Keith Garcia's top five picks for the Cinema Q Film Festival

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Over the past five years, the Cinema Q Film Festival has grown from a handful of queer-centric films to a full-on weekend showcase of up-and-coming GLBTQ cinema. Keith Garcia, program director for the Sie FilmCenter, which will host the festival this weekend, says the 2013 season has a more diverse range of films -- and a much greater representation of African-American and lesbian work -- than prior years.

During the festival -- which kicks off this Thursday, July 18, and runs through through Sunday, July 21 -- a total of twenty films will be shown. Keep reading for Garcia's profiles of five of his favorites. And for a full lineup of films and ticket information, visit the Sie FilmCenter's website.

See also: - 100 Colorado Creatives: Keith Garcia, Denver Film Society - Best of Denver - Best GLBTQ-Spotlighting film festival: Cinema Q - Don't call him queen: Paul Soileau talks about more-punk-than-drag persona Christeene Vale

Before You Know It Screens: Festival opener, 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18 Director PJ Raval and subjects Dennis Creamer and Ty Martin will be on hand for a post-screening Question & Answer session.

We spend a lot of time within the GLBTQ rainbow figuring out who we are, and what angle of that rainbow we represent. We can forget something really important: we're all going to be a part of the same group in a few years, and that is the senior group. That group has no real concern about, are you gay, are you lesbian, are you bi -- it's more, what are you doing at this age? How are you going to figure out the rest of your life?

Before You Know It really introduces you three people who are in the midst of that question and does it in such a smart, fascinating and heartbreaking way. If you want to see a movie at Cinema Q that will make you cry, this is the one.

Interior. Leather Bar. and Cruising (double feature) Screens: 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday, July 19 Director Travis Mathews will be on hand for a post-screening Question & Answer session.

Travis Mathews is a filmmaker that I've had eye on for the last few years -- I'm fascinated with his direction in trying to explore something that doesn't really get pin-pointed (in film), and that's gay male intimacy. Porn is incredibly prevalent -- that's everywhere. You can find porn whenever you want it on the Internet. But there's a difference in finding actual, realistic, honest intimacy between men and what happens with that.

It's almost as if it's not marketable, as much as, say, porn is. The fact that he (Mathews) keeps an eye on that and keeps exploring that in different ways is really great. And how he fell into this project with James Franco, based on that leaning is also fascinating -- what does James Franco kind of bring to this as a celebrity, who everyone is always playing the guessing game with about whether or not he's gay or straight.

Then you have a film here that is essentially about the kind of scariness of not knowing what you may be. Adding on to that -- there's a dark element to that, and it is explored in Cruising. At the time, it was really controversial because it presented a dark side of the gay community, and that being sort of the first mainstream exposure of the gay community to the world, the gay community was not very happy about that.

But so many years later, what does that say about how far we've come, or how far we've gone back and come back around again? The pairing of these two films is really fantastic.

I Am Divine and Polyester (double feature) Screens: 9 p.m. and midnight Saturday, July 20 Actress Mink Stole will join the festival for a post-screening Question & Answer session.

There are a lot of people who, in the back of their minds, maybe know who Divine is, in the way that someone from the counterculture pops up. It's sort of like, who is that person? Oh, that's interesting -- that's a man in women's clothing. But there was so much more to Divine and what Divine did to move so many things forward for gay exposure in entertainment. Divine's story runs the gamut from movies to music to just being a celebrity.

And of course, with Polyester, that's my favorite Divine film. I have a penchant for soap operas, and that's very much a soap opera. It's one of the films where Divine wasn't playing "pretty." A lot of times, it's Divine's "pretty ugly" but it's still about being beautiful. In this, Divine is channeling a washed-up, beat-down Elizabeth Taylor.

We'll be showing it in Odorama -- so we have scratch and sniff cards for the audience.

G.B.F. Screens: Festival closer, 7 p.m. Sunday, July 21

It's our closing night film -- and it's from the creator of Jawbreaker. If you're a fan of Mean Girls and that campy, catty style of queer-infused cinema, than you'll love G.B.F. It's a great high school film that isn't dated. Every character in it is well-written, in the same vein of like, why Mean Girls feels better than most teen movies. Obviously, with that film, you have Tina Fey writing but G.B.F. was written by a newcomer George Northy and he has a really great way of writing so that each character in this film isn't just a teenage stereotype. They are fully-forned people with feelings.

The concept of the competition to win the gay best friend sounds really written-on-paper, but it's put out fabulously in this film. I think it's a great way to send off the festival on a high note.

Last Summer Screens: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20 Director Mark Thiedeman and actor Sam Pettit will join the festival for a post-screening Question & Answer session.

It takes place in Arkansas and it's about two small town teenage boys in love. One of them is about to go off to college and they know that they're breaking up, so they decide to spend their summer doing as much as possible together. It is just the most simple, elegant love story and it's shot beautifully. It's got a very Terrence Malick beauty in all the shots. It really paints Arkansas as a really beautiful place.

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