(Despite the above disclaimer, I don’t mind saying this is among my favorite single films in the Festival!)
A Chinese-Cambodian mother in London resists the overtures of friendship offered by her late son’s boyfriend, whom she has never acknowledged. A beautiful, moving and ruefully comic study in relationships, and in picking up the pieces of one’s life after a loss.
I can’t say enough about this funny, poignant, uplifting film! The central character, young Florian, is an endearing misfit in school—anyone who’s ever felt like a misfit (and haven’t we all?) will really fall for this pudgy kid who just wants to be himself. What I especially love—and one of the reasons you’ll find it as the Closing Night film—is that the writer and director refuse to take the sappy, easy, sentimental route with their story of father and son: they win our hearts with honest and funny dialogue, and make us smile with some of the goofiest disco-fantasy sequences ever. Here’s a rave review from its recent New York premiere.
A supremely well-acted drama from Finland about a woman who falls for an attractive soccer-playing man she knows from her past, when she was still a man. It’s one of several outstanding films this year featuring transgender central characters or subjects (see also the fabulous documentaries Kumu Hina and Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story).
Think of a John Hughes film transposed to Brazil: a teenage boy and his best gal-pal both fall for the new kid in school. But the fabulous twist here is that the boy is blind. A marvelous, sensitive take on adolescence and what it means to be “seen” for who you are.
and Violette Leduc: In Pursuit of Love
I had (embarrassingly) never even heard of the ground-breaking post-war French writer Violette Leduc before seeing these films—she was mentored by Simone de Beauvoir and way ahead of her time in her feminism and frank sexuality. Now there is a sumptuous feature film (by the director of Séraphine) starring the terrific Emmanuelle Devos (above), and an artful documentary that both make her a memorable literary pioneer.
This contemporary dysfunctional romance is a bit like HBO’s “Girls” in that the main character is a hot mess: a twenty-something Persian American confused about everything (including her sexuality), and always her own worst enemy. Features a very sharp script, and a first-time director/star!
Stars Nia Vardalos (from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as an over-the-top meddling mom who enters her teenage son into a college scholarship competition for out gay high school students…long before he has declared his sexual orientation.
An outstanding drama about a misunderstood effeminate boy in Caracas. This is no Ma vie en rose in its bleak family dynamics, but nonetheless extremely well realized and performed, especially by the kid actors.
The opening night documentary – an incredible inside look, shot over 5 years, at the attempt to overturn California’s Prop 8. Even though you know the outcome, this is a riveting account, like being a fly on the wall to an historic civil rights battle. All 4 plaintiffs will be on hand!
I am not always a fan of docudrama, but this pitch-perfect retelling of a little-known chapter in postwar gay history is amazing: alternating between wonderful interviews and high-sheen period re-creations ,it tells the story of the groundbreaking Swiss homophile society (and eponymous magazine) called Der Kreis (“The Circle”). I love this film – director Stefan Haupt is coming from Zurich, too!
Can’t wait to meet the man himself, as he and his husband Jim Ready will be at the Castro to take in this chronicle of the bumpy road to becoming the nation’s most prominent gay politician.
The powerful story of a group of African American women from Newark who were accused in the tabloids of being a “Gang of Killer Lesbians” after a street altercation with a man in Manhattan. A gripping account of racism, homophobia and justice denied.
Nancy Kates’s thoughtful and deeply engrossing account of the life and (self-)image of America’s most glamorous and prolific public intellectual.
A four-film program of dramas, docs and shorts reflecting this perilous moment in Russian LGBT life. I have a separate blog entry about the Russian films. I especially recommend the crime drama Stand and the documentary Campaign of Hate, followed by a discussion including filmmaker Michael Lucas, international LGBT rights activist Julie Dorf, and the amazing and fearless journalist Masha Gessen. Plus who can pass up a shorts program called Pussy vs. Putin?
A free panel taking a look at the joys, challenges, and new cinematic approaches to telling LGBT history – a subject close to my heart. I’ll moderate a discussion among a great group of award-winning filmmakers.
Even if I haven't exactly exhausted my "favorites," I do hope at least I've gotten you excited about some of the offerings at this year's Frameline festival. If you have specific questions about these or the other 200-odd film titles, just shoot me a question. I'll try to answer it...as long as I'm not in one of the screenings, chuckling, weeping. swooning...