The 2008 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

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It’s that time of year again.
Now celebrating its 22nd birthday, the London Lesbian and
Gay Film Festival

will screen at the British Film Institute on London’s South Bank from
March 27 to April 10, offering queer-themed
shorts, documentaries, and feature films from around the world.

The Chinese Botanist’s Daughter

You can view a complete list
of the films on offer here. Among the ones reviewed or mentioned
by AfterEllen.com are the romantic tragedy The Chinese Botanist’s
Daughter

(pictured above), the American
TV pilot Don’t Go featuring Guinevere Turner,
and the Oscar-winning short documentary Freeheld, about the fight of dying lesbian
policewoman Laurel Hester to see her pension go to her partner Stacie
Andree.

There’s also the Taiwanese
romance Spider Lilies, the German drama Vivere, the French coming-of-age film Water Lilies,
and the South African period romance The World Unseen.

The World Unseen

There’s the 1996 American documentary It’s
Elementary — Talking About Gay Issues in School
, and its 2007
follow-up, It’s STILL
Elementary — The Movie and the Movement
.
And there’s the HBO film Life Support, starring Queen Latifah

as an HIV-positive charity worker (although unfortunately her character
isn’t a lesbian).

A program titled “The Face of Another:
Imagining Lesbian Desire

offers a chance to see Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring
fall in love in Mulholland Dr. It also includes films that explore
female relationships but are not so overtly lesbian-themed, like Ingmar
Bergman’s Persona and the MadonnaRosanna Arquette

flick Desperately Seeking Susan.

Two of my favorite crushes
are featured in the festival: one being Atonement actress
Romola Garai
, who stars in the François Ozon film Angel.
Sadly, the film seems to have been included in the festival because Ozon
is openly gay and because it has a camp sensibility, rather than because
Garai herself has any lesbian encounters in the movie — although evidently
she does get a massage from co-star Lucy Russell:

Meanwhile, the beautiful French
actress Ludivine Sagnier (pictured below left) plays bisexual
in Les Chansons D’Amour (Love Songs), a musical about a threesome between
a man and two women that becomes complicated when the man finds himself
drawn towards another man. You can view a trailer for the film here.

There’s also a chance to
see Cate Blanchett in her acclaimed gender-bending turn as Bob
Dylan in I’m Not There.

Although some films may already
be listed as fully booked, be aware that it’s always worth calling
the box office to see if they’ve had any returns. And while you’re
at the BFI, why not stop by their Mediatheque and watch a selection of archive British
lesbian films for free?

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