San Francisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Film Festival
Frameline 30—celebrates a milestone this week with the 30th anniversary of the San Francisco International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender Film Festival—showcasing United States
feature films, world cinema features, documentaries, shorts and family film. The
festival highlights the current state of queer cinema with an extraordinary collection of films playing June 15-25th
at the Castro, Roxie, Victoria, Empire and Parkway theatres.
had a chance to preview a number of selections and can say that this year’s offerings represent a new level of attainment
in gay cinema--the acting is powerful all around, the guys are cuter, the girls are cuter, the direction and production values
are superior and the themes are particularly substantive, current and relevant. Several
important works of art are showcased. At the very least, we recommend you check
it out. (Dates and times of screenings can be found at www.frameline.org) Here is our take on some of the offerings:
by Todd Stephens, 92 minutes, 2006 USA)
Not for the
squeamish! Four horny gay teens make a pact to lose their anal virginity before
the end of the summer. A send up of raunchy, rowdy teen sex comedies, Another Gay Movie pushes the envelope in its celebration of gay sexuality.
No teen angst here—being gay is as natural as home-made quiche. Despite
some unevenness, director Todd Stephens (Co-Producer/Writer of Edge of Seventeen) presents some very sexy
scenes amid some decidedly extreme moments which may be too much for some viewers to handle. If Porky’s, American Pie, There’s Something About
Mary, Eurotrip, and Scary Movie
are your kind of flicks, then you’ll likely find Another Gay Movie to be a hilarious extension of the genre.
by Q. Alan Brocka, 87 minutes, 2006 USA)
A hunky young
gay hustler named X is up for almost 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 other roommate, teenaged Joey has a smoldering crush on X. But X’s
world is rocked when he meets a new client, Gregory, a sophisticated older man seeming more interested in X’s mind and
dilemmas than in his usual stud services. X is given the opportunity to see different
sides of himself which results in some scary vulnerability and insightful resolution.
Directed with style, written with a deft mix of irony, pathos and sexiness, and featuring a handsome cast of studs,
along with exceptional acting by young and old alike, Boy Culture displays both
a naturalness and a rare chemistry between the actors that make it absorbing viewing while providing insightful commentary
on contemporary gay culture.
Another selection of shorts showing that school can be a tough
place for a budding homosexual. Homo High School depicts Daniel’s confusion when his parents transfer him
to a new school where he’s taught to mince, lisp and ‘throw like a girl’.
While the film could benefit from a larger budget and more deft handling, it’s point is well made and welcome.
Boys Grammar presents bullying taken to unimaginably violent extremes and may disturb
some viewers even while its point remains murky. This compilation is particularly
notable for Sissy Frenchfry, a film about West Beach High, where the school’s
most popular kid (who is named Sissy Frenchfry) must fight conservative newcomer Bodey McDodey in the election for student
body president (which derives its inspiration from the current so-called cultural wars).
by Julian Hernandez, 140 minutes, 35mm, in Spanish with English subtitles, 2005 Mexico)
film of great emotional depth. The second feature of director Julian Hernandez
follows university students Jonas and Gerardo who share a ravishing love and sexual abandon for one another until Jonas’
attention turns to another young man. Powerful, impassioned, compelling performances
by the striking leads combine with bravura direction, gorgeous use of color, artistic restraint and daring yet hypnotic pacing
to create a uniquely satisfying achievement.
by Kirk Marcolina and Larry Grimaldi, 78 minutes, video, 2005 USA)
achievement--a documentary about the first overnight Bible Camp retreat for gay
youth. The camp is the longtime dream of Pastor Jay and other counselors who’s compassionate commitment to helping Christian
youth is supportive and non-judgemental. The film follows ten young gay Christian
or questioning Christians which include Christine, a hyperactive Elvis obsessed loner, Jesse, the shy camp hunk, Thomas, a
pious kid who chants devotional prayers and Tim, an often depressed recovering drug addict.
Echoing reality-tv, the documentary is a fascinating look at the religious impulse and religious alienation. This film is the first film to bridge the gap between homosexuality and Christianity and is long overdue.
Colma: The Musical
(directed by Richard Wong, 119 minutes, video, 2006 USA)
of Colma, California is famed as the place where space-starved San Franciscans have buried their loved ones for generations. Over a million people are buried in the town of Colma, which possesses the distinction of being the only incorporated city in America where the dead outnumber the living. Colma
is the setting for Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza’s Colma: The Musical, a
hip, unapologetic and refreshing ode to the genre, boasting catchy melodies, smart lyrics and appealing performances. Made with obvious love and integrity, this exuberant, impressively shot and directed
piece has all the earmarks of an instant cult classic, though it could very easily hold its own with mainstream audiences.
The Conrad Boys
by Justin Lo, 94 minutes, 35mm, 2005 USA)
director Justin Lo stars as Charlie Conrad, a strait-laced Chinese American Jewish boy raising his 9-year-old brother, Ben,
after the death of their single Mom. Charlie becomes attracted to good-looking
Jordan, a mysterious drifter around the same time his long-absent, now-repentant
father shows up wanting to reconnect to Ben and Charlie. The sound is well recorded
and a story is put together, but the actors recite their lines at each other and Lo’s greenness as a writer and director keeps the film
from being engaging or reaching the quality level of other films in the festival.
of shorts whose theme details how having a crush on a guy can take over your life and even get you into trouble. A young man searches for another on the Mexican Riviera leaving it all up to chance in Emilio’s Eyes. A teenager embarks on a road trip with his best
friend when a turn of events leads to an unexpected adventure in Night Swimming. A volatile ex-con will stop at nothing to keep a date with the guy he met online in
First Date—a decidedly uneven well-acted quirky offering. And you are unlikely to forget Bugcrush, the story of Ben, a
small-town high school loner whose fascination with Grant, a dangerously seductive new kid leads him into the sinister. The level of acting, creativity and filmic sense of these entries put these films
a cut above others, though the endings are decidedly off the beaten path.
by Robert I. Douglas, 35mm, Icelandic with English subtitles, 85 minutes, 2005 Iceland/Finland/United Kingdom)
star Ottar Thor comes out as gay, to the surprise of management, teammates, father, mother, ex-wife, teenaged son, and brother. Kicked off the team as a result, he joins a much lower-ranked team of gay players
whose league status suddenly elevates. Problem is, other teams won’t play
the ‘queer’ team. What could have been a clichéd film contains many
moments of humor and drama with realistic characters and a fresh ending. Handsome
Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson stars as the soccer player. Nicely photographed with
a fine supporting cast.
Fun in Boys Shorts
includes Spaceboy, a cute little thing about a sexy astronaut who lands in the
woods near Jason’s house. In Latch
Key, two brothers plot separately for some after-school fun before Mom gets home.
And Available Men employs clever dialogue as it shows what might happen
when a straight Hollywood agent and a single gay man mistake each other for the men they
were supposed to meet. The other films are examples of filmmakers’ use
of their personal artistic expression.
God & Gays: Bridging the Gap
(directed by Luane Beck, 95 minutes, video, 2006 USA)
insightful interviews with practicing gay Christians. Featured are former Exodus
(“gay cure”) counselors, Jerry Falwell’s ex-ghostwriter, gay ministers, mothers, sons, daughters—all
of whom have worthwhile things to share about religion, Christianity, the experience of being gay, and really practicing one’s
religion. This hot-button topic’s time has come as religion is now faced
with resolving the issues raised if it is to remain relevant in the lives of its followers.
Particularly memorable segments include a brave mother whose loss of her gay daughter opened her heart, an Inner Light
minister whose inner light shines in her benignly provocative intelligent comments, and an activist gay minister who was Jerry
Falwell’s ghostwriter, among many others. While there is an occasional
heavy-handedness, this is one of the most intelligent compilations of views on God and gays one is likely to encounter, and
the documentary will itself be a force for good in helping religious practice to return to the true spirit and spirituality
of its teachings.
by Simon Chung, 80 minutes, video, in Cantonese, Mandarin and English subtitles, 2005 Canada/Hong Kong)
Eric reluctantly emigrates with his parents from Hong Kong to suburban Toronto. Cultural adjustment, peer pressure, family
expectations, and drama within the family, added to his emerging homosexuality, complicate his life as he explores his attraction
to his handsome cousin, a schoolmate, a middle-aged lawyer and a kitchen worker. Well-acted,
absorbing storytelling graces this touching coming-of-age drama.
Like a Brother
by Bernard Alapetite & Cyril Legann, 56 minutes, video, in French with English subtitles, 2005 France)
by Nicolas Breviere, 26 minutes, 35mm, in French with English subtitles, 2005 France)
of French films follow the passion of young gays’ sexual explorations as they search for love. Like a Brother introduces 19-year-old Zack who has just moved
to gay Paris from a small French town.
As he strives to live his life and fulfill his desires, lingering feelings for his best friend Romain make it difficult
to let go of the past. This poetic film achieves a rare poignancy in its depiction
of two friends who share a special closeness but are at different ‘places’ in their lives. The narrative jumps back and forth in time, not always clearly or deftly, but always interestingly. An affirming story about the growth of a gay person, Boomerang tells the story of a young man whose sexual obsession drives him to the brink of madness. Reminiscent of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room,
the film contains several memorable moments and a fine musical score.
A Love to Hide
by Christian Faure, 103 minutes, 35mm, in French with English subtitles)
nuanced drama capturing the horror of the Nazis, A Love to Hide, set in Paris in 1942 boasts superb production values and absorbing drama. Two young gay lovers in
occupied France, Jean and Phillipe, risk their lives in hiding a Jewish childhood friend, Sarah, whose family has been killed
by the Gestapo. As they struggle to survive, Jean’s black-sheep brother,
a Nazi collaborator, arrives, setting tragic events in motion. Jean is exposed as gay and falsely accused of having an affair
with a Nazi officer; whirlwind events quickly ensue. A Love to Hide contains meticulous attention to period detail, elegant cinematography, excellent acting and historical
relevance, all of which makes for a superior film.
The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
by George Bamber, 88 minutes, 35mm, 2005 USA)
a comic strip by Eric Orner, this live-action film tells the story of 26 year old Ethan, attractive, charming and trying not
to screw up his new relationship. Ethan’s former boyfriend wants to sell
the house, so Ethan must find his own place or move in with his new boyfriend while a thoroughly depressed realtor just out
of prison attempts to sell the house. Part screwball comedy, part over-the-top
farce, the film addresses questions and concerns of the gay community as the plots twists and turns move through the pitfalls
of modern gay life.
played appealingly by Daniel Letterle (last seen as the straight hunk in the musical theatre camp outing, Camp). The efforts of the very capable cast are marred by some unevenness and heavy handed treatment, but the
cast of characters makes a strong impression and all the cute frolicking will most likely find welcome response in its intended
by Jochen Hick & Christian Jentzsch, 75 minutes, video, in various languages with English subtitles, Germany 2006)
through same-sex marriage achieved in some parts of Europe, why should gay men and
lesbian women continue to fight for basic human rights? There is no more effective
or compelling answer than this powerful documentary detailing inspiring first-person stories of real-life people. Focusing on international events, the film follows several stories including a gay couple in Amsterdam
who live in constant fear from relentless threats by a local gang, gay activists addressing the United Nations in Geneva,
the volatile struggle of the gay pride movement in Poland, an interview with the gay mayor of Berlin, gay Muslims, Egypt’s
oppression of gays, and much more. A real eye-opener—shocking and disturbing,
powerful and important. A must-see film.
by Mike Roth and John Henning, 90 minutes, video, 2006 USA)
Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of a same-sex couple’s right to marry in 2003, a battle ensued to amend the
state constitution to override the court’s decision. Last-minute lobbying,
phone calls, mass demonstrations and closely fought election campaigns unfolded across the state for more than two years.
Mike Roth followed the events and interviewed lawyers, lobbyists and organizers as well as gay couples who married. The strength of this documentary is that it puts a human face on the issue and follows the lives of real
peoples’ efforts to secure basic human rights in a battle still being waged. A
moving and cathartic film, even when you already know all the details.
by Francois Ozon, 87 minutes, 35mm in French with English subtitles, 1998 France)
by noted filmmaker, Francois Ozon, Sitcom is a French farce where shocking behavior suddenly runs amok in an upper-middle-class
family. This film is so wacky it’s hard to describe. What if Ozzie and Harriet and June and Ward Cleaver decided to partner swap? What if Richie Cunningham got sweet for Ralph Malph, or what if Jan Brady was a lesbian? Get the idea? You’ll find it hard to find a sexual variation
or proclivity that is not represented in this outrageous comedy.
Time to Leave
(directed by Francois Ozon, 85 minutes, in French with English subtitles, 2005 France)
cavalier young man discovers he will shortly die and so begins his perhaps first experience with introspection. Francois Ozon’s best film to date—a contemporary Dark
Victory as if directed by Ingmar Bergman. Astonishingly mature, ravishingly
shot and acted, this is the must-see film of Frameline 30.
(directed by Joao Pedro Rodrigues, 101 minutes, 35mm, in Portuguese with English subtitles, 2005 Portugal)
A film probing
the depths of romantic obsession. When Pedro, the love of young bartender Rui,
is killed in a car crash, Rui sinks into suicidal despair. Meanwhile, Odete,
a psychologically disturbed temptress fixates on the memory of Pedro even to the point of writhing on his gravestone. She taunts Rui and eventually loses all sense of self leading to a bizarre transgressive
climax. If you saw the director’s previous film, O Fantasma, you know what to expect in this film. The fine acting,
splendid photography and set pieces are elegant, but the pacing will probably prove off-putting. But male nudity that includes hunky Rui and Odete’s handsome ex-lover, is reason to enjoy the film
on a carnal level, while Odete’s transgender transformation is a uniquely bizarre experience.
by Todd Verow, 114 minutes, video, 2006 USA)
Maine, Joe, a cute high school senior dreams of attending art school,
becomes a live-in model for an eccentric gay man looking for non-sexual companionship, and develops his relationship with
sexy football-player friend, Andrew. Shot on video, the camera work is rather
impressive, though the sound recoding contains a substantial amount of background noise that diminishes the production value. The story is somewhat meandering, and continuity is occasionally a problem, but several
erotic sequences along with generally good acting make this a decidedly interesting low-budget production.
Whole New Thing
by Amnon Buchbinder, 92 minutes, 35mm, 2005 Canada)
adolescent Emerson, raised by hippie parents in Nova Scotia, must suddenly attend the local public school to boost his math
skills, the ‘whole new’ experience proves to be a rite of passage, especially since he’s used to smoking
pot and relaxing nude in the sauna with his parents and their friends.
he develops a crush on his teacher, Mr. Grant, who is gay, but principled and professional enough to keep a healthy distance
from his precocious student. Emerson pushes things too far and his parents are
too caught up in their problems and their own ‘new things’ to notice. Fine
performances by the cast and adroit, sensitive direction make Whole New Thing
a touching and quirky coming-of-age tale.