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Frameline Finales!

by David Lamble

Scene from director Rightor Doyle's episodic series "Bonding." Photo: Frameline
Scene from director Rightor Doyle's episodic series "Bonding." Photo: Frameline  

True fans of Frameline 42, America's longest-running LGBTQ film festival, know that the best of 11 days of queer-themed cinema often screens in the event's final weekend (Thurs.-Sun., June 21-24).

"Bonding" Struggling to pay his rent, a shy, aspiring stand-up comedian teams up with his best friend, who moonlights as a dominatrix in this amusing, touching, and kinky new episodic series from director Rightor Doyle. (Castro, 6/21)

"Man Made" A significant achievement of Frameline 42 has been to showcase films portraying an increasingly visible American transgender community. One of the best of the bunch is a 91-minute docudrama, "Man Made," where five "self-made" men demonstrate how to cope with a tumultuous social landscape around gender roles and identity. "Man Made" showcases the paths taken by five brave individuals to become contestants at the Trans FitCon bodybuilding competition in Atlanta. The five are Dominic, Mason, Rese, Kennie and Tommy, the youngest a sassy 23-year-old, and the oldest a late bloomer in his mid-40s. Each describes the difficulties of living with their gender identity at birth. The five come from conservative hometowns across the Midwest and South.

We witness Dominic's pre-op nervousness and hear a lesbian spouse worrying that she may no longer be attracted to a mate who switches from she to he, in the process beginning to "sweat like a man." Director and transman activist T. Cooper deftly edits his subjects' life stories: one must face a young son who insists on calling him "mommy," another risks breaking off a longstanding same-gender relationship, and still another fears coming off onscreen like "a circus freak." (Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 6/21)

"Conversations with Gay Elders: Kerby Lauderdale" Veteran director David Weissman delivers a thrilling, deceptively simple 70-minute chat with a gay everyman. The life of Kerby Lauderdale covers a host of moving moments: discovering his sexual identity at summer camp, a college romance, a lengthy hetero marriage, and finally, a 14-year relationship with an HIV+ male partner. Never maudlin, this is a frank discussion between two real adults. (Castro, 6/21)

"The PrEP Project" A satiric short from co-directors Chris Tipton-King and Robyn Kopp offers a candid but funny spin on how this "magic bullet" HIV prevention pill could impact the lives and loves of real people. Part of the "Homegrown" shorts program. (Victoria, 6/21)

"Up Close & Personal" This collection of nine shorts from the US, Canada, Australia, Spain and Jamaica tracks the ups and downs of trans identity. Noteworthy is the next-to-last work: "Angela Wilson: A Butcher's Story," director Gaby Scott's profile of the owner of Avedano's San Francisco butcher shop. Most ambitious is "Picture This," Canadian director Jari Osborne's nuanced portrait of Andrew, who self-identifies as "a queer cripple." (Castro, 6/22)

"Reinventing Marvin" Bullied at school, handsome Marvin flees his boorish family for drama school in Paris, where he is nurtured by a variety of mentors, including grand dame Isabelle Huppert appearing as herself. Soon Marvin starts to reinvent himself in Anne Fontaine's powerful film about the making of an young artist. (Castro, 6/22)


Scene from directors Natalie Metzger and Michael Rohrbaughs Alone in the Game. Photo: Frameline  

"Alone in the Game" Have you wondered, as I have, why more big-name athletes don't come out and add social awareness to their skill sets? The team of Natalie Metzger and Michael Rohrbaugh delivers the stories of young sports stars-in-the-making who must deal with another Herculean challenge. With commentary from high profile experts from the Olympics and soccer worlds, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. (Castro, 6/23)

"Ideal Home" Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd star as a glamorous foodie couple whose lives are turned upside-down when a secret 10-year-old grandson shows up on their Santa Fe doorstep and threatens to alter their lives, in this rambunctious, endearing comedy. (Castro, 6/23)

"Studio 54" The title of this year's Castro closing-night drama may remind some of 1998's cringe-worthy cute-kids-dancing-their-asses-off discomania version "54," from director Mark Christopher. But relax, this one draws on previously hidden sources to show what went on behind the velvet rope. Director Matt Tyrnauer zooms in on Studio 54's celebrity owners Steve Rubell (dead from AIDS 1989) and Ian Schrager, who met at college and lived to showcase the exhilarating highs and deadly lows of the club scene. So strap on your dancing shoes, feather your hair, and prepare to get down with this electrifying documentary about the infamous dance parlor where Elton John, Cher, Grace Jones and other celebs were bumping up against common guys and gals lucky or influential enough to get in. (Castro, 6/24)


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