Bestival festival news!
by Roberto Friedman
With this week's opening of the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival, our thoughts are full of film festival news. Last week, for example, Frameline38 , the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, announced its Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night films for this year's edition. The world's first and largest LGBT film festival is coming up on June 19-29, in San Francisco and the East Bay. The complete Frameline38 program will be announced on Mon., May 19. Tickets for Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night films are now on sale to members only.
Their opening-night film will be The Case Against 8 (directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White), a look at the first Supreme Court case concerning marriage equality. "Shot over five years and featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, the film follows the four plaintiffs and the unlikely dream team of attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies as they challenge California's Proposition 8 from San Francisco to the Supreme Court." (All blurbs supplied by Frameline.)
Frameline's Centerpiece Documentary will be To Be Takei (director Jennifer M. Kroot, editor/co-director Bill Weber), celebrating "the Star Trek legend, marriage-equality advocate, spokesperson for Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment camps during World War II, Facebook phenomenon (with nearly 7 million fans), and the recipient of this year's Frameline Award, superstar George Takei." Beam us up!
Centerpiece Narrative will be Lilting (UK director Hong Khaou). "Ben Whishaw and Pei-Pei Cheng shine in Hong Khaou's debut feature. Exploring matters of grief, memory, and cultural barriers with sensitivity and emotional truth, Lilting tells the story of a Chinese mother and her son's British lover attempting to move on after the death of their beloved. Together, they struggle to connect without a common language, and through a translator they piece together memories of a man they both loved."
Finally, Frameline38's closing-night film will be I Feel Like Disco (German director Axel Ranisch). "Florian is a pudgy teen who loves disco and struggles with his sexuality. But his overbearing dad just doesn't get him at all. When mom is suddenly gone, father and son must reconcile their relationship in this stellar fantasy-fueled coming-of-age dramatic comedy."
Frameline38 screenings will take place in San Francisco at the Castro Theatre, Roxie Theater and Victoria Theatre, and in Berkeley at the Rialto Cinema Elmwood. Watch these pages for upcoming coverage.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Film Society (presenters of the SFIFF) announced the three winners of their 2014 SFFS Documentary Film Fund awards, totaling more than $75,000, which support feature-length documentaries in postproduction. One of them has a clear LGBT angle. The Joneses director Moby Longinotto and producer Aviva Wishnow were awarded $30,627, which should help them move on to the completion of their film. Per SFFS: "The Joneses is a portrait of Jheri, a 73-year-old transgender trailer park matriarch who lives in Bible Belt Mississippi. Reconciled with her family after years of estrangement and now living with two of her sons, Jheri embarks on a new path to reveal her true self to her grandchildren. Will their family bonds survive?"
Also coming up film festival-wise, on May 10: "The first-ever Radical Faerie Film Festival has a one-night-only screening Sat., May 10, 7:30 p.m., at The Center SF, 548 Fillmore St. The festival features nine short films that embody the radical queer sensibilities inherent in the lives and experience of folks who call themselves Radical Faeries," (blurb: RFFF.) The festival features many West Coast artists, from Vancouver, BC, to Northern California, including San Francisco-based filmmaker Philippe Roques' Faerie Tales and Dylan Vade and Chrys Curtis-Fawley 's Trannymal. Roques will be filmmaker-in-attendance for the screening and following Q&A, as will Benel Dreksler, the star of Mark Levine's Breach of Etiquette, which was filmed on location at the Zuni Mountain Radical Faerie sanctuary in New Mexico.
"A particular treat for San Franciscans is an early work by David Weissman, who has received wide acclaim for his documentaries The Cockettes (2002) and We Were Here (2011). His 1984 short captures the brilliant antics of some former members of the Angels of Light theatrical troupe, some of the same tribe of people the Cockettes were part of.
"Tickets are available in advance online at www.brownpapertickets.com. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door."
What do you think of the cover of the new issue of Opera News featuring superstar cover-boy gay countertenor Philippe Jaroussky? One queer operagoer has a quaint qualm: "I'm not saying it's not fetching, but I'm also uncomfortable that, what with his being openly gay and all, they show him ass-first, jacket vent open. I think it's on the edge of slur. He also has a nice face, and can sing, you know?"
Finally, B.A.R. contributing writer Victoria A. Brownworth has won the Keystone Press Award from the Pennsylvania State Media Association for her four-part series on trans women sex workers that she did last summer for PGN. Brownworth spent four months on the streets of North Philly and Kensington interviewing for that series. The series is one of only two gay-themed stories to win, from a list of 45 awards. Now it's on to compete for the Society of Professional Journalists and the NLGJA awards!