For its lucky 13th, Cowtown’s  annual gay and lesbian international film festival, Q Cinema, has love in its heart

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NOTICE A COMMON THEME HERE? | Q Cinema is bringing sexy back with its 13th queer film festival, with gay rom-coms like ‘eCupid,’ top, ‘Judas Kiss,’ center, and the lesbian drama ‘Bloomington,’ bottom.

Q Cinema is bringing sexy back.

Its 13th annual festival, which begins on Thursday and runs over next weekend, is flush with sexy, fun and campy films, as well as smattering of dramas (gay, lesbian, trans and bi) through shorts and features. And, for a festival of its size, it manages to attract loads of talent, from stars like Bruce Vilanch and Charlie David to filmmakers like Casper Andreas.

And, in true Cowtown fashion, it finds a way to make it all yee-haw fun, with a bowling party and dishy programs.
Here’s a preview of some of the programs.

Going Down in LA-LA Land
OK, let’s be honest: A lot of gay cinema falls in too-easy pigeonholes and familiar clichés. Twinks getting shirtless. Over-the-top, homo-hating bad guys (who often turn out to be in the closet). Romantic encounters, both cheesy and predictable. Sitcom-y jokes — or else, tortured melodramatic emoting.

But we watch them, and even like them, because they have shirtless twinks. And romantic encounters. And bad guys who turn out to be closet cases.

So sue us. We like our mindless, lightweight fantasies as much as straight folks.

So, when Going Down in LA-LA Land starts with new kid Adam (Matthew Ludwinski) moving to Los Angeles only to be put off by back-stabbing, dating trouble and career misfires, it looks like it’ll be another of its genre: The sappy, silly, easy comedy.

And then something happens: It gets good.

Sure, you can see some of the plot turns easier than at the Texas Motor Speedway, but there’s also a canny, insider quality that adds some heft and authenticity to it all — largely with not-so-subtle references to real Hollywood (including Bruce Vilanch as a Chi Chi LaRue-esque porn director). Writer-director Casper Andreas has crafted a sexy but also funny and wise squinty-eyed look at Tinseltown, from the seductive side to the seedy (often one and the same), from the glamour to the pitfalls.

Andreas gets good performances from Ludwinski and Allison Lane (and himself as a methed-up photographer), but it’s the whole package of nudity, humor and pathos that makes it come together.
— Arnold Wayne Jones

Marshall (Houston Rhines) and Gabe (Noah Schuffman) are both cute, young and seven years into their relationship — and, to Marshall at least, it feels as if that’s as long as it has been since they had sex. Hoping to spice up his love life, Marshall downloads an app called eCupid, which promises to match him with the love of his life. But, in traditional genie fashion, you need to be careful what you ask for.

The biggest problem with the film eCupid is that it’s a silly, supernatural romantic fantasy, but Marshall never seems weirded out that his phone seems to be sending text messages on its own, or that everything going wrong could be fixed with a system reboot.

Still, that’s also about the worst thing you can say about this breezy, sexy rom-com, filled with half-naked boys, familiar couples problems and easy-to-digest complications.
— A.W.J.

A bad breakup will leave major scars, whether it’s the failure of a band or a couple. In the case of Trigger, it’s both.

ROCKER CHICKS | In ‘Trigger,’ Vic (Tracey Wright, left) and Kat (Molly Parker) recall themselves in their prime, before life took a turn a decade later.

Kat (Molly Parker) and Vic (Tracy Wright) reunite over dinner 10 years after their girl band Trigger suffered an onstage blowout. Vic is harder edged, battling her demons, while Kat has moved on to a glossier, pretentious life in Los Angeles. Both are different people; the tough part for them is figuring out if they are better people.

The movie is mostly a series of conversational vignettes between the two but director Bruce McDonald treats the scenes carefully, so as not to turn them into a gimmick. We learn about their backgrounds apart and relationships with each other: They were bandmates, they were lovers, they both got fucked up by drugs and alcohol.

Parker gets the flashier role as the bitchy but loveable Kat, but this is Wright’s show. As Vic, she delivers depths of frustration and hope while still eking out flashes of exhilaration. Her voice is heartbreaking and genuine. (The role was her last — Wright died of cancer shortly after filming.)

McDonald and screenwriter Daniel McIvor have churned out a very feminine film without pandering to clichés. There is no unnecessary delicacy added here. Minus some kitschy touches that missed

the mark (an after-party at a high school?), Trigger ends up being a surprising reality check that isn’t about a rock ‘n’ roll band, but how getting older is inevitable.
— Rich Lopez

Bloomington is about a student-teacher lesbian relationship, which falls under the still-lingering taboo of May-December romance with a strong sense of sexual exploitation. Jackie (Sarah Stouffer) is a 22-year-old college student; Prof. Catherine Stark (Allison McAtee) bears an almost creepy resemblance to Jackie’s mother, who was virtually absent during her daughter’s teen years.

Jackie spent those years as an actress in a TV series, Neptune 26, which ended four years earlier. Now Jackie’s in college, and although her fellow students are awed by her celebrity, her problems fitting in stem more from her own standoffishness. She hears rumors about the notorious Prof. Stark, who beds her female students, only to have them disappear. So when the two meet at a student-faculty mixer, they waste no time hooking up. The power dynamics change when Jackie is asked to reprise her role in a feature version of Neptune 26 and it becomes Catherine’s turn to worry about being discarded.

Perhaps out of fear of the creep factor, none of the displays of affection between the women even approach soft-core porn. They kiss a lot but when they take their clothes off, Brazilian-born writer-director Fernanda Cardoso gets coy about camera placement. Even Jackie’s bathtub scene has her well covered in bubbles.

Cardoso has supplied a lot of surprisingly intelligent dialogue about psychology, show business and academia, to shore up a plot that’s purely emotional. The ending may not be what you expect, but

ACTION! | An aspiring actor (Matthew Ludwinski) gets talked into making a film with a notorious porn director (Bruce Vilanch) in Q Cinema’s opening night film ‘Going Down in LA-LA Land.’

it’s in line with Cardoso’s constant clash between intellect and emotion. A couple of Ani DiFranco songs are well used to boost the film’s lez appeal, but your overall reaction will depend on whether you buy the central relationship. I didn’t.
— Steve Warren

Judas Kiss
It’s been fun to watch Charlie David mature as both an actor and a producer. He first shot to prominence in the supernatural gay soap Dante’s Cove, where being hot and naked were the primary criteria. He parlayed that gig into hosting duties for the Logo travelog Bump! and the gay romance Mulligans.

Now, in Judas Kiss, David gets to show off his strongest acting chops yet. He plays Zach Wells, a once-promising filmmaker who pissed away his potential on drugs and bad decisions. When he returns to his alma mater for a film festival, Zach meets his younger self, and gets the chance to fix the errors of his youth.

The supernatural element is more subtle here than Dante’s, which allows the idea behind it to come through: How difficult it is to be someone you aren’t, no matter how much information you have.

The production values are as slick and sophisticated as gay cinema gets, and there’s a deliberative, smart style to it.
— A.W.J.

The Schedule

All programs at the Rose Marine Theater, 1440 Main St., Fort Worth, except as noted

Going Down in LA-LA Land.
A gay newcomer find his way in Los Angeles, from porn to closeted movie stars. Filmmaker/stars in attendance.
Preceded by the short On the Bus.
June 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Going Down in Cowtown Opening Night Party
At the T&P Tavern, June 2 at 9:30 p.m.

Our Shorts Are Showing 1.
Program includes: The Colonel’s Outing, Nothing Happened, Freak, Slip Away, I was a Teenage Werebear,
plus a sneak peek at the new project from Israel Luna and Toni Miller, The Zombie Project.
June 3 at 6:30 p.m.

An app takes over the romantic life of a 30-year-old gay man suffering from the seven- year itch. Filmmaker/stars in attendance. Preceded by the short Waiting for Goliath.
June 3 at 8:45 p.m.

There’s an App for That Party.
At The Usual, June 3 at 10 p.m.

Our Shorts Are Showing 2.
Program includes: Amen, Tools 4 Fools, Stay, The Defenders, Under Pressure, Bedfellows, and It’s Just a Community Place.
June 4 at noon.

The Cost of Love.
A gay escort craves genuine love.
June 4 a 2 p.m.

Former lovers from a girl band reunite after a decade. Preceded by the short Allison My Love.
June 4 at 4 p.m.

2 Frogs in the West.
A French-Canadian hitchhiker finds herself attracted to a man and a woman at the same time. Preceded by the short Refuge.
June 4 at 6 p.m.

An Evening with Bruce Vilanch.
The LA-LA Land
co-star dishes (followed by a bowling after-party with Vilanch at Lucky Strike).
June 4 at 8 p.m.

We Were Here.
Documentary about the early days of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco. Preceded by the short Fucked.
June 5 at noon.

AIDS at 30: Panel Discussion.
June 5 at 2 p.m.

A college professor engages in a romance with her female student, a child star.
June 5 a 3 p.m.

Gun Hill Road.
A Latino man, newly out of prison, discovers his son is now transgender. Preceded by the short Professor Godoy.
June 4 at 4 p.m.

Judas Kiss.
Charlie David stars as a time-traveling filmmaker given a second chance. Filmmaker/stars in attendance. Preceded by the video Like It Rough.
June 4 at 6 p.m.

The Q Awards/Closing Night Party
June 4 at 9 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.