Cleveland's 33rd International Film Festival unspooled Thursday at its downtown home of Tower City Center. Its queer-themed 10% Cinema program offers Clevelanders 10 rainbow hued cinematic treasures from all ends of the Earth.

As Congress prepares to debate ending the military's 16-year-old ban on open gay service, director Johnny Symons focuses his documentary lens on the true national and human costs of “don't ask, don't tell.”

Ask Not delivers compelling insight on the policy's failure – a group of young gays attempt to enlist openly, interviews with veterans expose hidden flaws, and a video diary from a closeted soldier as he heads off to Iraq vividly unmasks the pain of the policy – making it a must see film.

Israeli writer/directorYair Hochner's Antarctica seeks to thaw out the hearts of two lost souls. On his 30th birthday, Omer is drowning himself in work at the library. Shirley, Omer's little sister, is having an affair with her boss. Both seem to be locked in a perpetual cycle of unhappiness when Ronen, the handsome journalist, enters their lives. Will their frozen hearts thaw?

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

Another treat for audiences attending the ten-day festival will be the screening of Director Nacho G. Velilla's Fuera De Carta (Chef's Special).

Restaurateur Maxi prefers an uncomplicated and unattached love life. All this changes when a hot Argentine ex-football player moves in next door. Comedy ensues as Maxi struggles to remain in the closet to his staff and family. The Spanish newspaper Diario El Mundo called the Spanish film “inspired.”

Find out why tiny town Trinidad, Colorado is known as “the sex change capital of the world” in Trinidad.

Directed by P.J. Raval and Jay Hodges, the documentary explores the life of Dr. Marci Bowers, who has relocated to Trinidad to replace Dr. Stanley Biber. Biber performed one of the first gender reassignment surgeries in 1969. About half the patients in Bowers' waiting room are female OB/GYN clients. But the other half seek her out for the surgery that has made her the “Barack Obama of gender.” Patients with whom Bowers can relate. She was once Dr. Mark Bowers, father of three.

CIFF began programming the successful GLBT-themed 10% Cinema sidebar in 1993.

“The gay community is heavily arts-oriented – it's one of our core audiences,” CIFF Artistic Director Bill Guentzler told The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Also being screened at the festival will be: Between Love And Goodbye, I Can't Even Think Straight, Jay, A Place To Live: The Story Of The Triangle, Square and Whirlwind.

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