Nineteen LGBTQ-themed movies from around the world — including two international classics — will entertain Utah audiences at the 16th annual Damn These Heels LGBTQ Film Festival.
The festival — which runs July 12-14 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City — will feature for the first time a virtual-reality lounge, and a storytelling workshop with Giuliana Serena, founder/producer of The Bee.
Also for the first time, Damn These Heels has a guest programmer: Jordan Blok, a trans non-binary writer in Salt Lake City. Blok covers popular science, LGBTQ culture and trans health, and is a fan of lesbian revenge thrillers.
Blok selected two classic LGBTQ films for the festival: Alain Berliner’s 1997 Belgian/French drama “Ma Vie en Rose,” about a 7-year-old who scandalizes a small town by dressing in girls’ clothes and insisting she’s a girl; and Park-Chan Wook’s 2016 Korean thriller “The Handmaiden,” in which a Korean handmaiden’s plans to defraud her Japanese mistress take a dark turn.
• “Adam,” directed by Rhys Ernst (U.S.) • “Missteps of a cis man pretending to be a trans man for the sake of dating. Follow him through queer Brooklyn.” The film, which debuted in the 2019 Sundance Festival’s Next program, stars Nicholas Alexander, Bobbi Salvör Menuez and Margaret Qualley.
• “An Almost Ordinary Summer (Croce e delizia),” directed by Simone Godano (Italy) • “Two families don’t realize they’re being brought together for a wedding for their respective patriarchs.” Starring Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Alessandro Gassmann and Jasmine Trinca.
• “Bit,” directed by Brad Michael Elmore (U.S.) • “Laurel, a teenage transgender girl, moves to L.A. and falls in with a gang of intersectional feminist vampires.” Starring Nicole Maines, M.C. Gainey and Diana Hopper.
• “Changing the Game,” directed by Michael Barnett (U.S.) • “Three trans high school athletes fight for acceptance in their sports while embracing their authentic selves.” (Opening night film; previously announced.)
• “Fabulous,” directed by Audrey Jean-Baptiste (French Guiana) • “Lasseindra Ninja, an international performer, brings vogue to French Guiana, her home country. Through her workshop we witness the dance culture’s impact on this marginalized queer community.”
• “For They Know Not What They Do,” directed by Daniel Karslake (U.S.) • “The director of ‘For the Bible Tells Me So’ explores four American families as they face sexuality, identity, and the undeniable connection of the personal and political.”
• “Gay Chorus Deep South,” directed by David Charles Rodrigues (U.S.) • “The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the Deep South, confronting intolerance with fine music.” (Previously announced.)
• “Gracefully,” directed by Arash Eshaghi (Iran) • “A contemplative portrait of a rural qenderqueer drag queen, banned from performance after the 1970 Iranian Revolution.”
• “Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life,” directed by Tomer Heymann (Israel/Germany) • “A rare and intimate story of one of the world’s most successful gay porn stars. A look at porn and escorting in a way that redefines family and cultural norms.”
• “A Night at Switch n’ Play,” directed by Cody Stickels (U.S.) • “’Switch n’ Play’ hosts experimental burlesque dancers, drag kings, and traditional drag queens in one venue.”
• “No Box For Me: An Intersex Story,” directed by Floriane Devigne (France) • “A lyrical film that questions gender and reflects on the way intersex people seek to reclaim their bodies.” (Previously announced.)
• “Olivia,” directed by Jacqueline Audry (France) • “Known as a ‘landmark of lesbian representation,’ the film works in charged moments to explore unrequited love between a headmistress, her colleagues, and a pupil.” The newly restored 1951 film stars Edwige Feuillère, Simone Simon (from the original “Cat People”) and Marie-Claire Olivia. (Previously announced.)
• “Retablo,” directed by Alvaro Delgado Aparicio (Peru) • “14-year-old Segundo, a story-box maker, observes his father in a situation that shatters his whole world.” Starring Magaly Solier, Amiel Cayo and Junior Bejar. (Previously announced.)
• “Sister Aimee,” directed by Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingmann (U.S.) • “A famous evangelist of the 20′s mysteriously disappears with her lover at the height of her stardom.” The film, which debuted in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s Next program, stars Julie White, Michael Mosley and Amy Hargreaves. (Centerpiece film; previously announced.)
• “Socrates,” directed by Alexandre Moratto (Brazil) • “Teenage Socrates faces isolation for his sexuality on the margins of São Paulo following his mother’s death.” Starring Christian Malheiros, Tales Ordakji and Caio Martinez Pacheco.
• “Unsettled,” directed by Tom Shepard (U.S.) • “The story of four LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East as they flee persecution to seek better and safer lives in the U.S.”
• “Wounded by the Wind (Las Heridas del Viento),” directed by Juan Carlos Rubio (Spain) • “Finding his deceased father’s love letter to another man, David seeks out his father’s lover for the truth.” Starring Daniel Muriel and Kiti Mánver.
Editor’s note: Sean P. Means is married to an employee of the Utah Film Center.