The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival announced its lineup Tuesday for the 2007 event, to be held June 14-24. The world’s oldest LGBT film festival, it’s still the largest among a growing number of such festivals, and screens mostly at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, with other venues expanding into the Mission (Roxie Film Center and Victoria Theatre) and the East Bay (Parkway Theater).
The Festival opens this year with a new one from cineaste-favored filmmaker André Téchiné. “The Witnesses,” described by the festival as a “cinematic string quartet…of four fascinating lives” in Paris, 1984, during the early years of the AIDS era, is a U.S. premiere event. The Festival closes with a return engagement by director Jamie Babbit (“But I’m a Cheerleader”) in “Itty Bitty Titty Committee,” which is produced by Andrea Sperling, winner of this year’s Frameline Award. As its Centerpiece presentation, the Festival offers “The Bubble,” by director Eytan Fox (“Yossi and Jagger”), which creates an unlikely Romeo and Juliet of an Israeli soldier and a young Palestinian man.
Among the festival’s world premieres are Seth Randal’s “The Fall of ’55,” about a 1955 gay witchhunt in Boise, Idaho, Sean Kaminsky’s behind-the-indie doc featurette, “Gifted and Challenged: The Making of Shortbus.” Another world premiere, David Casey’s “Motherf&$#er: A Movie,” looks at the revivification of NY queer nightlife post the “Party Monster” era. And Jonah Markowitz’s “Shelter,” the first film from an indie production plan at here! Networks, places same-sex love within the Cali surfer scene.
A highlight of the Showcase features the Festival presents may turn out to be “Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother,” by Matthew Barbato and Nikki Parrott, a thorny chronicle of Arquette on the road to sex-reassignment surgery. Former Frameline Award winner Pratibha Parmer returns with the feature “Nina’s Heavenly Delights.”
In what may be a shift, the Festival features more films with aging and elders, marriage, and parenting/adoption as subjects than AIDS/HIV. The program appears to have a strong selection of animated works, including the world premiere of another “Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World.” On the international front, the Festival’s films reach far beyond the English-speaking world, with Korea’s “No Regret,” Argentina’s “Glue,” and the Cuban doc “Odd People Out,” about novelist Reinaldo Arenas.
Festival Artistic Director Michael Lumpkin admitted in the Q&A period that the Brazilian short “Cowboy Forever” was his favorite of SFILGBTFF this year. Director of Programming Jennifer Morris revealed her top pics as one that Frameline itself helped fund, the short “Pariah,” about a black lesbian teen and her family, and the retrospective screening of Lizzie Borden’s “Born in Flames.”
Lumpkin helped close the Festival press conference on a light note, listing the films one should be careful not to confuse when perusing the catalogue — the Italian lesbian film “Shelter Me” is not the California surfer film “Shelter,” which is not the Australian surfer film “Tan Lines.” Likewise, no connection, Lumpkin noted, between “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” and the documentary “Bears.”
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