But rather than calling these "favorites," I am simply calling out here those screenings I personally am especially looking forward to, whether for selfish reasons (e.g., a shorts program I am proud of) or because of special guests, or simply a beautiful film that should be seen on the big screen.
A reminder that the festival runs June 16-26, including a full week in the East Bay. And if a film you made, or are excited to see, isn't listed below, it's not because I don't love it. It's that I don't have room on this blog to reproduce the entire Frameline40 website!
Quirky comedies, sexy dramas
Among the 21 first-time features in this year's festival, Tom Brown's quirky comedy centers on the foibles of a lovelorn San Francisco man--a longtime HIV survivor--and his maddening interactions with a Kafkaesque health insurance bureaucracy. A wonderful cast including James Roday, Danny Glover, Robin Weigert and Khandi Alexander give a special shine to the Lower Haight and other out-of-the-way corners of the city. Look for a good showing of cast and crew at the world premiere.
After a jaw-dropping erotic first scene that would earn an X-rating if it hadn't been shot in free-wheeling Paris, this story of two guys' first encounter turns a surprising corner, as the guys head out on bikes into the dawn streets of Paris to discover who each other really is. Sexy, romantic, bold and very well executed.
Turn back the clock to the heady days of second-wave feminism in this 1970s romance set (once again!) in la belle France - what is it with the French and their incredibly sexy dramas? Here our heroines are grounded farm girl Delphine and firebrand bisexual Carole (Cécile de France).
Oh la la.
The picture-perfect lives of a Viennese couple take a disturbing turn that makes them question everything they thought they knew about themselves. This psychologically compelling portrait is pretty unforgettable - maybe that's why it won this year's Teddy Award in Berlin for best feature.
Feature dramas: Youth in focus
This exquisite new feature from French auteur André Téchiné looks at the rivalrous relationship between two teenagers living in a remote village in the French Pyrenees. The cinematography and landscapes are breathtaking (see it at the Castro!), and the story is an insightful foray into the turmoil of adolescence.
Three misfit high school girls in Sweden discover a magical plant that allows them to be transformed for short periods, werewolf-like, into boys...and they make the most of their adventure. This brilliantly realized fantastic tale has elements of both horror and humor, and ultimately is a quite poignant depiction of three young women's different experiences of gender identity.
Told from the point-of-view of a 13-year-old girl, Rara is the story of two moms in Chile who are raising their daughters while trying to shield them from both the judgments of their conservative town and the custody battle that is brewing with an ex-husband. Well written, acted and made.
Documentaries: Social Justice Issues to the Fore!
Our Opening Night film is an exuberant and politically engaged look at the current ballroom scene in New York City, centering on the lives and inspiring fierceness of talented voguers who are mainly queer and trans youth of color. Think of it as a savvy, contemporary update of Paris Is Burning for the age of #BlackLivesMatter.
A powerful film telling the nightmarish story of four Latina lesbians wrongly convicted of a terrible crime during the insanity of the "Satanic ritual abuse" scare of the 90's. It's good filmmaking and compelling stories, and best of all - all four subjects will be here in person!
We couldn't have known, when programming this film, that the issue of transgender people's rights to use a bathroom would become a nationwide hot button. The touching story of the Mathis family's battle to protect their delightful young child's basic rights is not only an excellent film--it follows a simple Colorado family as they get caught in a national media glare--but it can now be seen as a bellwether for our current controversy. If you want to put a human face on the issue, come to the screening, where you will also meet the courageous mom and little Coy herself.
Documentaries: Non-Fiction Revelations
At first glance, it's the thrilling behind-the-scenes story of the 7 young dancers plucked from obscurity in 1990 by Madonna to become her posse for the Blonde Ambition tour and the groundbreaking documentary Truth or Dare. But it is so much more: it's about fleeting fame, secrecy, resilience, trying to grow into maturity and surviving your own demons. Best of all: 5 of the dancers will be in attendance.
An intimate and fascinating portrait of two young Chinese professionals--one a gay man, the other a lesbian--as they face societal and family pressures to find a sham marriage and provide their parents with grandchildren. It's deeply insightful into a different culture, in the way only a great observational doc can be.
An inventive biography of one of Hollywood's greatest costume designers, Orry-Kelly, who not only created indelible images dressing the casts of Casablanca, Auntie Mame and Some Like It Hot...but he was Cary Grant's secret lover (shhh....we're not supposed to know that). This is a delightful and dishy film by Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career.)
Among my favorite people from many years of directing the SF Jewish Film Festival are the sibling filmmaking team of Barak and Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, The Queen Has No Crown). Their new film follows an Israeli man, Saar Maoz, a long-term HIV survivor living in London, as he considers reconnecting with his estranged family back on a conservative kibbutz. The surprising turns and revelations throughout the film are very rewarding. The subject will be here, too!
Short but not small
An eclectic mix of five short films, all catalyzed by someone having to disclose something. Gives the lie to the old canard that guys just don't--or won't--talk.
Those of you who are familiar with me know that I am not especially a fan-boy for genre flicks, and horror movies usually make me shut my eyes and cringe. But the short films in the creepshow category I came across this year - including some really funny ones - demanded to be seen.
And lest we forget...
And I hope you all come out to meet (or get introduced to) the legendary Bob Hawk, recipient of the Frameline Award this year and mentor-muse-"film-whisperer" to generations of queer indie filmmakers. We'll be showing the new film about his life, Film Hawk.
World premiere. Closing night. Cast in attendance.
Our lives and city on the big screen.
This will be a blast.