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Review - Frameline33: San Francisco LGBT Film Festival
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Frameline 33

San Francisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Film Festival

 

Frameline is back again with its 33rd annual San Francisco International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Film Festivalshowcasing United States feature films, world cinema features, documentaries, shorts and family films.

 

The theme of Frameline 33 is The Power of Film and it couldn’t be a more apt description of the impressive film array which distinguishes this festival and also encompasses the history of the gay rights movement in providing significant works of film art in current queer cinema. The festival highlights the current state of queer cinema with an extraordinary collection of films playing June 18-28th at the Castro, Roxie, Victoria, Empire and Parkway theatres. The following is our take on selected titles, but the full festival covers so much more.

(Dates and times of screenings can be found at www.frameline.org/festival)  Here is our take on some of the offerings:

 

 

Boy

(Directed by Aureus Solito, 83 minutes, 2009, Philippines, in Filipino and Tagalog with English subtitles)

 

The Boy (he's never actually named) is a middle-class teen taken with Aries, a sexy dancer at the local gay strip club. Paying for Aries' time, the boy brings him home on New Year's Eve. Through the evening and night, the two get very well acquainted, first spending time with the boy's mother at the dinner table, then enjoying each other for many long hours in his bed, amongst his voluminous collections of aquariums. That's about it for the basic plot. The boy is also a budding poet of sorts, though his prose focuses entirely on one particular body part.

 

The film is shot in arty, tantalizing takes, and Solito masterfully teases us along, providing many voyeuristic views through the murky fish tanks. There is lots of young skin on display here, as the boys' interactions become more intimate, and considering the slimness of the story, that's probably all you need. But we also get a real sense of the characters and their families as they strive to make the best of their lives.

 

Teenage infatuation has rarely been so satisfyingly represented - or 

consummated - onscreen... nor is it often this hot.

 

 

The Country Teacher (Venkovsky ucitel)

(Directed by Bohdan Slama, 113 minutes, 2008, Czech Republic/Germany/France, in Czech with English subtitles)

 

A brilliant science teacher flees to the country to teach elementary students as he represses his gay sexuality in search of love.  His encounter with a divorced farm woman and her herd-hand son provides drama in a film filled with complications.  The viewer is required, by accident or design, to fill in some of the blanks in this unusual and rewarding, well-acted, anything that pays, but is careful with his own heart and not past his own dreams of love and lust for his roommate Andrew, a dreamboat with one foot out of the closet.  His realistic, subtle, beautifully photographed and provocative film.

 

 

Cure for Love

(Directed by Francine Pelletier and Christina Willing, 60 minutes, 2008, Canada)

 

Brian and Ana, both members of a Christian support group for those struggling with same-sex attraction, are tying the knot. Though not ex-gays, they believe the marriage - which seems more like a friendship - will subsist on their love of God and their fondness for each other.

 

All seems well for them, but something smells odd. Brian - who still acknowleges his sexual attraction to men - moves higher up in the ministry, becoming a popular speaker, all the while denouncing the urge to act upon same-sex desires. But neither does he desire his wife.

 

At exactly the point at which one may wonder where this is going, the story forks off and begins to reveal two very different directions. Two of their friends and fellow church members, Jonathan and Derren, question the soundness of the marriage, especially since the couple seems more interested in gaming and hanging out as the expression of their sacred contract. The two men, meanwhile, find harmony in accepting themselves as they are.

 

Ultimately, Cure for Love looks at honesty and self-awareness and the nature of relationships. To that end, one may wish its subjects had first vowed to take a hard reality check.

 

(Shows with Flight to Sinai ((Directed by Charlie Vaughn, 30 minutes, 2008, USA)

 

 

Give Me Your Hand (Donne-moie la main)

(Directed by Pascal-Alex Vincent, 80 minutes, France/Germany 2008, in French and Spanish with English subtitles)

 

Two brothers, handsome and close identical twins, set out on a road trip from France to Spain to attend their mother’s funeral.  Along the way there are trysts, rivalries, sexual encounters, rifts and jealousy.  Subtle and expressionistic, the film, which evokes Wild Reeds, both conceals and reveals underlying tensions and emotions.

 

 

Little Joe

(Directed by Nicole Haeusser, 87 minutes, 2009, USA)

 

The young Joe Dallesandro was discovered by Andy Warhol.  His extraordinary photogenic good looks, physique and sexuality made him into an internationally iconic underground superstar.  Little Joe features extensive interviews with Dallesandro (who is unpretentious and appreciative of what life has afforded him) and spans his 40-year career appearing in films.  Rare footage of his films (including much nudity) captures his appeal while the current-day Dallesandro refreshingly puts his own life into perspective in this impressive documentary.

 

 

Making the Boys

(Directed by Crayton Robey, 90 minutes, 2008, USA)

 

The Boys in the Band made history when it debuted off-Broadway in 1968 and was acclaimed as the first open (and controversial) depiction of the gay lifestyle on the stage.  A wildly successful worldwide hit, it was made into a mainstream film version with the original cast not long after by pre-French Connection and The Exorcist director William Friedkin.  Covering both the stage play and film version, and featuring interviews with Edward Albee, Tony Kushner, Michael Musto and Carson Kressley among others, this entertaining and fascinating documentary also weaves rare archival film footage and highlights the cultural perspective into which the play was introduced.

 

 

Pop Star on Ice

(Directed by David Barba and James Pellerito, 85 nminutes, 2009, USA)

 

Flamboyant and sometimes controversial Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir is the subject of this well-made documentary covering the full arc of his career thus far.  Beautiful skating sequences, lots of backstage drama, a comprehensive non-judgmental perspective, intimate spontaneous moments and the difficulties of training for competitive skating co-mingle with the question of the star’s sexuality and uncompromising passionate expression.

 

2009 Celluloid Dreams

 

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