BORN THIS WAY                             Time:  6:30 PM
 
Directors: Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann
USA, 2013, Documentary, 55 Minutes Running Time
French and English with English subtitles
 
 
The film’s first shot establishes the shame-enshrouded closet to which gay people are relegated in Cameroon. In silhouette cast by the light of a solitary candle, two women discuss how, if even seen hugging in public, they could go to jail. In a country where they arrest people for making love, discretion is the most important skill one can master. Such is the life of the gay men and lesbians of Cameroon, an African nation where homosexuality is punishable by up to five years in prison.
 
But filmmakers Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann have found their way into the underground gay and lesbian community here. Though gays and lesbians experience constant threats and harassment, some are starting to come out publicly. There is sweet, petite Gertrude, who proudly maintains her Christian faith even as it denounces her sexuality. There is fashion-forward Cédric who is being threatened by his neighbors but is still not ready to come out to his family.
 
A few of the scenes are filmed at Alternatives Cameroun, an organization that advocates for gay rights and provides HIV treatment and prevention. Here, a vibrant, close-knit community has formed, and gay Cameroonians can find support, friendship, and a safe haven from the hostile society that surrounds them. However, because of the risky nature of making a film like this, many of the employees and patients of Alternatives wanted to remain anonymous, which is why we only see their blurred faces. Supporting their fight is Alice Nkom, a lawyer actively fighting for gay rights, who fiercely defends those being persecuted by the system. While the film offers glimpses of hope and change for the future, LGBT people in Cameroon still have a perilous road ahead.  The film has been screened in over 60 film festivals throughout the world.
  
THE WAY HE LOOKS  
(HOJE EU QUERO VOLTAR SOZINHO)                Time:  8:30 PM
 
   
Director: Daniel Ribeiro
Brazil, 2014, 96 Minutes Running Time
Portuguese with English subtitles
 

Daniel Ribeiro has fashioned a magnificent film about teenage love and friendship that is warm and funny, and its young stars deliver soulful, entirely natural and convincing performances. Leo and Giovana are best pals, who spend time sunning themselves by the pool and wondering about their futures. As a blind kid who craves his independence, Leo is feeling stifled by his well-meaning parents and hopes to study abroad. Giovana just wants a date—preferably with the recently arrived Gabriel, with his good taste in music and aloof charm. 

A school project pairs the two boys, and Gabriel is effortlessly welcomed into Leo’s friendship with Giovana. The dynamics change, however, when sexuality enters the picture. As Gabriel and Leo spend an increasing amount of time together, Giovana feels like she’s losing both her best friend and her potential new boyfriend. As the tale continues, Leo begins to develop a romantic attachment to Gabriel. Without giving too much away, viewers will likely be pleased at how the film ends.
 
Ribeiro is beautifully attuned to the temperaments of his characters and charts their mood swings perfectly. He is similarly expert in portraying the ebb and flow of youthful friendships, and the way romantic attraction can sneak in and overwhelm the unprepared. As critic Michael O’Sullivan has written about the film, “It is told with such tenderness, such intelligence, and such aching honesty that it takes on the weight of something far more significant than puppy love. Like its subject, first kisses and best friends, it’s hard to forget.”