Out lesbian director Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” opening Feb. 21 at the Ritz Five, is an exquisite, exceptional romantic drama. Set in the 1700s, the film opens at an art school where Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is teaching drawing. Her attention, however, is suddenly arrested by the titular painting, and the film flashes back to the time when Marianne was commissioned to paint Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). 

Out actress Kristin Stewart plays the title character in “Seberg,” an engrossing character study opening at area theaters on Feb. 28. The film, directed by Benedict Andrews, and written by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, traces the actress-turned-activist Seberg’s life starting in May 1968. The story focuses on a specific period of her life — when she was under surveillance by the FBI for her association with the Black Panther Party. This approach allows viewers to understand and appreciate the difficulties the actress faced under a specific kind of scrutiny. While there are references to her best-known films, “Joan of Arc” (and director Otto Preminger’s cruel treatment of her) and “Breathless,” “Seberg” is hardly a hagiography. 

With Valentine’s Day approaching, sometimes a romantic dinner and a movie can be best enjoyed at home. With all the DVD, VOD and streaming options on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, there are millions of options. Here are a half dozen LGBT films to consider cuddling up with on Valentine’s Day. 

"Stories of Our Lives" is an excellent, hour-long anthology film featuring five shorts about queer life in Kenya. The film will screen Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at Scribe Video Center. After the screening, there will be a livestream Q&A with members of The Nest Collective, a Nairobi-based arts initiative, which collected personal stories about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex Kenyans that prompted the film.

Earlier this month, Ritz at the Bourse management delivered this statement to moviegoers: "We regret to inform you that the Ritz at the Bourse is closing. Thank you for your continued patronage and we look forward to serving you at the Ritz East and the Ritz Five." The message relayed the last showings would be on Jan. 26, and the theatre officially would close on Jan. 31. 

 

“Cunningham,” Alla Kovgan’s entrancing documentary about out gay choreographer Merce Cunningham, celebrates its subject by tracing his work over 30 years, from 1942 to 1972. (His career spanned 70 years). The film, which was shot in 3D, opens in 2D format today at the Landmark Ritz Five cinema.

 

The Philadelphia-based independent film distribution company, Breaking Glass Pictures, just celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Co-founded by Richard Wolff and the openly gay Richard Ross — and named after a David Bowie song — Breaking Glass has been committed to acquiring and promoting LGBTQ films (among other titles). 

There were some great, several good — or very good — and a handful of bad – or very bad — LGBT films that screened in Philadelphia in 2019. Here is a recap of the year’s best and worst as well as a handful of titles worth watching.

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