And we're off! (Or off our rockers.) In the midst of pandemic and fires, and 3 months postponed from our traditional Pride month, the team of Frameline44 has assembled an 11-day virtual festival of some really wonderful films -- 77 of them, from 24 countries - to keep you sane, engaged, titillated and inspired. Practically every screening has a unique Q&A or panel attached to it, too. Some of my personal festival highlights are below, but I encourage you to browse the whole program. Most films are available for the whole festival Sept. 17 - 27 – though you need to be a ticketholder with a billing ZIP code in California for all but the free programs.
World cinema standouts
No Hard Feelings
Winner of this year's Teddy Award in Berlin, this drama takes us inside the lives of several generations of Iranian immigrants in Germany as they navigate feelings of outsiderness, solidarity and surprising love.
This lovely feature from Chile is about a 70-year-old widow who "comes of age" late in life and finds independence and romance despite the objections of her small town and her family. A quiet gem and debut feature from a talented newcomer.
Bold, sexy (XXX), wildly inventive, and even touching: another first feature from South America (Brazil) explores the rich fantasy life of a sad sack factory worker. I call it "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" meets "Tom of Finland."
Two of Us
Mado and Nina have been a couple for more than 20 years....but Mado's family has no clue. This marvelously acted suspenseful film set in France stars the incomparable Barbara Sukowa (check out the post-film interview I did with her and the director...marred only by her wonky Internet connection!). Note: this film is only available on the last weekend of the festival and tickets are limited.
Set and shot in the midst of Taiwan's landmark movement to become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, this is a refreshing, dynamically shot and performed romantic drama. It centers on the challenges of an out gay teacher as he juggles the pressures of his workplace, an affair with a married man, and a still prejudiced society.
Timely docs about other times
Killing Patient Zero
If you want to be reminded how the nation both ignored a deadly virus during the AIDS epidemic, and also panicked in its need to find a scapegoat...see this important film that corrects a longheld injustice. It's a well-researched portrait of Gaetan Dugas (vilified as the "Man Who Brought AIDS to North America") and SF journalist Randy Shilts, who shone a spotlight on AIDS when it was being ignored but also opened the door to Dugas becoming stereotyped as the disease's "Typhoid Mary." Personal note: Brian Freeman is a featured interviewee, along with Fran Lebowitz, B. Ruby Rich, and many people who knew and worked with Dugas and Shilts. Riveting viewing.
A fascinating look at a crucial and relatively unknown turning point in LGBTQ history: the effort in the 1960's-70s to remove homosexuality from being considered a mental illness by the psychiatric establishment. A great story of uncelebrated heroes.
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson
A powerful and timely drama that movingly addresses police violence and the vulnerability of Black queer lives.
Encounters: International Short Dramas
I was delighted to curate these six films from four continents: each, in its own way, is a story about the surprises that can happen when people meet.
And there are some fun free programs too, such as Pixar's Out, a panel discussion I'm moderating with some of the cast and crew of the Broadway revival (and upcoming Netflix film) The Boys in the Band, and a festive auction. Hope to "see" you online, and I hope you find something unique to enjoy in this surprisingly rich September festival.