DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2013 queer flick picks: James Franco, Divine, and more

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      This year's  DOXA Documentary Film Festival (which runs from May 3 to 12) offers five queer selections that cover everything from queer history to coming-of-age stories.

      One title that's been getting plenty of buzz is the documentary hybrid Interior. Leather Bar. (May 10) by Travis Mathews and the ubiquitous James Franco. It's a recreation of 40-minutes of footage that was cut from a 1980 psychological thriller. Cruising starred Al Pacino as a police detective investigating murders in New York City's gay S&M scene, and edits were made in order to reduce an X-rating to R.

      With Interior. Leather Bar., Franco adds another gay film to a growing number of them on his resume, including playing Harvey Milk's lover Scott Smith in Milk and poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl. (In fact, Franco will receive the Ally Award at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on April 27 for his support of queer communities and cinema.)

      Meanwhile, the iconic and outrageous drag queen Divine gets the spotlight in I Am Divine (May 10). Jeffrey Schwarz's portrait takes an indepth look at the man who transformed himself from a childhood misfit to larger-than-life cult star who launched a film career with director John Waters as well as a disco recording career.

      Another portrait comes from Stephen Silha and Eric Slade, who chronicle the life of poet and filmmaker James Broughton in Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton (May 11). Broughton became a pioneer in West Coast experimental film and became known for 1968 cinematic celebration of sexual liberation, The Bed (see video below), which busted taboos about frontal nudity.

      God Loves Uganda (May 11) takes a look at the impact that American Christian fundamentalism is having in Uganda. The filmmakers capture missionaries waging their war on "sexual sin" while an American-influenced bill against homosexuality, featuring the death penalty, gains support. The film includes interviews with Ugandan teacher and gay activist David Kato just before he was murdered in 2011.

      Last but not least, the youth-oriented shorts program Empathy: Pass It On (May 8) offers a selection of four films about differences from Poland and the Netherlands. Among them is the Dutch film "Straight With You". Melvin is an 11-year-old boy who is out to his family but not to his classmates. But he's caught in a predicament when the coolest girl in the class sends him a love letter.

      Of course, there's plenty more in store at the festival, including other films about sexuality, women's issues, and related subjects. For more information, visit the DOXA website

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