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Originally published Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 5:31 AM

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‘I Am Divine’ kicks off Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

The 2013 Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, now in its 18th year, includes dozens of shorts and features at various venues Oct. 10-20.

Special to The Seattle Times

FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW

The 2013 Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Oct. 10-20 at various theaters. For more information on schedule and ticket prices: 206-323-4274 or threedollarbillcinema.org.

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The Egyptian, the theater most identified with the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, has closed and won’t be part of this year’s marathon. But the festival, the largest event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, will be back in October (which is LGBT History Month) at the Harvard Exit, Pacific Place and Northwest Film Forum. Opening night Thursday will again be held at Cinerama.

Dozens of shorts and features will be screened, including such titles as “Born This Way,” “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me,” “Southern Baptist Sissies” and a Cannes Film Festival prizewinner, “Stranger by the Lake,” a thriller set on a nude beach.

Now in its 18th year, the festival lifts off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with a Cinerama screening of Jeffrey Schwarz’s “I Am Divine,” a documentary about the late gay icon who starred in John Waters’ “Hairspray” (which became a Broadway musical and Hollywood movie) and served as the basis of Waters’ book, “Shock Value.”

According to the festival, a “Divine-ly inspired party” will follow the film, which uses plentiful archival material to demonstrate what made Divine a unique LGBT figure. A quarter of a century after Divine’s death, Schwarz set out to capture the essence of a male character actor who specialized in female roles. Divine did not see himself as a drag queen.

The festival’s “Centerpiece” section calls attention to “Stranger by the Lake” (7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Pacific Place) and two other films: “Reaching for the Moon,” a well-crafted bohemian Rio de Janeiro story of the love affair between a poet and an architect (7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Harvard Exit), and “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley,” a feature-length appreciation of the lesbian African-American comedian (7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Pacific Place).

Some of the festival films had earlier screenings at the Seattle International Film Festival last spring, including “Geography Club,” “Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton” and an impressive AIDS drama, “Test,” which is set in the early days of the epidemic in San Francisco.

“The Falls: Testament of Love,” a sequel to one of last year’s best festival films, “The Falls,” will be screened at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Harvard Exit. It takes place in Seattle and Salt Lake City, where the Mormon missionaries of “The Falls” have set up separate households.

The closing-night film, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at Pacific Place, is “The Happy Sad,” about the sexual identity of two couples — one black and gay, one white and straight.

Also part of the festival are several live events, including “Return to Grey Gardens,” with Jinkx Monsoon and Peaches Christ. It will be followed by a screening of the original “Grey Gardens” (the program begins at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Harvard Exit).

The festival has a new artistic director, Keith Bacon. He takes over for Jason Plourde, who now becomes executive director of Three Dollar Bill Cinema, a nonprofit organization offering programs such as the festival, “Gender Failure,” “Real Queer Youth” and Outdoor Cinema at Cal Anderson Park.

John Hartl: johnhartl@yahoo.com

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