World Cinema - a smorgasbord...
A striking, haunting drama set during a coming-of-age initiation ceremony among South Africa's Xhosa community, where notions of masculinity collide with forbidden affections. Sensitively written and performed.
Set on a rugged Yorkshire sheep farm, this tale of a love that begins to take root between a sullen lad and the new Romanian farmhand is a slow burn, featuring muddy (torrid) frolicking and memorable scenes of animal husbandry. What's not to like? Director Francis Lee in person at the Castro!
Deep in a Mexican rain forest, a handsome anthropologist travels to a remote village to record the last two remaining speakers of a dying indigenous language, only to find the the two men refuse to speak to each other. His quest takes him on mystical, spiritual and wonderful journey into the past.
I was fascinated and appalled to learn the tragic history of the persecution of gay men in the UK during the 50s and 60s. This drama recounts the story of one man, Peter Wildeblood, and skillfully interweaves documentary testimony as well.
Among the docs, hidden histories and biographies galore
A marvelous, archivally rich and revelatory look at the fierce, iconoclastic Mexican torch singer Chavela Vargas. Pedro Almodóvar may have re-discovered her in 1990s, but here her whole messy and thrilling life gets its due.
While yes, it's an unabashed valentine to the city of San Francisco and the charms and openness that attracted its favorite son to live and write here, it's also a poignant look back at the last four decades of gay and lesbian life in America, through a novelist's eye. Well-crafted and told. It was our opening night screening (sold out) but just added an encore screening by popular demand.
A gripping account of the decades-long effort at the highest levels of U.S. leadership to rid the U.S. government of homosexuals starting with the Cold War--and the battle for justice led by civil rights pioneer Frank Kameny. Filmmaker Josh Howard & author David Johnson in person.
Fab US Features
The incomparable Alan Cumming will be here to receive the 2017 Frameline Award and bask in what I know will be a thunderous reception to his beautiful performance as a man of a certain age trying to bridge a gap between generations. Wilson Cruz also expected in the house!
The festival boasts some terrific South Asian-themed films this year. Jennifer Reeder's delightful feature traces a budding romance between a Pakistani-American lawyer and a former female lucha libre wrestler...while she also negotiates bringing her traditional mother around to a more modern acceptance of 21st century love. (Mom is played wonderfully by the veteran actress Shabana Azmi, who starred in Deepa Mehta's controversial Fire some 20 years ago!)
A celebration of being your true oddball self, this is a fun, music-filled, affirming--but not trivial--coming-of-age story set in a high school, where the resident gender-expansive "freak" has a few lessons to teach the mean kids. Starring the wonderful Alex Lawther (who played young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game) with a memorable turn by Bette Midler as his boozy mom, and cameos from Laverne Cox, John McEnroe and Abigail Breslin.
"Only at a Film Festival" - some offbeat picks
A new digital re-mastering of Isaac Julien's 1989 classic meditation on the Harlem Renaissance and queer black desire--an especially timely reminder that the poetic, boundary-crossing Moonlight has deep and fierce precedents. A perfect set-up for attending our panels focusing on opportunities and challenges facing LGBTQ filmmakers of color.
Don't be fooled by the apparent grimness of the topic (it's the story of a quadruple amputee) - this is a unique, uplifting, wry and funny documentary about resilience and the quirks of the human spirit.
The longest title in the festival and definitely the longest film (clocking in at just over 3 hours), this is a cinephile's must-see. In a fictional re-imagining of the iconoclastic political activism that led to Canada's 2012 "Maple Spring" (think "Occupy" on steroids), the film deploys a brilliant arsenal of cinematic styles to ask some pretty deep questions about what real change demands. It critiques youthful rebellion while also eviscerating the status quo. Epic in every way. Bring a cushion.