Frameline Approaches :: Here’s the low-down
Last week, Frameline executive director K.C. Price and director of exhibition & programming Desiree Buford graciously met with Out There in their offices overlooking unlovely 9th St. and gave us the low-down on what’s in store for the 36th San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, coming right up on June 14-24.
If there’s a more iconic figure in gay film studies than the late film scholar and LGBT activist Vito Russo, then we don’t know who it could be. Director Jeffrey Schwartz’s Vito will be that rare documentary to open the festival, and it will highlight Russo’s Bay Area years - there’s even a scene in the Castro Theatre, Price told us, which should get a rousing reception in the Castro Theatre. Meta!
"Centerpiece" films will be Call Me Kuchu, centering on the courageous gay activist David Kato, who was brutally murdered in repressive Uganda; and Ira Sachs’ critically lauded Keep the Lights On. Closing night will bring us actors Brenda Flicker and the sassy-talking Olympia Dukakis ("she swears like a trucker" in the film, Buford told us) as a longtime couple in Thom Fitzgerald ’s Cloudburst. "It’s a beautiful portrayal of two old broads who have a tender affection," Buford said. "Fans of Hannah Free will love it."
Do you remember Gregg Araki’s The Living End?
The festival will celebrate the 20th anniversary of New Queer Cinema by screening four features from that era: All Over Me, Head On, The Living End and The Watermelon Woman - it will be interesting to see how these films hold up; and by bestowing the Frameline Award to the term’s coiner, queer scholar B. Ruby Rich. Price and Buford noted certain themes that emerged, unplanned, from this year’s programming: activism (such as that of Russo, Kato, and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, who is profiled in Love Free or Die); dark, complex portrayals of anti-heroes and some rather unsympathetic queer characters; and a certain maturity that can be noted in gay film today.
The eight so-called "Showcase" films appear to offer some incipient blockbusters. In director Virginia Despentes ’ Bye Bye Blondie, two French powerhouses, Beatrice Dalle and Emmanuelle Beart, play middle-aged women who reconnect years after their 1980s fling as teenage punk-rockers. Facing Mirrors (director Negar Azarbayjani) is the first Iranian narrative film with a transgender protagonist. Gayby expands director Jonathan Lisecki’s beloved short into a rollicking feature. Kiss Me from Sweden explores the fluidity of sexuality and attraction. Bishop Robinson will be in the house for Love Free or Die. An Egyptian family negotiates the mean streets of London in My Brother the Devil. North Sea Texas is another entree from the burgeoning world of Belgian film. And Stud Life is one more fresh new feature set in urban London, centering on a black lesbian stud, from terrifically named director Campbell X.
The Frameline directors walked us through the catalog and pointed out worthy films that deserve not to get lost in the shuffle. Among them are local director Travis Mathews’ I Want Your Love, Chicana teens feature Mosquita y Mari, the ensemble comedy My Best Day, and Ash Christian’s NYC-set Petunia, with a cast including Ugly Betty ’s Michael Urie. In the World Cinema programs, look for the dark South African/French feature Beauty; the Israeli Joe+Belle, described to us as a Thelma & Louise black comedy with rom-com tropes; Almodovar regular Carmen Maura as the matriarch of a French Jewish family in Let My People Go!; coming out in a repressive society (Chile) in A Map to Talk; Cheryl Dunne’s new work, the raunchy queer sex film Mommy Is Coming; Norwegian lesbian hikers on The Mountain; sex-worker beats in the dark Our Paradise; director Andre Techine’s new film set in Venice, Unforgivable; and the first major Thai lesbian rom-com, Yes or No?
Documentaries, anyone? There’s Audre Lorde - The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992; three sports-related doc programs: Ballroom Rules, Beautiful Games and Boy Cheerleaders; transgender profiles including SF’s Lynnee Breedlove in Girl or Boy, My Sex is Not My Gender; a bisexual deaf-mute Cuban man "blowing up assumptions on machismo" (per Price) in Habana Muda; five older trans women in I Am a Woman Now; a gay Palestinian man living illegally in Tel Aviv as The Invisible Man; seminal glam rocker Jobriath A.D.; YouTube celeb Chris Crocker as Me @ The Zoo; queer young people including Lance Bass in the hostile environment of Mississippi: I Am; Revealing Mr. Maugham (that’s Somerset ); and Bay Area filmmaker Julie Wyman ’s portrait of three-time Olympian power-lifter Cheryl Haworth, the all-capped STRONG!
Shorts programs cover the waterfront, including the queer Latina program Con tu Nombre and the black queer compilation In the Life. We’re really only scratching the surface here. Seek out the Frameline 36 catalog in print or online, see what it is that appeals to you, and we’ll grok you on the rebound at festival screenings at the Castro, Roxie and Victoria Theatres in SF, and the Rialto Cinema Elmwood in Berkeley. More info at your fingertips at www.frameline.org.
OMG, some local drinkeries are getting into the Pride spirit by creating a few drinks named after local drag "celebrities." Ask for the Vicki Marlane (X-Rated Fusion Liqueur - hereafter XFL - Skyy Infusions Citrus, cranberry juice), the Pollo del Mar (Skyy Infusions Pineapple, cranberry juice, orange juice), the Anna Conda (Skyy Infusions Cherry, XFL), the Cookie Dough (Skyy Infusions Coconut, top with soda water, garnish with a lime), and of course the Donna Sachet (Skyy Infusions Pineapple, XFL, three hefty pineapple chunks). And in that all-inclusive spirit, for those of us who dress up like boys, Alioto’s on the Wharf will be offering the Absolut Mess (Absolut Citron, Absolut Mandrin, orange, cranberry & pineapple juices and a splash of 7-Up), and Cityhouse at the Parc 55 Hotel will serve up the Little Hot Mess (XFL, orange juice and soda). So there’s no excuse ever to order another Shirley Temple.
Beat goes on
It’s 1979, and Out There, 18, is the only white boy working on the assembly line at the alfalfa sprout-packing factory, sweltering in the summer heat in a warehouse on the wrong side of the tracks in downtown Baltimore. The transistor radio is tuned, as it is all day every day, to the soul music station: our musical education. Disco diva Anita Ward belts out "Ring My Bell," and our life begins. RIP Donna Summer! RIP Robin Gibb! RIP Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau!