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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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Arts + CultureMoviesFrameline Fest puts Pride onscreen, from laptop to Jumbotron

Frameline Fest puts Pride onscreen, from laptop to Jumbotron

Senior lesbian rockers, baby drag queens, and Bay Area transgender heroes shine in 45th LGBTQ film showcase

The Parade and other big-crowd elements of Gay Pride Month may not yet have returned for this year, but Frameline—aka the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival—is definitely edging back towards business-as-usual with its 45th annual program.

That blowout, which runs this Thurs/10 through Sun/27, offers 18 days of queer cinema mixing online content (available to viewers nationally) with in-person screenings. The latter include familiar-favorite venues the Roxie (Sun/20 only) and the Castro (which re-opens for the first time in 15 months for the festival’s last two days), as well as drive-ins (three dates at SF’s Fort Mason Flix, one at Concord’s West Wind Solano), plus two nights at the ballpark.

Yup, Oracle Park’s Jumbotron will host consecutive evenings, and not just with any fare: Both occasions will provide the local premiere of big new stage musical adaptations, the Hamilton creators’ slice of NYC life In the Heights from Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu (on Fri/11), and the next night baby-drag-queen-empowerment Brit hit Everybody’s Talking About Jamie from Jonathan Butterell, who developed and directed its original theatrical incarnations. These movies will be opening in regular theaters soon (well, Amazon Prime in Jamie’s case), but you know nothing will be nearly as memorable as watching them al fresco while overlooking the Bay. (Wear warm clothes, though, because you don’t want the experience to be memorably freezing.)

The official opener this Thursday will also be outdoors and very musical, though not exactly in a Broadway idiom. Bobbi Jo Hart’s Fanny: The Right to Rock is a fine documentary about the titular all-female band that recorded several major-label albums and toured with top-tier fellow acts in the early 1970s. Yet they never quite “made it” commercially, no doubt because rock audiences weren’t really ready yet for women who seriously raaaawked, played their own instruments, gave off a maybe-kinda-lesbian vibe (for good reason), etc. Somehow Fanny managed to get forgotten even by people who worship such fellow (but later) glass-ceiling breakers as The Runaways, Heart, Chrissie Hynde and Suzi Quatro.

Drawing on terrific archival performance footage, this belated tribute rights that wrong. It will be tied to a Fri/25 panel discussion on “Women Who Rock” (also including participants from Invisible, a doc about “hidden” lesbians in the country music industry). That’s just one of several online discussions during the festival, including ones with performer Wilson Cruz, plus others about youth, indigenous peoples, African-American and disabled representation in queer cinema and beyond.

A number of features this year offer more portraits-of-the-artist including documentaries on the mid-20th century’s two most famous gay male U.S. writers (Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation), star choreographers (Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the WatersAileyBeing Thunder), a Sonoma County “gonzo sleaze” erotica studio (Raw! Uncut! Video!), drag superstars of yesteryear (P.S. Burn This Letter Please) and LGBTQ funny papers—the latter via Vivian Kleiman’s No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics, the festival’s official closing selection.

There are also episodics (BettyGenera+ion); themed shorts programs encompassing everything from animation to trans stories to “Dark Twisted Fantasies”; and features from locations as disparate as Australia (The Greenhouse), Estonia (Firebird), the Philippines (Metamorphosis), France (Summer of 85), South Korea (Made on the Rooftop), Germany (BlissBoy Meets BoyNico), Czech Republic (Charlatan), Nigeria (Walking With Shadows), Belgium (Lola) and the U.K. (Sweetheart). A special spotlight on Taiwan offers shorts and three features (As We Like ItWill You Still Love Me Tomorrow?Dear Tenant)

Of course there are plenty of U.S. (and Canadian) features as well, including the you’ll-laugh-you-cry likes of pandemic two-hander Language Lessons, the sharp surrogacy comedy Milkwater, flamboyant vehicles for veterans Udo Kier (Swan Song) and Cloris Leachman (Jump, Darling), camp faux-Soviet time piece Potato Dreams of America, and the South of France-shot polyamorous tangle Ma Belle, My Beauty.

As ever, there is much in the way of Bay Area talent and subject matter, some highlights being the world premiere of the late Debra Chasnoff’s stage-4 cancer chronicle Prognosis: Notes on Living, alongside other documentaries about SF royalty (Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria), let’s-put-on-a-show-dom (Baloney), sex education (A Sexplanation), and the ever-expanding borders of identity—that last in Monika Treut’s Genderation, a twenty-years-later followup to her Gendernauts—hosted by 48hills.

That’s not nearly all—you can comb through the program and schedule yourself at www.frameline.org where all relevant info on ticket purchases (and free shows) can be found.

Frameline45 runs June 10-27 online and at various Bay Area locations.

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