23-year-old aspiring actress and an off-broadway star.


Playing as part of the “New Mavericks” program

Saturday, March 28 • Noon • Plaza Theatre (Main)

Directed by Angel Kristi Williams • USA • 11:00

Excited to have befriended the popular girl at school, Alex will do anything to stay in her good graces. When her new friend wants to play house, Alex innocently plays along and develops feelings she doesn’t understand.

Happy Endings

Playing as part of the “Love NC-17” program

Friday, March 27 • 9:45 p.m. • Plaza Theatre (Upstairs)

Directed by Hannes Thor Arason • Canada/Iceland • 16:34

After falling in love with an erotic masseuse, a lonely parking booth attendant must step out of his comfort zone to liberate her from her oppressive boss.

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