Summer is the season for the Hollywood blockbuster and your local multiplex is sure to be reserving many of its screens to X-Men: First Class, The Green Lantern, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and other action and adventure flicks. So, if you more inclined to seek out quieter, character driven or independent cinema, you will most likely find yourself at a local film festival once or twice over the next three months. To help you determine where to go and what to see, here are the top five most buzzed about movies coming to a festival near you.
Set in contemporary Tehran in the unseen world of Iranian youth culture and the underground art scene, Circumstance is a fictional story based on the real-life experiences of writer, director, producer Maryam Keshavarz. The sexy and visually sumptuous film focuses on wealthy Atafeh, and her best friend, orphaned Shireen, as they discover their burgeoning sexuality, explore their feelings for one another and test the boundaries of the world they were born into. When Atafeh’s brother, Mehran, returns home from rehab, the once close siblings find themselves at odds as Mehran’s newly adopted fundamental views cause him to turn on his liberal family. He disapproves of his sister’s increasingly intimate relationship with Shireen and becomes obsessed with saving Shireen from Atafeh’s influence.
Although several reviews, including those by staffers at Variety and Slant magazine have pointed to Mehran’s weak character development and contrived plot points in the latter half of the film, Circumstance is worth seeing if only for the “vivid Dubai-set fantasies of frequenting lesbian bars and making love in lush hotel rooms.”
Circumstance won the Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by Roadside Attractions and Participant Media. You can catch it Provincetown International Film Festival in June and Outfest in July before it is released in select theaters on August 26.
Co-Dependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same is a screwball comedy that is one part Woody Allen-esque romantic comedy and one part hilarious spoof of 1950’s era sci-fi B movies. The film—award-winning lesbian playwright Madeline Olnek’s first feature — tracks Zylar, Zoinx and Barr, three lesbian space aliens from the planet Zots, who travel to earth to have their hearts broken and rid themselves of the romantic emotions that are destroying their planet’s ozone layer. Comedienne Lisa Haas plays Dyke Dollar, the unsuspecting earthling who falls hard for Zoinx.
The film premiered to great acclaim at Sundance Film Festival in January and then moved on to Nashville International Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival, garnering critical praise along the way. Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Screen Daily have all given rave reviews for the film’s comedic script, performances, and Eisenhower-era appropriate production value. Catch it at Provincetown Film Festival, Rooftops NYC and Frameline (San Francisco) in June, Outfest (Los Angeles) and Q-fest (Philadelphia) in July and Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in August.