Annual Flaming Film Festival opens May 25

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As if Lisa Ganser didn’t have enough on her plate with programming, promoting and drumming up financial support for the annual Flaming Film Festival, this year she’s picking up slack for its defunct big-sister event, the LGBT Film Festival.

The Flaming Film Festival, a weeklong celebration of queer films that brings local and national work to area screens, used to take a back seat to the larger event. But Minnesota Film Arts abandoned its long-running LGBT Film Festival after its 2004 run, citing low attendance and “a lack of internal connections to the [LGBT] community.”

So the Flaming Film Festival, which typically serves its movies raw, is taking on some near-mainstream fare. For instance, All Aboard!, a movie about Rosie and Kelli O’Donnell’s gay-friendly family cruise, opens the festival on May 25.

Ganser hopes the sleeker pieces will draw new viewers, but she acknowledges the risk of losing street cred. “Our built-in community is looking for something more edgy,” she said.

And edgy they’ve got. Director Ellen Flanders’ Zero Degrees of Separation documents Israeli-Palestinian violence through lens of gay and lesbian cross-border relationships. Also, guest curator Lisa Vandever showcases collections of “sexplicit” erotica, including leather-fetish films. It’s the kind of 18-plus material that, in the past, has had some folks dismissing the fest as too flaming. Three out of 25 screenings this year are adult-only because of sexually explicit material, Ganser said. “That’s 12 percent! I think most people have 12 percent of their sexuality that they don’t show.”

Flaming Film Festival also forges relationships between filmmakers and viewers. Director Samantha Farinella joins the audience for a screening of Left Lane; the film follows spoken word artist Alix Olson on a nationwide tour. Local singer-songwriter Ellis follows All Aboard! with a live performance. This year’s fest also includes three youth screenings—those 21 and younger get in free.

Flaming Film Festival: May 25-31. Various Minneapolis venues. Tickets $7. “www.flamingfilmfestival.com”:http://www.flamingfilmfestival.com

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