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Frameline 42 beckons

by Roberto Friedman

Scene from director Jamal Sims' "When the Beat Drops." Photo: Frameline
Scene from director Jamal Sims' "When the Beat Drops." Photo: Frameline  

Last week, the film-world powers-that-be at Frameline gave a kick-off press conference for Frameline 42, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival coming up this June 14-24. The presser doubled as a launch party and so was held at the SoMa nightclub the Oasis, which Executive Director Frances Wallace aptly characterized as "both old-school and new-school."

Under the cabaret room's proscenium arch, Wallace and her colleagues, including new Director of Exhibition & Programming Paul Struthers, whetted our appetites with word of what's in store for festivalgoers this year. This includes the opening- and closing-night films, the documentaries "TransMilitary" and "54," previously described in these pages. But that's just the tip of the gay iceberg, which is the presentation of 153 films from 39 countries.

Other high-profile entries in the film fest include "When the Beat Drops" from director Jamal Sims, the Centerpiece Documentary about the dance subculture "bucking" created by African American gay men in the South; director Madeline Olnek's Centerpiece Feature "Wild Nights with Emily," with brilliant comedic actress Molly Shannon's fresh take on iconic poet Emily Dickinson; and director Rightor Doyle's television series "Bonding," in which a gay man's best straight girlfriend initiates him into the brave new world of BDSM.

The prestigious Frameline Award will be presented posthumously to the most deserving documentary filmmaker and social justice activist Debra Chasnoff (1957-2017), whose 1996 doc "It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in Schools" will screen along with an excerpt from her final film, "Prognosis." The other classic gay film screening as a festival Retrospective is director Arthur J. Bressan Jr.'s 1985 "Buddies," the first feature-length drama about AIDS. Frameline presents the world premiere of its new 2K digital restoration.

Scene from director Madeline Olneks Wild Nights with Emily. Photo: Frameline  

There's a lot on offer here, and this is just a small sampling. Among the bounty: "Mapplethorpe," a biopic about the seminal gay art photographer from director Ondi Timoner; director Desiree Akhavan's "The Miseducation of Cameron Post," in which teenage Cameron is sent away to a Christian "gay conversion" camp; and "Malila: The Farewell Flower" from Thai director Anucha Boonyawatana, which combines romance, meditation on loss, and Buddhist philosophy. A bumper crop of documentaries includes director David Weissman's "Conversations with Gay Elders: Kerby Lauderdale"; director Caroline Berler's "Dykes, Camera, Action!"; and "The Ice King," director James Erskine's portrait of 1970s British Olympic figure skater John Curry.

The presser also included the first showing of this year's festival trailer, which is pretty groovy, and the roll-out of the festival catalog, with its witty cover picture of HAL's (from "2001") rainbow-hued computer eye. It's all out and available, page through the goods, or go to

Garden variety

Also last week, we were honored to be invited to the San Francisco Botanical Garden's 2018 Garden Feast, a glamorous affair with silent auction, scrumptious lunch, and remarks from celebrated chef, author and food activist Alice Waters. The feast raised over $500,000 to support the Garden's hands-on programs for SF schoolchildren, nearly 13,000 a year. In her talk, Waters called public education the "last democratic institution" standing in today's America, and spoke about bringing kitchen gardens to public schools. Her early experience as a teacher in Montessori schools taught her the importance of "nourishing the whole child."

Our movie entertainment last week was the artist bio "Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat" from director Sara Driver. It brought us back to the NYC of the late 1970s and 80s, when to be a young and talented artist was to take a walk on the wild side. Basquiat's genius came through in everything he did, with only the use of a Sharpie, or a crayon, or an oil-stick. No apps required!

Odds & ends

Castro Organ Devotees Association want you to know about "An Organ-ic Event" hosted by the Castro Theatre's resident organist David Hegarty, coming up on Sun., June 10, 5-6:30 p.m. "See the premiere of a video about the progress-to-date building a new organ, and enjoy Hegarty's performance on the interim Allen organ. Stay for the 7 p.m. showing of '2001: A Space Odyssey.'" Here's a link to the event page:

Re last week's article about Glenda Jackson's acting career, a reader supplies a correction: "She was not nominated for an Oscar for 'Stevie.' 'Stevie' was released in the US in 1981. Glenda did win the NY Film Critics Award that year. Faye Dunaway was a close second for 'Mommie Dearest.' Sadly, neither was nominated for an Oscar. Katharine Hepburn won for 'On Golden Pond.'" We stand corrected.

Finally, in honor of this week's DVD review of "Medea" starring the immortal Maria Callas, this primo anecdote: "In the early 1950s, many articles appeared in the press about the supposed rivalry between Callas and Renata Tebaldi. But they actually thought well of each other and realized they were very different singers. The rivalry was actually between their respective fans, especially those attending performances at La Scala. Callas was singing 'Medea,' and the Tebaldinis had packed the upper balconies. As she was about to confront the tenor singing Jason in their biggest scene, the Tebaldinis began to boo. Without missing a beat, Callas, instead of addressing Jason, looked up at them, raised her arm, made a fist, and said, 'Oh, cruel and unfaithful monster, what have I done to merit your betrayal?' The audience was stunned for a moment, then erupted into wild cheers." We cheer along.


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