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Tuesday, June 4, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Semi-Documentary `Man Of The Year' At Festival

Seattle Times Movie Reviewer

Dirk Shafer, a once-closeted gay man who was Playgirl's 1992 Centerfold of the Year, tells his own story in the semi-documentary "Man of the Year" at 9:30 tonight at the Harvard Exit.

Written, directed by and starring Shafer, the movie is an ironic mixture of real footage of his television appearances and dramatic recreations of his coming-out process. The cast includes Fabio, Vivian Paxton and Claudette Sutherland.

Also making their debuts tonight at the festival are the Dutch movie, "Little Sister"; an American documentary about Belfast families, "A Leap of Faith"; and a children's film set in 1960 Dublin, "The Boy From Mercury."

Here's the rest of today's schedule: Egyptian

5 p.m. - "Other Voices, Other Rooms." An adaptation of Truman Capote's first novel, about growing up in the rural South during the late 1930s, starring Lothaire Bluteau ("Jesus of Montreal") and Anna Thomson ("Angela").

7:15 p.m. - "Cold Fever." Director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, whose memorable 1991 Iceland production "Children of Nature" was nominated for an Academy Award, is back with this story of sacrifices made for a sacred memorial service. The cast includes Fisher Stevens, Japanese rock star Atsushi Hirata and the ubiquitous Lili Taylor.

9:30 p.m. - "Notes From Underground." In this creepy Kafkaesque update of the Dostoevsky novella, Henry Czerny gives a fearless performance as an inept civil servant who makes a hash of his social life, alienating his college buddies and abusing a prostitute (Sheryl Lee) who responds to his sensitivity and fails to notice his cruelty and profound isolation. Harvard Exit

5 p.m. - "Eden." This made-in-Seattle movie plays like a metaphysical variation on "Tea and Sympathy," with Sean Patrick Flanery in the role of the confused prep-school boy, Joanna Going as the older woman closest to him and Dylan Walsh as her macho husband. It's distinguished by Going's haunting performance, the perceptive dramatization of growing student rebellion in a specific year (1965) and writer-director Howard Goldberg's refreshing avoidance of cliches about the period.

7:15 p.m. - "Little Sister." Subjective-camera account of a romantic triangle that brings a secret out into the open. Holland's "Antonia's Line" may have won the Oscar for best foreign film this year, but this Dutch movie eclipsed it at the Dutch film awards.

9:30 p.m. - "Man of the Year." See above.

Broadway Performance Hall

5 p.m. - "A Leap of Faith." Liam Neeson narrates this American documentary, filmed over a period of five years, about four Belfast families who bring Catholic and Protestant children together in the Cranmore Integrated Primary School.

7:15 p.m. - "The Boy From Mercury." U.S. premiere of a sweet, small, engagingly acted Italian/French/British coproduction about an eight-year-old boy who is addicted to "Flash Gordon" serials and convinced he's really a citizen of the planet Mercury. The cast includes Tom Courtenay, Rita Tushingham and Hugh O'Conor.

9:30 p.m. - "Palookaville." Alan Taylor's entertaining tale of three would-be crooks (William Forsythe, Vincent Gallo and Adam Trese from "Laws of Gravity") who can't make money at their crimes and just end up irritating their significant others. Inspired by the 1958 Italian comedy classic, "Big Deal on Madonna Street," it's more successful than the official American remake, 1984's "Crackers." Guild 45th

5 p.m. - "Vite Strozzate." Slickly handled, awfully familiar talian thriller about an architect who finds himself involved with the Mafia when he takes on a construction project. Directed by Ricky Tognazzi ("La Scorta"). Ennio Morricone did the score.

7:15 p.m. - "Zero Degrees Kelvin." Norwegian film from Hans Petter Moland, the director of the engrossing World War II drama, "The Last Lieutenant." Stellan Skarsgard stars as a hunter who teaches a city boy how to hunt for fur-trading companies. Grim stuff, exceptionally well-handled.

9:30 p.m. - "Cadillac Ranch." Suzy Amis almost manages to make this Texas road movie bearable. She's a straight-talking stripper who gets together with her sisters to dig up evidence of their father's innocence in a murder case. Unfortunately, the script gets sidetracked with a fairy-tale romance between one sister and a poetry-spouting gas-station attendant.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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