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Out & About in Cleveland

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The Cleveland International Film Festival

On Thursday night we went to the Cleveland Film Festival to watch a documentary promoted by Plexus titled "Tab Hunter Confidential" about the actor/singer Tab Hunter who was the top box office star at Warner Brothers from 1955 to 1959. The film chronicled Mr. Hunter's career and the problems that he faced for being gay at a time when this was forbidden. Despite threats of tabloid exposure, Mr. Hunter still enjoyed a robust career until his wholesome, All-American boy image became outdated in the 1960's. After a brief comeback in the 1980's when he starred in the cult classics "Polyester" and "Lust in the Dust" Mr. Hunter retired from acting. Today, according to the film, he has a long-standing fulfilling relationship with Mr. Allan Glaser, a former studio executive who co-produced this film; is a very accomplished equestrian; and is very much at peace with himself. Because of this we left the film feeling very upbeat and very admiring of Mr. Hunter who, while never a great talent, certainly worked hard and made the most of what he had.

By his own admission, Mr. Hunter's acting in this first few pictures was tentative, at best, but he developed an ease before the camera and his performances got better and better. He was a pretty good singer too as evidenced by the popularity of his recordings of such songs as "Young Love" as well as being a fine athlete who particularly excelled at figure skating.

We also really liked his mother, Ms. Gertrude Gelien, who immigrated to the United States from Germany before she married and had a family, because she had the courage to get out of the abusive relationship that she had with Mr. Hunter's father and raise her two sons all by herself. Mr. Hunter affectionately referred to his mother as the "poor man's Marlene Dietrich" and he took good care of her when her mental health declined. It was very hard for both Mr. Hunter and his mother when his older brother, Walt, who Mr. Hunter looked up to as a role model, was killed in Vietnam in the 1960's.

"Tab Hunter Confidential" will also screen on Saturday, March 21st, at 2:40pm (this is a sellout) and on Saturday, March 28th, at 6pm at the Cinemark at Valley View.

Before the film started we attended a Plexus Happy Hour at the Ritz Carlton, where we met Ms. Lisa Sands who has been working with the Cleveland Film Festival for the past five months as part of its seasonal staff. Ms. Sands shared with us a lot about how everyone involved with the festival works to give the attendees a good experience there. Ms. Sands referred to the Cleveland Film Festival as the "Nordstrom of film festivals" because customer satisfaction is paramount. She also said, "I have never met a volunteer who is not in love with the festival."

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