It’s one of America’s most esteemed film festivals—and this year, as usual, it’s decidedly queer.
The 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival kicks off this week, with a mightily impressive 12-day schedule that’s overflowing with the best in LGBTQ-themed cinema from across the globe.
On Thursday, Jan. 3, the festival’s annual Film Awards Gala honored some of the biggest queer blockbusters from 2018, including “The Favourite,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The main screening portion of the PSIFF begins on Friday, Jan. 4, with showtimes continuing through Monday, Jan. 14 at numerous venues in the greater Palm Springs area.
Here are our picks for the queer movie gems not to miss at PSIFF 30.
Oona Chaplin (“Game of Thrones”) stars as Eva, whose carefree bohemian London life with girlfriend Kat is upended by Eva’s decision to become a mother, and to let Kat’s womanizing Spanish friend Roger be the sperm donor. Chaplin’s own mother, actress Geraldine Chaplin, plays her on-screen mom.
Oona Chaplin in attendance; Jan 6, 5:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas; Jan. 8, 10:30 a.m., Regal Cinemas.
The true story of baby-faced 1970s Argentine teen serial criminal Carlitos comes to vivid and queerified life in this brutal but gorgeous Pedro Almodóvar-co-produced feature, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.
Jan. 7, 7 p.m., Mary Pickford (Cathedral City); Jan. 9, 8:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas.
Another Cannes Film Festival pick, this young Spanish romance set in the marginalized Roma community on the outskirts of Madrid is the tale of teen bride-to-be Carmen, who finds real (though due to their strict patriarchal society, very secret) love with graffiti artist Lola.
Jan. 9, 10:30 a.m., Mary Pickford (CC); Jan. 13, 7pm, Mary Pickford (CC).
Popular high school swim team star Franky faces both internal and external crises after an unexpected drunken encounter with his best friend Ballas. Compounding the situation are Franky’s hostile feelings toward his father (Kyle MacLachlan), who left his mother (Mario Bello) for another man.
Director Keith Behrman and producer Allison Black in attendance; Jan. 5, 2:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas; Jan. 8, 1:15 p.m., Palm Springs High School.
Easily the most controversial queer-themed film of 2018, “Girl” follows 15-year-old Belgian trans girl Lara—played brilliantly, if contentiously, by young male actor Victor Polster—as she’s accepted to a prestigious dance academy, and the often brutal physical, social and mental challenges that befall her in her dual quests to become a woman and a ballerina. The film won both the Queer Palm (for best LGBTQ film) and the Caméra d’Or (for first-time director Lukas Dhont) at the Cannes Film Festival.
Jan. 7, 1:30 p.m., Annenberg Theater; Jan. 8, 8:30 p.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center); Jan. 13, 10 a.m., Palm Springs High School.
Ana Brun won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival for her portrayal of faded Paraguayan aristocrat Chela, who’s forced to leave her hermetic ways behind when longtime girlfriend Chiquita goes to jail. As she returns to the world, Chela meets the sensual Angy, who helps her come out of her shell.
Jan. 7, 9 a.m., Regal Cinemas; Jan. 9, 1 p.m., Regal Cinemas; Jan. 12, 9:30 a.m., Mary Pickford (CC).
Olympic gold medalist John Curry, the first openly gay person figure skater, is profiled in this fascinating and uplifting documentary by James Erskine, who also directed the 2013 doc “The Battle of the Sexes.”
Jan. 9, 5:30 p.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center); Jan. 11, 10 a.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center); Jan. 12, 2:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas.
In this hot and steamy thriller directed by gay indie favorite Yann Gonzalez, French superstar Vanessa Paradis plays a late 1970s producer of Parisian gay porn, whose actors begin falling victim to a leather-masked killer.
Jan. 5, 6 p.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center); Jan. 6, 5 p.m., Regal Cinemas.
Monty Clift’s nephew Robert co-directs this uniquely intimate look at the iconic but troubled star, as seen through the eyes and archives of his own family and longtime partner Lorenzo James.
Directors Robert A. Clift and Hillary Demmon in attendance; Jan. 10, 7 p.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center); Jan. 11, 11:45 a.m., Annenberg Theater.
In this darkly funny and tender dramedy, Matt Bomer is lonely LA TV weatherman Sean, who hires Latino migrant worker Ernesto—in theory to paint his deck, but in reality to be his friend and therapist.
Jan. 6, 4 p.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center), director John Butler in attendance; Jan. 8, 1 p.m., Regal Cinemas; Jan. 11, 6:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas.
Australia’s real-life LGBTQ rights movement is the backdrop for this sweeping and inspiring drama, which follows the lives of key characters in the country’s “Stonewall” moment during Mardi Gras 1978.
Jan 11, 9 a.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center); Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Camelot Theatres (PS Cultural Center).
One of history’s great literary love affairs—that of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West in 1920s London—is brought to life in this sensuous British drama, seen here in its American premiere.
Jan. 10, 4:30 p.m., Annenberg Theater; Jan. 13, 1 p.m., Palm Springs High School.
For more info about the 2019 PSIFF, go to psfilmfest.org/2019-ps-film-festival.