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LGBT Festival: It’s Divine … And More

"G.B.F. (Courtesy, Boston LGBT Festival.)

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Film Festival season is in full-bloom in the Boston area. The Boston LGBT Film Festival — at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Brattle Theatre – runs the course of ten days and brings several independent movies from all sides of the spectrum, including different genres. There are serious documentaries up against personal dramas and the midnight movies. Picking favorites is tough, but here are a few that stood out.

“I Am Divine” (7 p.m. Saturday, May 4, MFA) is both a humanizing take on one of the most infamous onscreen performers in midnight movie history and as a kooky documentary filled with the strangest cast of talking heads outside of a John Waters movie. That is, because the film follows the story of Divine, the cross-dressing muse of many of Waters’s films. Born Harris Glen Milstead in Baltimore, the young Divine would develop his persona by hanging out with misfits like Waters, Mink Stole, and Cookie Mueller and doing the unthinkable in movies like “Female Trouble” and “Pink Flamingos.” Colorful, quickly-paced, if at times bordering on the tasteless, “I Am Divine” is a fitting tribute to a legend who crossed over to the mainstream.

Not everything is so bleak in the drama department. “Bye Bye Blondie”  (8 p.m. Thursday, May 2, ICA) follows a grown-up punk reconnecting with her first teen romance. She moves back in with her former love, who is currently married to a gay author in an attempt to hide their respective homosexuality. “Blondie” deals with the politics of identity, living with prejudice, but also reminiscences on teen angst that first brought them together through a series of flashbacks. The movie’s tone is bittersweet and nostalgic. Both the younger and older actresses were dedicated to their roles and the ensuing drama is uncomfortably relatable to anyone who’s given an ex another shot. And for the record, French punk rock makes for a great soundtrack.

The campy “G.B.F.” (7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, MFA) is a “Mean Girl”-ish comedy about the most closeted boy in high school getting outed by a phone app his classmates use in order to find “a real life gay.” One selfish activist is attempting to start a gay-straight alliance at the high school, but can’t find one non-heterosexual to join. Three other girls: a theater diva, a popular queen bee, and an over-friendly , if dumb, Mormon trying to save gay people decide they need to complete their fashion closet with the latest new trend: a GBF or gay best friend. It just so happens that the boy they out is more comic book geek than Lady Gaga worshipper. Oh, the irony! It borrows so heavily from “Mean Girls” that it name-drops that film as a musical number in a school play. Despite its clumsiness, the witty jokes and jabs at stereotypes are strong enough to keep it going.

Elsewhere during the 10 days, the Brattle has a night dedicated to the genre of Lezploitation with shorts by director Lola RockNRolla. There are documentaries aplenty addressing touchy subjects like the ones tackled in “I Am Gay and Muslim (religion and sexuality), “Before You Know It,” (lack of social services for LGBT seniors), and “The Other Me: A Film About Cosplayers” (identity performance in public). Then there’s a silly comedy like “Hot Guys With Guns,” about a plot to destroy the gay Hollywood Mafia to balance out the drama of “Laurence Anyways,” which follows a couple’s relationship after the titular character confesses he wants to become a woman.

You can see the list of movies at the Brattle, the MFA and the ICA

Monica Castillo is a freelance film critic and writer based in Boston. You can usually find her outside any of the area’s movie theaters excitedly talking about the film she just saw or on Twitter @mcastimovies.