Pro-Palestine film festival sets schedule
by Matthew S. Bajko
Twenty-four feature films, plus several shorts, will screen at the Outside the Frame: Queers for Palestine Film Festival taking place in San Francisco in June. It is touted as a "radical alternative" to Frameline, San Francisco's international LGBT film festival.
As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story in January, a coalition of groups decided to produce its own counterprogramming during the opening weekend of Frameline to protest its acceptance of funding from the Israeli government. They contend the country's financial support of organizations like Frameline is a form of "pinkwashing," using Israel's pro-gay stances to detract attention away from its policies toward the Palestinian territories.
As it turns out, the local Israeli consulate is not sponsoring Frameline39 this year because no feature length Israeli film was selected as part of the 2015 lineup. Several short Israeli films are part of this year's program.
"It is ironic on one level. On another level, it speaks to the growing strength of this movement," said Kate Jessica Raphael, a longtime organizer with the group QUIT, which stands for Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, and one of the producers for Outside the Frame. "Of course we are glad to see there is not going to be Israeli sponsorship this year. We hope that will remain the case."
Asked if Frameline had changed its policy regarding partnerships with the Israeli Consulate or associated organizations, Executive Director Frances Wallace referred the B.A.R. to a statement the festival released last week in announcing this year's slate of films.
"As in keeping with our current policy we only accept consulate support to cover costs associated with screening international feature films. Frameline is still in the process of reviewing its current overall funding policies around consulate support from any country," read Frameline's statement.
In response to a request for comment about its ongoing relationship with Frameline, the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest, which is based in San Francisco, issued a statement to the B.A.R. pointing to Frameline's policy that only full-length feature films require consulate sponsorship for the festival.
"We wholeheartedly support the full inclusion of top quality LGBTQ films from anywhere in the world, and are strongly convinced Frameline has been dedicated to this essential goal year after year," stated Consul General Dr. Andy David. "We look forward to future opportunities to continue our partnership with Frameline in order to highlight the innovative LGBTQ films coming from Israel."
Despite the lack of an Israeli feature film in this year's Frameline, Raphael told the B.A.R. that activists were still considering some form of protest over the course of the festival. They continue to demand that Frameline sign on to a worldwide academic and cultural boycott of Israel, or at the very least, stop taking money directly from the local consulate or from groups that are affiliated with it.
"This issue isn't going away," said Raphael. "It is our feeling Frameline hopes they can satisfy everybody by being neutral and they can not."
Three days of screenings
As for Outside the Frame, it kicks off three days of screenings the evening of Friday, June 19 with a lineup that includes Criminal Queers, the 2012 "political farce" from Chris E. Vargas and Eric A. Stanley featuring Angela Davis "that imagines a prison break with a queer twist."
Saturday's program includes Dean Spade's new documentary, Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back, which looks at the protests of the 2012 Rainbow Generations Tour organized by LGBT Israeli groups, including A Wider Bridge.
Also that day StormMiguel Florez and Annalise Ophelian will be showing and discussing an excerpt from the forthcoming documentary, Major , a biopic about Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a formerly incarcerated black transgender elder and activist.
It is part of a block of films about transgender issues, including Reina de Los Angeles, the 2014 film from Byron Jose about transgender immigrant women and drag queen performers at Latino gay bars in Los Angeles.
The day will be capped by the premiere of The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen. Directed by Jennifer Abod, it is a biographical look at the life of the noted dancer, professor and black lesbian feminist activist.
Sunday's program begins with Patty Berne's Sins Invalid , "a celebration and exploration of sexuality and disability," and ends with Sin Visa from Bassam Kassab, executive director of San Jose-based Zarco Films. The movie focuses on a Mexican undocumented immigrant with homophobic views who is befriended by a gay couple in the U.S.
"We have some great films and some great people speaking," said Raphael. "We hope people will be interested in coming, but we know there are a lot of things going on that weekend."
The 41 film submissions they received surprised the organizers, Raphael said.
"We thought we would get 10 maybe. None of us wanted to be in the business of curating, jurying, and rejecting anybody," she said. "We were so moved and honored people wanted to be in the festival, and it was really hard to say no to people."
Outside the Frame is meant to be a one-time event, though Raphael said the organizing committee is not opposed to entertaining offers from a group or person interested in taking it over as long as they uphold its mission statement.
"I can't say we would because I don't know that. But it would be cool if somebody who had more skills in putting on a film festival decided they wanted to do that," she said.
Outside the Frame will take place at the 360-seat Brava Theater, 2781 24th Street in San Francisco, Friday, June 19 through Sunday, June 21.
Tickets are free and will be distributed each day on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors to the theater will open 30 minutes before each day's screenings.
For more information, including screening times, visit http://outsidetheframefest.org/.