Frameline's film fest's fab 46th

  • by Brian Bromberger
  • Tuesday June 7, 2022
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H.P. Mendoza's 'Attack, Decay Release'
H.P. Mendoza's 'Attack, Decay Release'

Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, returns to its fullest in-person programming since its pre-pandemic 2019 festival. For its 46th incarnation from June 16-30, Frameline will present 132 films including 46 feature narrative titles, 30 documentaries, three episodic series and 61 shorts. Last year, the only theater showings were during Pride weekend at the Castro Theater.

While continuing there and the Roxie Theater, Frameline will now also be partnering with SFMOMA, AMC Kabuki, and Oakland's New Parkway Theater for the first time.

Also, the festival is premiering an at-home viewing opportunity, Frameline Streaming Encore (separate price), where more than half of the films will be available to stream nationwide from June 24-30.

However, during the May 24 launch party at the Mission's El Rio bar, Frameline executive director James Wooley (his first predominantly non-virtual festival since helming it in 2020) in his opening remarks, issued a warning, "Cinema is in a bit of a struggle in the Bay Area with the Landmark Theater in Berkeley closing and articles mentioning that the movie 'Downton Abbey: A New Era' didn't do well at the box office," meaning audiences are not returning in full force to theaters and film festivals in general.


"This time, showing up is more important than ever,' said Wooley. "The attendance we have this year will shape how well we come back next year. What I'd love you to do is to spread the word of letting people know we're back, as this year we really need to urge people to attend."

Frameline46's tagline is The Coast Is Queer. We asked Allegra Madsen, director of programming, why it was chosen.

"The tagline was the brainchild of our in-house creative team and our amazing design team, Tomorrow Partners (queer, women-owned)," said Madsen. "This year we wanted our message to be that it is time to safely and responsibly come out and experience film with each other again. We also wanted a theme that rooted us in the Bay Area and said to our national streaming audience that there are places where we still strive to celebrate people because of their individual queer identities."

The festival kicks off with the first two episodes of a streaming update of Penny Marshall's 1992 classic on women's baseball during World War II, "A League of Their Own," which will debut later this summer on Amazon Prime Video, produced by and starring Abbi Jacobsen. The show takes a deeper look at race and sexuality featuring a whole new ensemble of characters following their lives on and off the field. An onstage Q & A with 'special guests' will follow.

Closing night will screen the prolific gay French director Francois Ozon's latest, "Peter von Kant," which reimagines Rainer Werner Fassbinder's lesbian classic "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" on its 50th anniversary (also to be shown at the festival). He reverses the gender spectrum of the all-female original, while recasting the actress who portrayed Petra's object of desire, Hanna Schygulla, as Peter's mother.

This year's Frameline Talk is "A Conversation with Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty," "Torch Song," Netflix's holiday rom-com "Single All the Way")" about his acting career and the evolution of queer representation in film and television.

In observance of Juneteenth, Frameline will screen the documentary "BLACK AS U R" exploring homo/transphobia within Black communities. The film is also the first recipient of Frameline's annual Out in the Silence award given to "an outstanding film project that highlights brave acts of LGBTQ+ visibility in places where such acts are not common."

There will be a free community showing of Disney/Pixar's upcoming "LightYear," a sci-fi action adventure and origin story of the legendary Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) and "Attack, Decay Release," a sci-fi hybrid film chronicling the migrations of humans to the moon after a deadly pandemic, the latest from local filmmaker H.P. Mendoza ("Colma: The Musical").

Local stories
The Bay Area figures in two movies. "All Kinds of Love," an intergenerational gay rom-com set in Northern California features all sorts of romances queer life (i.e. an aging straight throuple) makes possible, directed by local former SF Chronicle staff writer David Lewis. "Impresario," is a profile of gay San Francisco original and Frameline founder Marc Huestis about films ("Sex Is") he made and the shows he produced at the Castro Theater honoring Hollywood legends (Jane Russell, Kim Novak and many more).


Two features set in San Francisco are the documentary "The Unabridged Mrs. Vera's Daybook," concerning two long-term AIDS survivors (Mrs. Vera and Mr. Tina) and how their relationship has shaped a community of artists honoring those lost during that pandemic and the narrative "Vulvetta" about a '90s riot grrrl band poised for a comeback, desperate to bring back the alt music scene to the Bay Area, featuring some local icons and queer punks.

The Centerpiece Narrative is the Finnish "Girl Picture" reporting over the course of three weekends on a trio of young women who experience a series of firsts, including one woman's whirlwind fling with a female figure skater vying for championship status.

The Centerpiece Documentary is France's "Last Dance" starring the iconic drag queen Lady Vinsantos (the persona of Vincent DeFonet who launched her career at SF's Trannyshack) ready to break up with that persona by giving a final farewell show in Paris. After the film there will be a party at Oasis.

Several films will be showcased. A reboot of Russell T. Davies' groundbreaking British series, "Queer as Folk," explores a diverse group of friends in New Orleans in the aftermath of a tragedy. The first two episodes of Peacock's new original series will be screened, along with an onstage conversation of the ensemble cast.

Documentaries and world views
Another highlight is the documentary "Loving Highsmith" about the life/career of lesbian crime novelist Patricia Highsmith ("The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Carol," one of the first lesbian novels with a happy ending), with spoken diary excerpts and interviews with surviving girlfriends.

The documentary "Framing Agnes" details the discovery at UCLA of a trove of transcripts of interviews with transgender people in the 1950s and '60s, read by a star-studded team of trans filmmakers and actors, an astute hybrid of fiction and nonfiction.

"Moneyboys" from Taiwan spotlights a naïve young man from a poor village who moves to the big city to send money back home by becoming a hustler. They take his money, but cannot accept him.

'El Houb-The Love'  

"Three Tidy Tigers" from Brazil revolves around three cheerful young queers exploring the vibrant underside of Sao Paulo, complete with fleeting romances.

"El Houb-The Love" from The Netherlands, chronicles a successful Moroccan-Dutch businessman so panicked about coming out to his traditional Muslim parents, he barricades himself in their closet where he revisits childhood memories and negotiates a budding romance with a new Ghanaian boyfriend.

"Unidentified Objects" is a road movie about an unemployed curmudgeonly gay dwarf who lends his car for cash to his neighbor a buxom and bubbly sex worker. Their adventures will include alien encounters and unexpected romantic suitors.

"Nelly & Nadine" is a moving documentary about two women who meet in a concentration camp and begin a passionate love affair, later discovered by one of their granddaughters who uncovers the family secret through an archive of hidden letters and photos.

"Please Baby Please" heralds the return of Demi Moore to the screen, which investigates the sexual and philosophical awakening of Lower East Side bohemian newlyweds Suze and Arthur, following a run-in with a greaser gang of misfit queers, pulling influences from John Waters, Kenneth Anger, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

There will be the usual assortment of Shorts programs featuring "Because the Night" with the hookups and breakups that occur at night; "Cool for the Summer" about the unpredictable dog days and sweltering affairs that can occur during this hot season; and "Homegrown: Perfect Day," celebrating Bay Area stories from Bay area makers.

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