Tonight was the fantastic first night of the 15th annual NC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival at the Carolina Theatre and I have already both had a blast and been annoyed out of a theater so I’m glad I got those out of the way.

First up on the docket tonight was the “mixed shorts” collection Everybody’s Having Sex… But Ryan:

Rubdown: Good production quality, super-hot actors, genuine chemistry between the leads and some great writing but it all still falls flat somehow. The actual events of the movie – aside from the flesh and the fantasy sequences – are about as compelling as a potato salad recipe and take up way too much of it compared to the rest. Excellent eye candy and actors making the best of what they’re given don’t wholly redeem it.

Waiting 4 Goliath: Extremely predictable but also extremely well-made and the characters were simultaneously sympathetic and unhappy with themselves or each other. It fastidiously colors between the lines but does so with real skill.

Little BFFs: Cheap, cynical and hilarious. It’s like an even cattier Robot Chicken. Well worth seeing.

Go Go Reject: A genuinely sexy, hot, funny and uplifting short. Every shorts collection I’ve ever seen at NCGLFF has contained at least one really winning anchor film and this is definitely the one for this collection. The important things in comedy, for me, are the delivery, the timing and the unflappable sincerity of the actors’ performances; as soon as an actor stops selling the role and starts mugging for the camera it falls flat. The lead works his ass off in this and manages to deliver a character who’s wholly naive, utterly sincere and completely sexy. It’s also interesting to see twinks challenge the muscle-god standard in gay male beauty. The lead is still absurdly hot to be playing a role that feels inferior but such is show business. The short itself manages to make its point, entertain while doing so and wrap things up without beating the audience about the head and neck with the morals hammer. Fantastic.

You Can’t Curry Love: Often clever in both craft and presentation but the seams show, usually when the camera’s eye cuts to stock footage. The story isn’t exactly full of surprises and a couple of the performances are pretty wooden and, overall, while I don’t want to say it used too broad a brush I will say there’s more line than lane by the time this paint truck goes by. That said, wicked hot leads and it got some real laughs. The main character’s obsession with an unavailable constant tease is something with which plenty of us can identify, too.

Everybody Is Having Sex… But Ryan: Well made, but it raises that age-old question of why so many best friend characters are such insufferable twats. This question overpowers everything else the movie might have to say.

Deaf Relay: At Your Service: Incredibly funny and magnificently written. The audience cracked up repeatedly throughout and I would love to get a chance to talk to the filmmaker at some point because she’s actually in attendance at the festival.

Later I went back for a different set of “mixed” shorts called The Wolf With the Red Roses:

Little Love: I only caught the very end but it was extremely well-made and the performances I saw were touching and sincere.

Closure: A tad “film class final project” at times, and it felt very nineteen, but the people who made this are going to make something truly great sooner or later. Halfway through it the ancient old dried up husk of a queen two seats to my left yawned in this ridiculously melodramatic way and frankly that made me like the movie even more.

Remission: Disturbing and creepy and very genuinely moving. I can’t talk about the content itself without spoiling the film so I won’t say anything other than the performance is really humane and touching and when the film wants to take a hard left turn into creepy it does so with gusto and to tremendous effect. This is possibly the best short out of both programs and one of the best dramatic or horror shorts I’ve ever seen at NCGLFF. It was what made me want to see this collection and it really did not disappoint. This short would have been right at home at NEVERMORE and in any given year it would be one of the best things shown at that very fine festival, too.

That said, the same bitter old queen next to me – and his date – hated it and they weren’t letting anyone get out of there without them knowing that. They made audible comments throughout, laughed at moments of simple human vulnerability and then mocked it when it was over. I stood up to leave between films because I refused to sit there and listen to them any longer and one of them said to me, “Can’t take it anymore?”

I replied, “Of the company, no,” which got a miffed little “hmph” out of the other. “Maybe you’d prefer to rent it and watch it at home,” I said, and that didn’t get any response except a laugh from somewhere else in the theater. Yes, we are a dynamic and active community and yes as the resident custodians of culture it is as often our job to criticize as it is to curate, but goddamn it my ticket was worth just as much as theirs and I didn’t pay to hear their opinions. What the fuck is wrong with people? If someone is so cynical they can’t manage to squeeze out a single bead of sympathy for what was a genuinely moving story and a stark example of personal horror, why are they bothering to watch the films in the first place?

So, having gotten my requisite hating-another-patron-for-running-their-fucking-mouth out of the way for the weekend, I look forward to being able to enjoy myself tomorrow night.