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Originally published Sunday, October 9, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Gay and Lesbian film fest celebrates 10th anniversary

An ABBA Sing-A-Long at the Cinerama. A gender-reassignment movie starring Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives. " Documentaries about gay...

Special to the Seattle Times

An ABBA Sing-A-Long at the Cinerama.

A gender-reassignment movie starring Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives."

Documentaries about gay Republicans, porn stars, excommunicated Mormons and women who love gay men.

Dozens of shorts with titles like "Straight Hike for the Butch Dyke" and "Gay Men and Their Hair Loss."

The Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary with all of this and a great deal more. Beginning Friday, it's expanding from a weeklong event to a 10-day festival that begins and ends at the Cinerama. It also includes events at half-a-dozen other locations, including the Harvard Exit, Broadway Performance Hall, Egyptian and Northwest Film Forum.

"We've got more than 150 films [features and shorts]," said Jason Plourde, the programming director, who has been with the festival since its official debut in 1996. "We now get twice as many submissions as we can program."

The crowded new schedule includes a workshop with veteran director Daniel Minahan ("Six Feet Under"), a gay Bollywood film, a gender-bender college movie called "Freshman Orientation," a sneak preview of a new comedy, a panel discussion focused on women in cinema, plus the Northwest premieres of "Fingersmith," the filmed-in-Oregon "Say Uncle" and the tense German drama "Unveiled."

Coming up

Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Friday through Oct. 23, various Seattle venues. Tickets $3 to $25; most events are $9. Full festival passes are $175. Tickets: 206-325-6500, www.ticketwindow.com Festival info: 206-323-4274 or www.seattlequeerfilm.com

"The machine was well-moving by the time I got here last year," said Rachael Brister, recently installed as the new festival director. She worked for nine years at a Rochester, N.Y., gay film festival before arriving in Seattle. She and Plourde got to know each other over the phone, making scheduling decisions because the Seattle and Rochester festivals often had to share films and videos.

The growing popularity of gay films has been demonstrated not just by the festival but by "Will & Grace" on network television and "Queer As Folk" and "The L Word" on cable. The festival program includes large ads for Q, Logo and Here, three gay-oriented channels that have recently turned up on digital cable.

"We have so many sponsors who come back year after year," said Brister. "They recognize us a way to access the lesbian and gay community."

The centerpiece event of the festival, "Unveiled" (7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Cinerama), is the story of an Iranian lesbian who pretends to be a man to attain political asylum in Germany. Skillfully directed by Angelina Maccarone (whose "Everything Will Be Fine" played the 1999 festival), with a fine performance by Jasmin Tabatabai in the central role, it suggests a mixture of "Boys Don't Cry" and "The Crying Game."

The official opening-night movie is "Say Uncle" (8 p.m. Friday at the Cinerama), a dark comedy about a genial father figure who is mistaken for a pedophile.

"You see a lot of it through his eyes," said Brister. "It's based on the director's experiences in Portland," said Plourde. "It has a very Northwest feel."

Also playing that day, at the Harvard Exit, are "A Boy Named Jason" (4 p.m.), about a high-school student's first gay crush; and "The Gardener" (10:30 p.m), a 1975 thriller featuring Warhol star Joe Dallesandro as a gardener with a deadly touch.

It's one of several revivals in the festival, which is emphasizing the 1970s with screenings of "Saturday Night at the Baths" and "ABBA: The Movie," which was directed in 1977 by future Oscar nominee Lasse Hallstrom ("The Cider House Rules," "My Life as a Dog"). Also part of the nostalgia lineup are a couple of relatively new films, "Gay Sex in the 1970s" and "That Man: Peter Berlin," which was previously shown at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Other revivals include "The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love," a sing-along midnight-movie presentation of Madonna's "Truth or Dare" (led by drag star Peaches Christ), and "Beautiful Thing," the charming British movie that kicked off the first Seattle Lesbian and Gay Festival a decade ago.

Also on the schedule: an engrossing Seattle-based documentary, "Inlaws & Outlaws"; a provocative portrait of a homophobic Texas town, "The Education of Shelby Knox"; a documentary about Seattle's cross-dressing Queen Bees, "Love Letter"; and a free program of shorts at the Capitol Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library.

Audience awards and juried prizes will be presented on closing night, when Duncan Tucker's "Transamerica," starring Felicity Huffman and Elizabeth Peña, will have its Northwest premiere at the Cinerama (8 p.m. Oct. 23). Duncan's short, "The Mountain King," was shown at the 2000 festival.

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