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127 hours of gay cinema, give or take

With his returning Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, organizer Franc Castro aims to strike an ambitious balance between provocative and fierce movies. And Castro is not sorry if that balance sometimes tilts toward the fiercer side of things with the introduction of new films "Hot Guys With Guns" and the tasteful and not-very-literary "Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?"

That's not a typo.

"I can't even say 'Virginia' anymore with a straight face. I always want to say, 'vagina,' " Castro says with a laugh. "I actually love the film, and part of the plot is based on Edward Albee's play. It has a very sweet message and there is a very funny moment when the main character works as a sign spinner for a gynecologist’s office, and she has to wear this very-fitting, hysterical costume.”

Director Anna Margarita Albelo's movie about a 40-year-old filmmaker who adapts an all-female version of Albee's play will join more than 60 feature films, shorts and documentaries at the 15th edition of the festival, opening 8:30 p.m. Friday with the Southeast premiere of Darren Stein's gay-teen comedy "G.B.F."

And the festival will get an early jolt of star power when actor and hipster icon James Franco shows up Saturday to accept the HBO Latin America Ally Award (9 p.m., Olympia Theater at Gusman Center) for his advocacy in the LGBT community. Franco, whose LGBT-friendly roles have included Gus Van Sant's biopic "Milk" and the Allen Ginsberg biopic "Howl," last year began an ambitious side project with friend and gay filmmaker Travis Matthews titled "Interior. Leather Bar." (also playing 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Colony Theatre).

"Franco wanted to do a doc about 'Cruising,' an Al Pacino film in the '80s where 40 minutes were trimmed from the film to prevent it from getting an 'X' rating," Castro says. "So the movie's about James trying to re-create those missing 40 minutes by casting new actors. He's met with resistance because talent agents don't want their actors involved in a 'fag Franco film.' "

Another recognizable face among Castro's lineup is that of Harris Glenn Milstead, better known to John Waters fans as the 300-pound drag queen Divine. In his documentary "I Am Divine," (8:30 p.m. May 3), Los Angeles director Jeffrey Schwarz probes the effusive character actor's early Baltimore life as a closeted teen with a steady girlfriend, until his death in 1988 at the height of his popularity.

"He was able to take all that anger and rage of being picked on as a kid and turn it into being an empowered drag performer with self-acceptance," Schwarz says. "He was the queen mother for us all."

The 15th annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival runs April 26-May 5 at various Miami and Miami Beach theaters. Tickets cost $9-$14. Call 305-751-6305 or go to

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