Queer cinema is on display this week in Austin, as the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival continues. Here are some highlights.

Director Jacques Nolot's Before I Forget takes a physiological look at the impact of growing old, when youth was your elixir. For Pierre, our 60-year-old protagonist, who has worked as a male escort in Paris since his teens, growing old leaves him uniquely vulnerable. Now the roles are reversed, and Pierre pays boys for sex, but the old whore gives us a good story.

“We've been conditioned to disparage, pity or entirely ignore older gay men from the moment we became a community,” writes Richard Knight of the Chicago Film Critics Association. “But Before I Forget refuses to go that route by being tough, flinty and refreshing in its emotional honesty – a great film with a tremendous performance from Nolot. C'est magnifique!”

Director Lucia Puenzo's XXY is the story of Alex. Raised a girl her entire life she possesses both male and female sets of reproductive organs. Now at puberty she is being asked to “choose” her sex by her parents who have invited a plastic surgeon to discuss the issue with her. Complications arise when Alex develops a crush on Alvaro, the surgeon's teenage son. He also is suffering gender identity issues. Alex's search for her true identity forces both families to face their worst fears.

The film's powerful message of love transcending sexuality is only heightened by its beautiful backgrounds and dramatic visual style.

Director Yen Tan's Ciao is a powerful film that speaks about the strength of love. When a man dies, two men find each other as they correspond over the Internet to discuss their loss. Lives are altered forever when the pair continue their friendship.

AfterElton.com said Ciao was “the best gay movie I've seen all year.”

Finally, director Tom Gustafson's spellbinding gay musical fantasy Were The World Mine – a feature length follow-up to his award-winning short film Fairies and winner of Outfest's Heineken Red Star Award for Outstanding U.S. Dramatic Feature – should not be missed.

Timothy is elated when his eccentric teacher casts him as mischievous Puck in a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Timothy, a social outcast in a homophobic community, loves Jonathon. Soon he discovers a potion that allows him to turn his town gay and make Jonathon love him. What happens when he reluctantly gives up his control over the town?

Audiences at Outfest, Los Angele's gay & lesbian film festival, roared to their feet at the conclusion of Were The World Mine. And that, from a small budget movie, is worth an award.

On the net: Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival at www.agliff.bside.com/2008

Gay Entertainment Report is a feature of On Top Magazine and can be reached at ontopmag@ontopmag.com.