Oct. 10--NORMAL -- When director Aaron Hose was shopping around for film festivals several months ago, an online search brought up something called the "Your Normal LGBT Film Festival."
The Florida-based director of the documentary, "Break Through," wasn't quite sure about the festival's name.
"What are they trying to say?," he first wondered. "That this is a normal kind of LGBT festival?"
He arrived at a fuller realization when he noticed that the fest is based in a Central Illinois town called Normal and housed at a cinema called the Normal Theater.
Your Normal, indeed.
For the record, "Break Through" is no stranger to the festival circuit, having played at events around the country and as far afield as South Africa over the past year, says Hose (pronounced Ho-SAY).
The film offers a look at a group of theater students at the University of Central Florida who come together to produce a play aimed at shedding light on the array of stigmas and equality-rights issues faced by LGBT youth.
Throughout the creative process, they are shown facing the truths about themselves and their families.
In the end, they learn the importance of self-acceptance and of overcoming their fears, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
Not only was "Break Through" accepted for the Your Normal LGBT Film Festival -- now in its fourth year at the Normal Theater -- it was slotted as festival opener, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, kicking off the five-day festival.
"To me, this is a very small niche film with no big names," says Hose.
That is why he's gratified to be at the head of a lineup that ranges from the latest comedy from Spain's superstar director, Pedro Aldomovar, to proven festival hot-shots like "G.B.F." and "Geography Club."
The film, he notes, was born almost by accident.
A video producer at the University of Central Florida, Hose was tapped to produce a one-minute promotional video on the theater department's latest production.
But once he got a taste of what was going on at rehearsal -- involving a cast and crew of around 40 who are half straight and half not -- Hose saw something more worthwhile for filming than a promo short.
"I'm a guy who turned a blind eye to was going on in the LGBT community here ... I didn't really know the day-to-day issues," he says. "I was hearing these powerful stories that needed to be told."
Those stories comprise the running time, which Hose cut to a tight 61 minutes (the film will be followed by a Q&A session, possibly including a lead character from the documentary, Gabriella Shulruff, of the University of Central Florida theater faculty; her appearance had not been confirmed as of press time).
Unlike many LGBT-themed documentaries, "this film is not all negative blood, sweat and tears," says Hose. "It shows that things really are getting better. It's uplifting .... and empowering."
Though the remaining festival titles are ticketed, opening night for "Break Through" is free admission.
Following are thumbnail previews of remaining five films in the 4th Annual Your Normal LGBT Film Festival, which continues through Oct. 20. Admission is $7 at the door; a $25 festival pass is available from festival committee members, with information on that option available at www.yournormalfilmfest.com.
Oct. 17: I'm So Excited (2013, 90 min.), 7 p.m., the latest offering from famed Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, described as a lighthearted comedy centered on what may be the last moments of a plane's bizarre passengers and its colorful crew.
Oct. 18: Reaching for the Moon (2013, 118 min.), 7 p.m., a depiction of the Brazilian heyday of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop and her tragic love affair with Lota De Macedo Soares, designer of Rio's famed Flamengo Park.
Oct. 19: Ian Harvie: Superhero (2013, 75 min.), 4 p.m., featuring transgender stand-up comedian Harvie in a sex-positive look at his own transition.
Oct. 19: Geography Club (2013, 83 min.), 7 p.m., starring Scott Bakula and Ana Gasteyer in the story of an after-school club comprised of students of varying sexual orientations.
Oct. 20: G.B.F. (2013, 92 min.), 7 p.m., about a teen who comes out as gay in high school and earns the status of Gay Best Friend (hence, the title); stars Natasha Lyonne, Evanna Lynch Horatio Sanz, Megan Mullally and Jona-than Silverman.
What: "Break Through," opening night at 4th Annual Your Normal LGBT Film Festival
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Normal Theater, 209 W. North St.
Admission: Opening night, free; $7 for remaining festival nights, Oct. 17-20
(c)2013 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)
Visit The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) at www.pantagraph.com
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