Arts & Culture

Philadelphia’s LGBTQ film festival will screen more than 100 features, documentaries and shorts during its weeklong run March 25-31. Among this year’s qFLIX offerings are several local-interest titles, as well as appearances by filmmakers.

One of the opening films is the world premiere of Philly-set-and-shot romance “From Zero to I Love You.” This glossy drama, written and directed by Doug Spearman, has the married-with-kids Jack Dickinson (Scott Bailey) unexpectedly falling for Pete Logsdon (Darryl Stephens). Their relationship, which includes sex on the down low, comes to an expected head when Pete wants Jack to leave his wife, Karla (Keili Lefkovitz).

 It’s been a tough week for the millions of fans of Michael Jackson, an iconic figure in American music, often referred to as “The King of Pop.” A month after the six-hour Lifetime documentary “Surviving R Kelly” resulted in R&B singer R Kelly being arrest on sexual assault charges and held on $1 million bail, HBO has aired a 236-minute documentary, “Leaving Neverland.”

CRACKING IT UP: Out cabaret singer and Philly superstar Martha Graham Cracker performs a special BYOB show, “Lashed But Not Unleashed,” an evening of original songs delivered with her usual over-the-top flair, March 14-16 at The Kimmel Center’s SEI Innovation Studio, 300 S. Broad St. For more information or tickets, call 215-893-1999. Photo: Gustavo Garcia

Nishta J. Mehra is a first-generation American, the daughter of Indian immigrants who was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. She now lives in Phoenix, Ariz., with her wife, who is white, and her adopted child, who is black.

In her new book of essays, “Brown White Black,” she paints a vivid picture of their experiences dealing with America’s rigid ideas of race, gender and sexuality, as well as her family’s daily struggle to make space for itself amid increasing social and idealistic divisions in society.

Places, everyone, places! The Women’s Film Festival is about to kick off its fifth year of presenting 10 days of films “By, for and about women.”

This year’s festival opens March 14 at The Kimmel Center with “This Changes Everything,” a documentary about gender equality in media that features a who’s-who of prominent women in the film industry, including Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, Sandra Oh, Reese Witherspoon, Taraji P. Henson, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett.

 If laughter is the best medicine, a new queer comedy series is ready to write prescriptions and let the healing begin.

A diverse lineup of out comedians recently brought its collective sense of humor to the small screen for “OUT on Stage,” a new live comedy showcase on Dekkoo, the streaming service for gay men.

 If only Ondi Timoner’s ambitious biopic, “Mapplethorpe,” was as stimulating as the titular artist’s work.

This disappointing film, opening March 8 at Landmark’s Ritz at the Bourse, never quite captures his essence. There is more feeling and emotion in his images of calla lilies and penises — images graciously loaned from the artist’s foundation, and prominently featured throughout the film — than there is in the actual drama that unfolds.

 We generally are lured out to King of Prussia to sample its culinary offerings in places that serve upscale comfort dishes in massive and visually stunning, expertly decorated spaces.

Our destination this time was J. Alexander’s, 256 Mall Blvd. Part of the nationwide contemporary American wood-fired cuisine chain, the eatery fits the area perfectly. The spacious, dimly lit venue delivers suburban charm with lots of dark wood, shiny surfaces and comfortable seating.

Creators of a musical to be staged in Philadelphia later this month took the contemporary abortion debate, with its economic and socio-political weight and its issues of misogyny and hypocrisy, and made it sing.

For at least three years, the Philly performance company Lightning Rod Special (LRS) has operated on the premise that the abortion debate and a woman’s right to control her own body could be put to music and a dark, satirical script. “The Appointment” is the result of that premise, and will premiere at the FringeArts High Pressure Fire Service Festival on March 20.

 

When it comes to musical theater with a huge vocal presence, if you’re calling in Michael LaFleur, you must mean business.

The out, live-show theater specialist behind razzle-dazzling large-scale showcases for Disney and Universal theme parks, as well as individual shows for Celine Dion and Sarah Brightman, knows how to transform something intimate into something with wide-scale appeal. He also understands the intricacies of dealing with divas.

 It has been a decade — International Women’s Day 2009, to be exact — since the final episode of “The L Word” aired on Showtime. Throughout six seasons, the groundbreaking series was the first to ever center lesbian and bisexual women.

And after 10 long, lesbian-less years, “The L Word” is coming back. 

OUT-LOUD LAUGHS: Comedians Frank Liotti, Jess Soloman and Eman El-Husseini converge upon the Bristol for the Out of the Closet Comedy Show, a night of queer comedy talent, 7:30-9 p.m. March 7 at The Comedy Works located in Georgine’s Restaurant, 1320 Newport Rd., Bristol, Pa. For more information or tickets, call 215-741-1661.

 Pet Shop Boys

“Agenda”

x2 Recordings Ltd.

www.petshopboys.co.uk

On this four-song EP, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, longtime purveyors of an alluringly aloof disco, lampoon boorish politicians, skewer social media and excoriate oligarchs. The duo’s synthesizer-driven dance music and literate lyrics combine to make protest songs that are satirical rather than sincere, which is good.

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