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Frameline postpones June LGBTQ film festival

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Audiences will have to wait until the fall for this year's Frameline LGBTQ film festival. Photo Barak Shrama Photography
Audiences will have to wait until the fall for this year's Frameline LGBTQ film festival. Photo Barak Shrama Photography  

Frameline, the San Francisco LGBTQ film festival usually held in June, has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Executive Director James Woolley announced Tuesday.

The film festival is now slated for the fall, though no dates were announced. It had been scheduled for June 18-28.

The longest running and most widely recognized queer film festival in the world, Frameline will also be expanding its film offerings throughout the year and is working on innovative ways to celebrate Pride Month in June, according to a news release.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed acknowledged the difficult decision organizers had to make. On Monday, Breed announced that the city's shelter-in-place order would be extended to May 1. While it is not yet known how physical distancing will be eased once the order is lifted, local officials have said it's unlikely that all shuttered businesses would reopen at once. A more gradual restart is likely, including larger events like the film festival.

"During this challenging and uncertain time, organizations have to make tough decisions about whether or not to proceed with planned events," Breed said in a March 31 news release from Frameline. "While it isn't an easy decision to postpone, I'm glad that Frameline is committed to finding ways to continue supporting filmmakers and artists who offer points of view and share their stories of overcoming obstacles."

The news comes two weeks after the Queer Cultural Center announced it was postponing its annual National Queer Arts Festival that is also held during Pride Month. It too is looking at holding some of programming in the fall.

"We want to center public health and community safety. Some shows may be produced in the fall, and we will share when those come to fruition," Mia Nakano, the center's communications director, wrote in a March 18 email announcing the postponement of the festival.

Woolley stated that since its inception in 1977, Frameline has welcomed audiences "to celebrate the power of queer cinema alongside Pride celebrations in the month of June."

"While Pride Month remains the spiritual home of the festival, we look forward to bringing the community together at a later date, to connect with the most vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ storytellers in film," Woolley stated. "The safety of our beloved audience, staff, filmmakers, and community partners must come first."

The organization has launched the Frameline2020 Fund, with a goal of raising $250,000. Due to the unprecedented emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic (the illness caused by the novel coronavirus), Woolley noted that Frameline is faced with a rapid reduction in cash flow. From the beginning of March, usually one of the highest earning months of the year, income has been interrupted and delayed, the release noted.

Now that the film festival has been moved to the fall, Frameline will not likely see a return of stable income for months, the release stated. Considerable measures to cut expenses have been taken, but individual donor support is needed in order for Frameline to provide valuable programs and services as well as continue paying staff.

With announcements from the LGBT film and arts festivals, eyes now turn to the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee as to whether this year's 50th annual Pride parade and celebration will also be postponed. As the Bay Area Reporter has previously reported, for now the June 27-28 parade is on, and SF Pride officials were looking to make a decision my mid-April.

That timeline may accelerate, however, as the scope of the outbreak becomes clearer. On Monday, SF Pride officials told the B.A.R. there was nothing new to report.

For more information, visit www.frameline.org

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