A month of indie gay films

Johnron Tanada in 'Kape Barako'

There’s still time to catch the July-long Filipino Indie Gay Film Festival at the Producers Club Indiehouse Theaters on 358 West 44, two blocks from the 42nd Street subway.

The series, which began July 14 with the screening of “Pulupot” (Clingy), will feature the following films:

July 21: “Laruang Lalake” (Boytoy aka Censored Dreams)
July 22: “Kape Barako” (A Real Man’s Coffee)
July 28: “Muli” (Again and Again)
July 29: “Kape Barako” (A Real Man’s Coffee)

All screenings are scheduled at 10 p.m. Producer-writer Lex Bonife will be available to answer questions.

Bonife described “Laruang Lalake” as a narrative expose on actors who appear in gay films in the Philippines. The convoluted plot has the actor character Samuel falling for a production assistant who is secretly lusting after a down-on-his luck film producer.

“It is a realist film that portrays the people within the gay film industry and their personal stories – from the naughty to the gritty, from the horny to the hopeful,” wrote Bonife in his blog, Lexuality.

“Kape Barako” is more of a light comedy with a feel-good ending.

“The movie may not be epic, but ‘Kape Barako’ is easy to understand, with good narrative, relatable plot,” wrote blogger eZi.

“Indie gay” is a fast-growing film genre in the staunchly Catholic Philippines and in other Asian countries, attracting its share of flack and fame. The search for self is standard in gay-themed films, until the scenes evolve into more visceral homoerotic explorations some conservatives would dismiss as pornographic.

The legendary director Lino Brocka’s “Macho Dancer” (1988) paved the way. The ‘provinciano’ character in the film comes to Manila after he was dumped by his American lover and finds work as a strip club dancer in the red-light district.

While similar themes have played out in many cheap-thrill flicks with chunks of man-on-man sex scenes, others actually develop a storyline as in the coming-of-age “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros). In this film, an effeminate young boy becomes the “woman of the house” to his family of petty thieves, meaning his father and brothers. Until Maximo meets the police officer investigating his brother for a crime, and finds himself falling for the cop. The film won acclaim in major international film festivals in Berlin, Montreal and the Asian Film Festival in Singapore in 2005.

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