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Frameline33 Festival

Bringing Together a Community

Frameline returns with its 33rd San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. This year finds 210 films from 20 countries promoting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and is being screened over 11 days from June 18-28. However, Frameline33 offers much more than just a portal into the LGBT and exhibits nothing less than an exquisite display of masterful filmmaking. This year offers and incredible array of features and documentaries that beautifully illuminate the LGBT community through film. The longest running film festival to the LGBT community, this year’s theme is The Power of Film and features many films from the 1960s and 70s, as well as many Bay Area-centric films.

With so many films, and so little time, here’s a list of 8 worth checking out:

1. An Englishman in New York: This opening night film chronicles John Hurt as the first “openly gay” British man, Quentin Crisp, in the follow up to 1975’s astounding The Naked Civil Servant. Whereas The Naked Civil Servant followed Crisp living as an openly homosexual male before it was acceptable, An Englishman in New York finds Crisp still causing tension even as the gay community is exploding in 1970s and 80s New York City. Hurt plays Crisp as a man of extreme morals and stubbornness, but no less sympathetic and influential.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

2. Patrik, Age 1.5: One of two Centerpiece films, this beautifully shot Swedish story set in a small, peaceful village tackles the joys and frustrations of one couple, Göran and Sven, as they attempt to live a normal, suburban life. Unfortunately, their life is anything from typical and the neighborhood doesn’t quite welcome them with open arms amid their own internal struggles. Attempting to complete their family with an adopted baby the two are left with a troublemaking 15 year old following a document typo, and their relationship is finally tested. Patrik, Age 1.5 works so well because it illuminates that gay or straight, all families and relationships have their problems and we are all just searching for love and acceptance.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

3. Prodigal Sons: The other Centerpiece of the festival is the brutally honest debut documentary of Kimberly Reed. Reed, a former high school star quarterback named Paul McKerrow, is now a successful New York magazine editor and is traveling back to her small Montana town for the first time since her transition. What starts out as a revisiting of Reed’s former life and her attempt to reconcile it with her new one, soon becomes a story of the relationship with her adopted brother, Marc. The film takes a detour as Marc, who suffered a severe brain injury years prior, discovers he’s the grandson of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. It’s a refreshing take on the classic story of sibling rivalry and illustrates one woman’s reconciliation with her past and estranged brother.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

4. Drool: A Showcase film at the festival, Drool finds Anora (Laura Harring, Mulholland Drive) as the matriarch of a poor, southern family ruled by an abusive father, Cheb (Oded Fehr). Each member of the family is struggling with their identity outside the tense household as Tabby (Ashley Duggan Smith) explores sex and Little Pete (Christopher Newhouse) attempts to win his father’s approval. When Imogene (Jill Marie Jones) moves in next door she opens Anora’s world in more ways than one. This dark comedy struggles with issues ranging from sexuality and racism to abuse and adolescence as it explores the relationship of one family amongst these crises.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

5. I Can’t Think Straight: Filmmaker Shanim Sarif returns to Frameline with her sophomore film that explores the love between two women in a culture that rejects homosexuality. Leyla, a London based Muslim, meets Tala through mutual friends as both are involved in heterosexual relationships. However, both realize their passion for each other that leads to Leyla’s self-discovery of her true self, but Tala refuses to face her own personal truth. I Can’t Think Straight is an illuminating film of cultural, religious and personal struggles.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

6. Fruit Fly: Bay Area writer and composer H.P. Mendoza returns to Frameline with his most ambitious film to date. This modern musical finds performance artist Bethesda, a recent Filipino transplant in San Francisco, as she attempts to find her birth mother, and herself. She finds solace in her roommates, who are also on their own personal journeys. There’s Windham, a gay set designer, who introduces Bethesda to the fun nightlife of San Francisco’s gay community; Karen and Sharon, who recently moved in together and are attempting to make their relationship work; and Jacob, a teen who’s runaway from his home in hopes of making it as a musician. Fruit Fly is a vivid portrayal of San Francisco through vivacious musical numbers and the search of one woman to find her true identity.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

7. Mr. Right: Mr. Right is an ensemble piece that takes place in Britain among a group of gay men all searching for love. The film follows these men through humorous and heartbreaking scenes as they attempt to find love among the complexities of contemporary life. It’s a film that represents the pitfalls we all find through our quest for true love.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

8. Still Black: A Portrait of Black Transmen: This documentary recounts the stories of six black transmen and their journeys of becoming the men they are today. Each man tells his tale through a stark black and white picture: of their personal journeys and the hurdles they faced as well as truths they discovered. The stories are funny, moving and at times touching, but it’s refreshing to hear the true stories of people who were able to find that inner freedom we all search for.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars