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Celebrating the Best In International Queer Cinema

This summer’s Frameline Festival, Frameline32: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, will once again turn the focus of worldwide LGBT cinema to the heart of San Francisco. As it does every year, the program promises to provide entertainment and stimulation, to provoke intellect and emotion. In their quest to celebrate the best in international queer cinema, festival organizers have prepared a program that is robust in scope but directed in focus. The festival, which runs for 11 days beginning June 19, will feature 237 films, all of which have been selected for their innovation, cultural value and social relevance.

The Festival opens with Affinity, which will have its West Coast premiere at the Castro theatre followed by an after party at Ten15 Folsom nightclub. Directed by Tim Fywell and inspired by the novel of Sarah Waters, Affinity is a period piece set in 19th century London, where both the figurative and literal restrictions of the time threaten to confine the illicit emotions of a young heiress. Deceit, love and lust all play hand in this stylish and beautifully rendered Victorian romance.

Part of Frameline’s objective is to highlight the up and coming in queer cinema, whether local, domestic or international. Thus, this year’s program will present XXY as its centerpiece. The film is directed by first time film maker Lucia Puenzo from Argentina and will be shown at the Castro Theatre on June 24. It focuses on the universal difficulties of adolescence, although as its title suggests, the strains portrayed in particular will be those of 15 year old Alex, who was born an extra chromosome and “a few extra parts.” Audiences will have plenty to discuss, not least the way in which this film navigates the seldom explored waters of puberty and gender decision.

One of this year’s highlights is the Frameline Award, which will be presented to Festival and Frameline leader Michael Lumpkin on opening night. Lumpkin, who started off as a festival volunteer in 1979, has since gone on to create the program as we see it today, extending a three day party to an 11 day festival. For 25 years, Lumpkin worked to create the rich environment for LGBT films that we see today. As part of his involvement with this year’s program, which will be his last, Lumpkin has hand selected 7 films that highlight his 25 year relationship with the Festival: Mala Noche, Law of Desire, Bound, Lillies, Big Eden, Karmen Gei, and Yes Nurse! No Nurse!. They will screen throughout the Festival at the Castro Theatre.

This year’s grand finale comes in the form of Breakfast with Scot, the closing night film at the Castro that will be followed immediately by a party at Ten15 Folsom nightclub. The film, directed by Laurie Lynd, tells the story of a straight acting gay couple who, through a twist of fate, find themselves as the unexpected parents of a flamboyant 11 year old son. The hilarity and situations that arise owe as much to comic irony as they do to the way that the film will force audiences to laugh at their own absurd misconceptions. As gay Americans begin coming to terms with their own unique family, Breakfast With Scot aims to color a new facet of family comedy.

Aside from this year’s selection of feature films, however, there are also a bulk of short films and documentaries on the program. Short films will be presented in programs that have been thematically grouped. There are a number of noteworthy documentaries on the program as well, namely the award winning Call Me Troy¸ which is about gay rights activist Rev. Troy Perry, and Chris & Don: A Love Story, which chronicles the 34 year love affair of famed writer Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy. And because Frameline is an international film fest, viewers can expect to find Asian, African, Latino, Jewish and Middle Eastern films. In addition, this year also boasts a kid’s matinee, which responds to the lack of quality, all inclusive programming for children of LGBT families.

In its 32nd incarnation, the depth and wealth of films selected to be in the Festival is a good indication of the LGBT community at large. Frameline has often been viewed as the unofficial start to San Francisco Pride, whose theme this year is “United By Pride, Bound For Equality.” And as one of the biggest events of not only the queer calendar, but of the city calendar as a whole, there is no better welcome mat than Frameline32.

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