The look is Little Red Book, and the contents of the bright red catalogue with an “XXX” on the cover for the 30th edition of Frameline’s San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival are meant to evoke the cultural revolution this particular festival helped to build beginning in 1976. At age 30, however, the Festival is the oldest and the largest on the now international circuit of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender film festivals, and faces something of a repositioning task in a world where the highest profile films with queer themes reach all the way up to the Oscar.
This year’s program, running June 15-26, and announced today by Frameline’s Executive Director, Michael Lumpkin, and Director of Programming, Jennifer Morris, answers the call with a mix of genres and narrative types so eclectic no multiplex could hope to replicate it. Those include surprising stories from the international LGBT frontiers, such as “Shabnam Mousi,” a Frameline-distributed Bollywood musical based on the life of a real person, a eunuch who rose out of India’s periphery to political power, as well as “Broken Sky,” the second feature from the gifted young Mexican director Julian Hernandez (“A Thousand Clouds of Peace”).
Frameline30, as it’s also being called, opens with Maria Maggenti’s “Puccini for Beginners,” which played in Dramatic Competition at Sundance, and represents a return of sorts for the Festival, which opened 11 years ago with Maggenti’s “The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love.” The Festival closes with Spanish film “Queens,” by Manuel Gomez Pereira, which celebrates, screwball-style, same-sex marriage, as well as a few of the queens of Almodovar’s oeuvre — Veronica Forque, Carmen Maura, and Marisa Paredes. Its centerpiece presentation, Francois Ozon’s “Time to Leave,” with Melvil Poupaud and Jeanne Moreau, is a particularly appropriate choice, given the Festival’s long showcasing of Ozon’s short and feature filmmaking, from “See the Sea” to “Criminal Lovers” to “Water Drops on Burning Rocks.” Ozon receives the Festival’s 2006 Frameline Award. A “Showcase” of eight films have been chosen by the Festival to represent current trends in queer filmmaking, and includes, among others, “Pick Up the Mic,” a documentary about the queer hip hop movement, the long awaited “Strangers with Candy” feature based on the cult-hit Amy Sedaris TV show, as well as “20 Centimeters,” about a transvestite with transsexual longings, which the Festival places in the “outrageous musical” category.
One of the Festival’s U.S. features already gathering buzz is from the San Francisco Bay Area, “Colma: The Musical,” which premiered at the SF International Asian American Film Festival in March. Among the Festival’s 11 world premieres is the newest by one of its founders, Marc Huestis, the documentary on aging with plastic surgery and grace, “Lulu Gets a Facelift.”
Frameline’s concurrent Persistent Vision queer media arts conference runs from June 19-22, and features high profile panelists including Hedwig and “Shortbus” creator John Cameron Mitchell, TV host Keith Boykin, filmmakers Andrea Sperling, Guinivere Turner and Cheryl Dunye, Sundance programmer Shari Frilot, and film critic B. Ruby Rich. The title of one serious panel — “We want our Dykeback Mountain” — drew a laugh from the audience assembled at the press conference.
Frameline30 is also highlighting its cash awards: A Michael J. Berg Documentary Award, a Dockers first feature award, and, for the first time, cash prizes for the Festival’s Audience Awards in the categories of Feature, Documentary, and Short. In total, the prizes are the largest collection of their kind on the LGBT film festival circuit.
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