In the midst of the pandemic, the team at Frameline – despite postponing the majority of the 2020 festival to sometime in the Fall – decided we couldn’t let Pride month go by without some form of film celebration. But the initial idea -- a couple of days of online film offerings -- has ballooned into a 4-day pop-up festival of nearly 40 brand new films including new feature narratives, powerful documentaries, 3 signature shorts programs (Fun in Boys Shorts, Fun in Girls Shorts, and Transtastic), and a passel of free screenings offered in concert with the upcoming AIDS 2020 conference.
I’ve learned a lot during this period about the advantages and challenges of presenting a festival online—one plus is that I have gotten to conduct Q&A’s with far-flung guests whom we might never have been able to bring to an in-person festival (like actors Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Gemma Arterton, filmmaker David France and Russian activist Maxim Lapunov, who is in exile in an undisclosed European country). One disadvantage is that the screenings need to be geo-blocked to California (that is, distributors and producers have limited our viewing audience to California residents only…sorry to my non-CA friends and readers).
Below are my personal highlights for the Frameline44 Pride Showcase. The good news is you can see pretty much all of the films at any time between Thursday June 25 – Sunday June 28 by navigating to www.frameline.org/festival and purchasing individual tickets or passes. We have suggested viewing slots because that’s when special live introductions, Q&A’s, and surprise live performances will take place, so we hope you do some “appointment screening” at the suggested times. But the films are available to watch all weekend, and the Q&A’s etc. will be posted after-the-fact to Frameline’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
Ahead of the Curve at the Drive-In!
We’re thrilled to be hosting the world premiere of this rousing documentary charting the influence and legacy of the groundbreaking magazine Curve (formerly Deneuve), which became a touchstone of lesbian visibility through its tenacious founder Franco Stevens. The most fun will be to see it at the West Wind Drive-In in Concord – yes, a real in-person screening. But you can also watch it online.
Twilight’s Kiss (Suk Suk)
This is a tender, unsentimental and eye-opening romantic drama set in Hong Kong, featuring characters we rarely see: older gay men navigating social pressures to maintain their (straight) family structures. It’s a quiet and very fine film.
This is quite a discovery, a time capsule, thought lost forever: a 14-minute film made in 1972, which just resurfaced, showing San Francisco’s first officially permitted gay pride parade, and including fascinating voiceover commentary by participants and attendees. The roots of street protest are fascinating to see, especially at this moment. This one is free, by the way.
Welcome to Chechnya
David France’s searing and urgent documentary takes you right inside the effort to rescue persecuted gays and lesbians in Chechnya. This is necessary viewing, IMO.
Fun in Boys Shorts
My colleagues and I had a blast putting together this annual compilation of silliness. I especially love “The Shawl”…an animated documentary.
This free screening may already be sold out (except to passholders)…but I wanted to mention it anyway because it will be released later this summer by IFC. It’s a sweeping romance set mainly during World War II, featuring terrific performances by Gemma Arterton and a young unknown kid playing the boy who is foisted upon her during the London Blitz. Also co-starring Penelope Wilton and Tom Courtenay, so you Brit-film fans shouldn’t miss it!