The 15th annual Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival starts on a poignant note this weekend—the fest's best films are about the awful impermanence of romantic connection.


This documentary opens where


ends, and there is something wantonly sadistic about how Harvey Milk's killing, which so galvanized the Castro community, was the opening shot of a massacre. The speed and ruthlessness of the onset of AIDS was staggering—by the time a test was available, 50 percent of the gay men in San Francisco were infected—and QDoc co-founder David Weissman's intimate recounting of the human toll can't help feeling like an unremitting dirge. The movie is filled with agonizing memories—doomed men warning each other of some "gay cancer," young lovers saying goodbye (if lucky), an entire room of doctors breaking down sobbing—and it is softened only by the kindness San Francisco's gays and lesbians showed each other in the hours of their deaths. It is heartrending how much this movie feels like the story of soldiers conscripted into a war after making love. (AM)

7:30 pm Friday, Sept. 30.

When a man in a Germanic military cap asks a crowd, "Will you stand with me?" that is traditionally an excellent moment to leave that crowd. But this man is addressing Chicago's International Mr. Leather Contest, his speech is featured in the documentary

Kink Crusaders

, and the movie is an encore from this year's CineKink—all far more healthy stuff than the average cop-union rally. The paradox of fetish is that it blossoms when it's a little illicit, and the phenomenon of leather parades—or movies about the parades—makes the aficionados seem almost as silly as a Shriners Club. But hey: Whatever makes you stand up. (AM)

9:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 1.

75 Adolescence is difficult enough without adding gender confusion to the mix. Twenty-year-old Lukas (Rick Okon) is going through male puberty, medically triggered, as he was initially a she. Daily occurrences are awkward and confusing as Lukas tries to navigate a world not fit for him yet. Luckily, his best friend has stuck by him through his transformation; she comforts him when things are difficult—things become very difficult when Lukas falls for another young man. Sabine Bernardi's German film Romeos tackles a difficult subject with grace. It can be tortuous to watch Lukas walk the line between male and female, but he knows who he is, and he feels so certain of it that he's willing to do anything to become that person. (MS) 5 pm Sunday, Oct. 2.

90 Weekend details one of the most authentic and intimate beginnings of a relationship I’ve ever seen. Two men meet at a gay club in Nottingham, England, at the beginning of the weekend and find themselves completely engrossed in each other’s company, laughing back and forth at what the other one has to say. Over the weekend, they drink, smoke, snort, talk, make love, and try to make the most of their sole weekend together (one is relocating to our very own Portland at the end of the weekend). Tom Cullen and Chris New are exceptional as the main characters. Their chemistry is astounding. The film is beautifully shot by director Andrew Haigh, leaving the audience aghast at life’s inexplicable bad timing but dynamized at the chance of connecting with someone who shakes your very core in just a couple of days. (MS) 7 pm Sunday, Oct. 2.

SEE IT: The Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival screens at Cinema 21 Friday-Saturday, Sept. 30-Oct. 8. Find a full schedule at