Sunday, June 29, 2008

Frameline 32 - Day 11 - Closing Night

Frameline 32 (aka the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival) celebrates its closing day, June 29. Traditionally, with the "Gay Day" Pride Parade and all the festivities, the Festival has limited screenings, usually just four programs, including the encore of "Fun in Boys Shorts" and "Fun in Girls Shorts" and an internationally themed matinee, before the Closing Night Feature. Unfortunately, I was unable to preview any of them. Ah well... I hope to be there, next year!

Again, I'd like to thank the generosity of Frameline (namely Laura McGinnis) and Larsen Associates (thank you, Karen and Chris!), for making so many screeners available to me down here in Atlanta!

The award winners were announced:
The Audience Award for Feature went to XXY
The Audience Award for Documentary went to PAGEANT
The Audience Award for Short Subject went to NO BIKINI

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Ben Lerman's Lecherous Ukulele

The Southern Exposure Gay Musicians Series has unceremoniously had to leave Blake's on the Park, here in Atlanta, and last night, it dropped in at FROGS Cantina, across from the east side of Piedmont Park. I attended a number of weeks ago, for the appearance of the fabulous Miss Zanna Don't, who has led me to a performer of a different kind. As I've mentioned before, I am not really an expert on club performances, so I will just offer a brief impression.

Ben Lerman is currently on his "Ukelear Meltdown Tour". Yes, the idea of touring gay clubs and cabarets with a ukulele may seem insane, if not acoustically retro, in this technically driven, over-mic'ed and lip sync'ed age of club entertainment. However, that only scratches the surface of this comic musician's act, which borders on performance art. Physically, he is the anathema of an "Abercrombie and Fitch club kid" that is still prevalant, even with the insurgent counter culture of "the bears", of which he is a self proclaimed member. Where his act is so comically subversive comes from his exceptionally appealing, unassuming, non-threatening and welcoming disposition, that belies his bawdy, if not downright raunchy and provocative lyrics! His appearance at Mondo Homo Dirty South 2008, which preceded the film, PANSY DIVISION: Life in a Gay Rock Band, prompted an online debate about his "political correctness" in his cover of Riskay's "Let Me Smell Yo' Dick", which I personally found borderline shocking, but wholly hysterical! At tonight's performance, he didn't go into that racially treacherous territory, but focused on gender, or more specifically, biology, which did prompt one of his fans to leave the room during "Pussy Pantry". This, too, was hysterical, if not sophomorically raunchy. But his lyrics have an educated wit about them that elevates what could be a bunch of "crotch jokes" to some classic, contemporary limericks. Also, his act is a journey to that "place". He introduces himself with "Na-Na-Na-Boo-Boo", an ironically self-effacing ditty, that boasts of his own attributes. As his set continues, he touches briefly on relationships and his youthful exploits, before he leads us to the bottom of the issue, so to speak. I think he is too eager to cross that line of offense to be considered "commercial" and so he is well on his way to cult status! Which is the best status to have, in my book!

Ben Lerman has an extensive touring schedule, which can be viewed at his MySpace page, and more information is available at his homepage,

Maxxxxx says
re BEN LERMAN: "Dooby dooby doo-ooo!"

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Frameline 32 - Day 10 Preview

Frameline 32 (aka the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival) heads into the final stretch by slamming out fifteen programs on Saturday, June 28. The day will end with some queer glittiratti headlined by Margaret Cho, The Kinsey Sicks, and the ubiquitous Perez Hilton, amongst many, appearing at their separate screenings around the festival. Ah, to be actually THERE!!!

I'd start the day with the "Michael Lumpkin Screening" of YES NURSE! NO NURSE! (dir. Pieter Kramer, Netherlands, 2002, 100 mins.) The film was so popular the year it played at the festival that an impromptu encore screening was scheduled during the week! Loes Luca, who plays Nurse Klivia, accepted the Audience Award on Closing Night, and then led the crowd in a couple of verses of the theme. It is one of the most delightfully subversive films I've ever seen. It doesn't shock or offend, but innocently defends the eccentric in all of us. And it's one of the most colorful entries ever at Frameline. I went to both screenings that year, found the video on VCD, then saw it again during the theatrical run at the Castro, and snatched up the DVD. I don't force it on strangers, though...

The afternoon, right before the "Dyke March" is the second program of lesbian, comedy shorts, Dyke Delights, featuring a dozen entries.

MENOPAUSAL GALS GONE WILD (dirs. Donna Marie Nudd, Diane Wilkins, US, 2007, 4 mins.) The twisted creators of the past hits CREM-MATE MUFFY and ANNIE DEAREST are represented again this year with typical, politically incorrect glee! What's a gal to do during a menopausal hot flash, but to flash them! In the format of one of those typically classless video ads for "Girls Gone Wild", Wilkins and Nudd cast a group of mature women, who are willing to let it all hang out for your perverse, erotic delight. Though not as shocking as CREM-MATE MUFFY or as over-the-top as ANNIE DEAREST, this still goes where most comedy shorts don't dare! I Love Them!

CRAFTY (dir. Erik Gernand, US, 2008, 9 mins.) You know, there isn't anything "wrong" with this little battle of sexual wills, between a lesbian and the heterosexual woman she is trying to convince to sign a petition. But there is just something missing that keeps it from striking comedic, if nearly O. Henry levels of irony. There is promise in the premise, but it needs to either be sharpened up or expanded. As it is, it feels... incomplete.

TOI ET MOI (dir. Ali Cotterill, 2008, US, 4 mins.) Simply, a fabulously costumed homage to the "golden era" of music videos! Ah, to be 1982 again!

LEZBRO: DON'T CHA KNOW (dirs. Melinda Bagatelos, Dara Sklar, US, 2008, 10 mins.) In documentary form, this examines the unique friendship between guys and dykes. It is hard to call it a mockumentary, as I think the interview subjects are all genuine, however entertaining their answers are. It also includes a nifty pastiche of old classroom educational films.

A WORK IN PROGRESS (dir. Keshia Coe, US, 2008, 8 mins.) Perhaps the most ambitious of any of these entries, if not of what I have seen of the festival, this little comedy about two writers stuck together on a project, play out their shared emotional past through a series of cinematic sequences that plays as a cinematic and commercial whirlwind, not unlike a sequence from BE KIND REWIND. The two women are fabulously teasing in revealing just enough emotional information to keep the audience on the ride. Director Keshia Coe has a great eye for style and it would be wonderful to see more of her work.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: FEMME EDITION (dir. Mary Guzman, US, 2008, 5 mins.) A fun little Super-8, “how-to” primer, and how to be "femme" yet aggressive enough to get that "butch" to notice you. Mary Guzman is an exceptionally popular San Francisco filmmaker, so expect to hear the crowd roar for her!

OPERATED BY INVISIBLE HANDS (dir. Nicole Brending, US, 2007, 7 mins.) Well, this was a trippy little flick featuring to antique dolls, speaking in French, and playing out a tete a tete, which touches about sex, body image, intimacy and a whole range of surprising issues. Not as subversive as Todd Haynes SUPERSTAR THE KAREN CARPENTER STORY, but very much in the same vein.

LOVE SUCKS (dirs. Ingrid Jungermann, Sara Winters, US, 2008, 10 mins.) This is really fun! Think of the REAL story behind THE HUNGER, where your spouse of hundreds of years decides that you need counseling. The two actresses are a hoot, though the exceptionally effeminate therapist is a bit overplayed. Some of the makeup effects are also simple, yet creepily effective.

THE SHEEP AND THE RANCH HAND: A SEXYQUEER LOVE STORY (dir. Loretta Hintz, US, 2008, 14 mins.) The production values are surprisingly high, for what is the quirkiest film of the fest. A woman dreams about being a sheep, in love with a female ranch hand. It's a bit long, for what is a fairly slim premise.

KING COUNTY (dir. David Quantic, 2008, 7 mins.) From the program notes: "Camille Schwartzbaum searches for a bad ’80s film to turn into the next smash Broadway show in King County." In other words, I LOVED it!! I gotta get a copy of this! The photo is the all, "bear" version of SHOWGIRLS! BWAH!!

THE VICIOUS AND THE DELICIOUS (dir. Tonnette Stanford, Australia, 2008, 11 mins.) A really outrageous comic soap-opera plays like a four minute French and Saunders skit that has been stretched to three times the length. Sort of entertaining at first, but it doesn't seem to move beyond the pastiche it is to support even the eleven minutes.

(SOCIAL CONFLICT MANAGEMENT (dir. Dagny Thompson, Canada, 2005, 8 mins.) was unavailable for preview.)

A JIHAD FOR LOVE (dir. Parvez Sharma, US, 2007, 81 mins.) This could be one of the biggest, if most unique documentaries of the year. It is a simple look at the dilemma, sometimes life threatening, of being a gay Muslim. Interviews with Muslims all over the globe reveal a diaspora of people who have chosen to live true to themselves, yet honor the religion that condemns them. It can be difficult to view, as a great deal of the film protects the anonymity of its subjects. Much of it is out of focus. However, it isn't done out of shame, as much as to protect the interviewees and their families from arrest and, in some cases, death sentences. The technique is used to nearly poetic effect, as these people who we can not see, are also not "seen" by the cultures they are part of. The segments which are in clear focus are also some of the most disturbing: i.e., a discussion between a father and his children about what they feel is just punishment for being gay. They talk in harrowing frankness, particularly since they know that the man they are talking to, their father, is gay. This is another contribution from producer Michael Huffington (yes, Arianna's ex-husband and Republican), who has made a remarkable stamp on the GLBT documentary world these past two years. JIHAD FOR LOVE could almost be considered part of his series of how religion and being gay interact, including his other pieces from last year, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO and WE'RE ALL ANGELS.

ANTARCTICA (dir. Yair Hochner, Israel, 2007, 110 mins.) This is the latest in what seems to be a particular style of ensemble coming from Israel, in the same vein as JELLYFISH and THE BUBBLE. In this case, the plethora of cast only confused me, and I did not find what is described as a "wacky comedy". The inclusion of a crossed-dressed character, what the director attributes as an homage to John Waters and Divine, seemed completely out of sync with the "realism" of the rest of the project. Sorting through the characters, the screenplay and trying to figure out that this is supposed to be funny, was a lot of work for the two hours it spanned.

Maxxxxx says
re DYKE DELIGHTS: "Woo hooo!"
re JIHAD FOR LOVE: "I love you!"
re ANTARCTICA: "Is it bedtime?"

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Frameline 32 - Days 8 and 9 Preview

Frameline 32 (aka the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival) slows down a bit with the weekday screenings of ten programs on Thursday, June 26, and "only" nine programs on Friday, June 27. Of these next two days of screenings, I have only seen two "new" features and two out of the three "Michael Lumpkin Screenings".

Thursday, June 26, begins with a "Michael Lumpkin double feature" of BIG EDEN (dir. Thomas Bezucha, US, 2000, 117 mins.) and WORD IS OUT (dir. Mariposa Film Group, 1977, 124 mins.). I did not see BIG EDEN at its festival screening, but only heard about the overwhelming, warm response it received. When I saw it during its commercial release, which I will admit that I dragged myself to as the plot regarding "a pair of backwoods gay lovers" doesn't readily appeal to me, but it is so much more! I loved it! It was one of the most surprisingly romantic films I'd seen in a long time, regardless of the sexuality involved. The performances are so grounded and without melodrama that I find it by far superior to the soap opera that is BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. I'd love to see BIG EDEN on a BIG screen again! Then there is WORD IS OUT, which I have only seen on television, and that was many, many years ago. It did launch a personal running gag in my circle of friends regarding "The Well of Loneliness", which is a book that several lesbians refer to as life changing. There was just some way in which they referred to it that cracked us up! The film has just undergone a 30th Anniversary Restoration, and I wouldn't expect anything less than the BEST PRINT to be screening at the Castro!

It can be difficult to tell what will be an EVENT SCREENING when going into a film festival, which is part of the gamble and suprise. However,
PANSY DIVISION: Life in a Gay Rock Band (dir. Michael Carmona, US, 2007, 85 mins.) which was screened in Atlanta as part of Mondo Homo Dirty South 2008 (due to the efforts of the FABULOUS Ms. Xanna Don't) should be should be something of an event, as the band is expected to be present, as is the director, I am sure. It provides a great set of flashbacks to living in San Francisco in the 90's and the band itself is a fun group of guys who interview quite well. The actual structure of the film is sort of a hoot as it uses the band's search for a drummer for its historical marker. I think they went through ten or so, with varying results, before the latest one has settled in with them. Through out the clips are various cultural glitteratti of San Francisco, too, (HI, Mark Kleim!) which made me even MORE homesick! As much fun as the film is, the construction is a bit awkward, as the editing leaps around in time. Though the film proceeds chronologically, it uses "history to discuss history". In other words, mixing present day and past interviews to talk about an even earlier past is a tad 'off'. In a cleaner edit, the present day talking heads would either bookend the archives, which would run chronologically, or they would be replaced with a narration. It would resolve the confusion of: He is talking in 2007 about talking in 1998 about 1993, which is also talked about in 2002. It's just an anal qualm of mine. But regardless, it should be a great night at the Victorian!

Friday, June 27, will feature CHRIS AND DON: A LOVE STORY (dirs. Tina Mascara, Guido Santi, US, 2007, 90 mins.), a documentary about the 34-year relationship between writer Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy, who happened to be thirty years apart also, which casts an even more peculiar light on the relationship, and makes for an even more engrossing story. Don Bachardy is the surviving partner, and as the story evolves it isn't so much about Isherwood's achievements as a world renown writer, but Bachardy's growth into his own self, in spite of being in Isherwood's shadow. There is a plethora of photos and film of the two of them over the three decades, though the "talking heads syndrome" does rear its ugly head (HA!) by the end, and not to sound overly critical or catty, but Bachardy has a definitive speaking voice that is hard to stay awake to. It's an earnest and fascinating film that you need to be caffeinated before hand to fully appreciate!

Maxxxxx says
re BIG EDEN: "Oooooo..."
re WORD IS OUT: "Shaddup!"
re PANSY DIVISION: "Dooby dooby dooo-ooo!"
re CHRIS AND DON: "What's your name?"

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Frameline 32 - Days 6 and 7 Preview

Frameline 32 (aka the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival) continues with weekday screenings with ten programs on Tuesday, June 24, including the CENTERPIECE feature, and eleven programs on Wednesday, June 25.

The Tuesday matinee tribute to Michael Lumpkin continues with BOUND (dirs. The Wachowski Brothers, US, 1996, 108 mins.) Yes, I was there in 1996 when the Castro nearly melted down during the standing ovation after the screening! In fact, the audience reaction throughout the film was so intense, that the Wachowski Brothers talk about it on their commentary on the DVD. Perhaps the first, truly commercial flick with lesbian content since THE HUNGER, the audience ATE! IT! UP! The performances are all as quirky and wonderful as Jennifer Tilly always is, and Joe Pantoliano and Christopher Meloni are present to add some beefcake to the mix. This was the first film from the Wachowskis, who then launched their next project, THE MATRIX, and were never seen of in the "indie" circuit again...

The Centerpiece feature isXXY (dir. Lucia Puenzo, Argentina/Spain/France, 2007, 91 mins.), which I was able to see at this year's Atlanta Film Festival. Argentina's official entry for the Foreign Language Oscar for 2007, features a mesmerizing and unique performance from its young lead, Ines Efron. It is difficult to talk about her character without giving away spoilers. However, she near brilliantly maneuvers through the complicated emotional and physical conflicts her character faces. The film itself is typical of what I have experienced of Argentine cinema: it is bleak and slow. However, in this instance, the plot has a physical hook that keeps the screenplay from becoming too inwardly directed and, for lack of a better terminology, Stuff Happens! Hopefully stuff will happen for Efron and we will see much more from her!

SHE'S A BOY I KNEW (dir. Gwen Haworth, US, 2007, 70 mins.) As the title so aptly points out, this documents the familial reactions to a male-to-female transgender process. The details of Gwen Haworth's (director and subject) transition are mentioned in passing. The interviews with his parents, sisters and ex-wife fill the film, as well as a great deal of family video and pictures. This generosity towards the interviewees keeps the film from being overtly self indulgent, as the process is not about HER, but about how her family adapts and copes with "the loss of a son", and most remarkably, the loss of a daughter-in-law, as the parents do not withhold comment on what this did to his marriage. The parents are exceptionally frank and have no hesitation in their remarks or emotionally revealing themselves. This is probably the best documentary I've seen about the transition process, considering that the subject matter isn't really my cup of tea to begin with!

The Michael Lumpkin tribute continues on Wednesday, June 25, with LILIES (dir. John Grayson, Canada, 1996, 95 mins.) The year after BOUND rocked the house, this film generated a ten minute standing ovation at its screening! I was there for this, too! (Lucky me!!) John Grayson, who had some success with the first AIDS musical, PATIENT ZERO, scored pay dirt here in adapting Michel Marc Bouchard’s play. The able cast, including Brent Carver, is absolutely fabulous. You can feel their appreciation for being given such a strong script to deliver. However, ironically, as much as I LOVED it at the time, by the time it was available on DVD, I never needed to see it again...

There is a program of bisexual shorts, Bi Request, that I was able to see four out of the five entries in the program.

THREE SUMMERS (dir. Carlos Oliveira, Denmark, 2006, 28 mins.) Well, even though the boy is beautiful, he is still, slightly disturbingly, A BOY, who seduces one of his parents friends during an annual summer reunion, of sorts. The older man then grapples with what this means, not to mention the pressure of keeping the secret as each summer passes. If it weren't so Scandanavianly dour, I MIGHT have enjoyed this, though the boy really is a bit too young for the subject matter, I think.

RAMONA'S NEW DRESSER (dir. Bohdana Smyrnova, Ukraine, 2008, 11 mins.) Other than the fact that this was produced from the Ukraine, the tale itself is fairly pedestrian. The website's description is actually more humorous than the film itself: "This short film is about a confused relationship between a Polish and an American girl. It is made by a confused Ukrainian girl." They meet, go to her place, where her boyfriend is unexpectedly present, and the girl says she's there to buy the used dresser. Yep.

SAD BOYS DANCE WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING (dirs. Lisa Blatter, Simon Steuri, Switzerland, 2007, 17 mins.) Apparently, being bisexual leads to nothing but conflict! Here it is the guy who has to juggle his best friend and his girlfriend! Another BLEAK Scandanavian view, that I thought they had overcome. Ah well.

BLOOD AND MONKEY (dir. April Hirschman, US, 2000, 4 mins.) It is quite simply a four minute impressionistic and experimental tribute to the artist Frida Kahlo. Though it is visually arresting, I think that it might have been a bit more effective to have used, or I guess perhaps more specifically, animated some of Kahlo's work. But then you get in the discussion of one artist's representation of another artist's work, and such. However, at only four minutes, it is just long enough to pique one's curiosity without becoming annoying.

The fifth film is THE BI APPLE (dir. Audacia Ray, US, 2006, 25 mins.), and was unavailable for preview. However, it sounds like it is the lightest and most enjoyable of the bunch! It might make the program worth seeing, or at least much more appealing than CIAO, which is having an encore screening at the same period.

Maxxxxx says
re BOUND: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"
re XXY: [Maxxxxx isn't sure what sex he is either.]
re SHE'S A BOY I KNEW: "Such a pretty bird!"
re Bi Request: "Is it bedtime?"

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Frameline 32 - Day 4 and 5 Preview

Frameline 32 (aka the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival) continues in full force on Sunday, June 22 with no less than SIXTEEN programs to choose from! Of those, I had a chance to see only one feature and one of the international shorts. The weekday screenings slow down, a bit, with only eleven programs on Monday, June 23.

In The Fire is a program of "four documentaries demonstrate that the LGBT community knows no borders." I saw one of these at the Atlanta Film Festival, as part of the experimental shorts program. 24 FRAMES PER DAY (Director: Sonali Gulati - USA - 7 minutes) A door is photographed at 24 framers per day (for nine months) as a conversation between an immigrant and taxi driver plays underneath. Apparently it is pointing towards a statement about what is "home", but it remained unclear, or at least, inconclusive. Not to mention, I must have missed any reference to sexual orientation.

The only feature I was able to screen was CIAO (dir. Yen Tan, US, 2007, 87 mins.). Oh dear. Well, I can appreciate the "quiet camerawork" and director Yen Tan's near zen-like pacing and palette. It is a "serious drama", and Tan has cast the entire production in a gray fog. Even the performances are underplayed and dour. However, the script is ludicrous and completely unbelievable. At least for me. A man discovers some email between his newly deceased partner and a man from Italy, who were planning to finally consummate their internet affair. Now, WHY the widower goes ahead and invites the Italian (who had never met his partner) to visit anyway, was beyond me. Even in the dialogue, the email relationship is merely regarded as internet-flirting, so the widower does not feel betrayed. There is no basis to invite the dead boyfriend's chat buddy to stay! I just couldn't get past that point. And THEN, as if it weren't enough (spoiler here!), THEY fall in love! OH PLEASE! That was cliche' and annoying, even if the production style was incredibly deft.

MANUELA Y MANUEL will have an encore screening, and as part of the Michael Lumpkin tribute, LAW OF DESIRE (dir. Pedro Almodovar, Spain, 1987, 102 mins.) screens at the Castro! The last time I saw this was at the Castro during the "Viva Pedro" retrospective two years ago. It is one of Almodovar's sexiest films, as (a young) Antonio Banderas plays a psychotic stalker, preying upon a gay writer. It is an edgier work on everyone's part, as Almodovar blends his two favorite subjects, sex and death, with unabandoned glee! Banderas seems to be particularly in to it! Hopefully, the theatre will have a good print, and will not have to resort to a projection of a disc.

Maxxxxx says
re CIAO: "Is it bedtime?"
re LAW OF DESIRE: "Such a pretty bird!"

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Frameline 32 - Day 3 Preview

Frameline 32 (aka the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival) continues in full force on Saturday, June 21 with no less than EIGHTEEN programs to choose from! Of those, I have seen five, not including the enormously popular FUN IN BOYS SHORTS and FUN IN GIRLS SHORTS. If you are not one of the masses going to these two shorts programs in the morning, you COULD run over to the Victoria.

OUT ON THE DANCE FLOOR (dir. Anthony Palombit, US, 2008, 90 mins.) With a little Google'ing, I found that this was actually part of Anthony Palombit's doctoral thesis, and in that aspect, it is much more understandable. As a documentary feature, it seems a bit clinical, with the stories of San Francisco's Sundance Saloon thrown in there for local and entertainment diversion from the exceptionally dry documentation of a men's therapy group. A couple of the members of the men's group (including the director) do go to the Sundance Saloon, which seems to be the only link between the two subjects. The screener I saw was still a work in progress, however, the objective of the work as a whole would be much more successful if the two subjects were split into their own films and further explored. As it is, the apparent quirkiness of a two-stepping gay bar (which doesn't seem that quirky to myself, having grown up in Denver, home of Charlie's!) never attains the entertainment value it could with the inter-cutting of the men's therapy group. Additionally, the therapy group scenes never reach a satisfying conclusion since we've been distracted by the Sundance Saloon interviews. It's a project that could continue to grow, if he elected to do so. Seeing that it is a local filmmaker, I would expect that Palombit and his interview subjects will be at the screening, provided they could be dragged away from the FUN IN BOYS SHORTS program that is screening concurrently at the Castro.

EQUALITY U (dir. Dave O’Brien, US, 2008, 91 mins.) This might be an exceptionally provocative documentary about the activists on the “Soulforce Equality Ride” which sought to confront religious oriented universities that deny and renounce homosexual students. The majority of the documentary focuses on the internal dynamics of the group as they continually face arrest for civil disobedience for trespassing on university grounds. Activists do make for fascinating documentary subjects, as they have an inherent sense of drama to begin with, so this film is never dull! In fact, it is their own faith that seems to become something of a stumbling block for some of the members. I personally do have a bit of a qualm with why a gay student would WANT to attend where he/she is not wanted, especially under the cultural and religious grounds that these universities espouse. However, the "Soulforce" group's goal seems to be a quest to crack open some of the last institutional bastions of homophobia, than it is to protect the rights of the closeted students. Overall, it is a fine example of documentary of an activist group, that does not take it upon itself to be propaganda for the subject.

MOM, I DIDN'T KILL YOUR DAUGHTER (dir. Orna Ben Dor, Israel, 2007, 50 Mins.) This is one of two documentaries screening this year (along with SHE'S A BOY I KNEW) about the transgender transition that actually focuses as much on the families as with the subject undergoing transition. Here, the subject is from Israel and the FTM (female-to-male) transition she is making has more sociological impact, as the importance of the female in Jewish society makes the "loss" of the daughter to becoming a man even more of a hurdle for her mother to accept. (There are also some segments regarding the difficulty in changing their passports to indicate their sex change, too.) The mother is an exceptionally brave individual for her participation in this documentary, as she faces a continual negotiation of her daughter's sexual identity. She has been involved with another FTM for several years, thus they will be two males in love. This is as much about the mother's journey as it is about her daughter/son's. It can be quite gripping at times, unlike the next documentary I screened.

WORKING ON IT (dirs. Sabina Baumann, Karin Michalski, Germany, 2008, 50 mins.) Subtitled, "Conversations, Performances, Queer Electronics", it is the "Conversations" that nearly killed this for me. Over half the film features "talking heads" lecturing on their personal views of sexual identity in art and the workplace. It is nearly three fourths of the film before we see the group take over an abandoned supermarket to install their work, including some performances from a couple bands (who I think I should know, but do not). It is a bit too little, way too late. The forty minutes of lectures may not have seem so daunting, if not dull, had they not been in a different language, or at the very least, photographed against some sort of background, instead of the green wall that each of them are seated in front of. In fact, once the installation is set up, a viewing area is arranged where these interviews are played for an audience THERE! So, we have artists, talking about art, being art? I just don't think so. The fifty minutes felt twice as long. The screening will be preceded by a short that has just as a formidably dry subject matter: "A Complicated Queerness" explores issues of gender, power and sexism throughout the documentation of femme identities and lives within the San Francisco dyke community. It is only 17 minutes, but the two films are obviously targeted at a specific audience, that I am not a part of.

MANUELA Y MANUEL (dir. Raul Marchand Sanchez, Puerto Rico, 2007, 94 mins.) Finally! A COMEDY!! And one that DID make me LAUGH! Though I did not necessarily find it as much a "dramedy" as the FRAMELINE program describes it, I did find it filled with those farcical, yet human touches reminiscent of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES and a little bit of TORCH SONG TRILOGY. Humberto Busto (best known for his role as Gael Garcia Bernal’s best friend in AMORES PERROS) is fantastic as a drag queen, who volunteers to pose as an Iraq bound soldier marrying his best girl friend, who is pregnant from a one-night stand and must face her conservative family. He is ably supported by the performers playing the bride's parents (names escape me!), who deliver farcical gems themselves! The production design is big and colorful, and the costume design is fabulous - not only during the drag acts, but at the wedding itself, too! The music score is fun, and Busto's lip-synching is marvelous to watch. It's a delight to watch, even if you have a propensity against subtitles!

Maxxxxx says
re OUT ON THE DANCE FLOOR: "Breakfast?" (Hmmm... I guess it's too early for Maxxxxx?)
re EQUALITY U: "Cranky bird!"
re WORKING ON IT: "Is it bedtime?"

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Frameline 32 - Day 2 Preview

Frameline 32 (aka the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival) begins in full on Friday, June 20th. Unfortunately, for me, of the twelve programs screening that day, I have seen NONE of them! GASP!! I can speak to two of them, however.

As part of the celebration of Michael Lumpkin's work with Frameline, the first of the daily revival screenings begins with MALA NOCHE (dir. Gus Van Sant, US, 1985, 78 mins.). This is Gus Van Sant's first feature, which he presented in the Castro at the SF LGBT Film Festival in 1985. No, I have not seen it. However, it's reputation of being his "gayest" film precedes it. How it could be "gayer" than MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO is sort of beyond me. However, it could prove to be an exceptionally interesting screening, considering that his bio-pic of Harvey Milk just filmed in the Castro and is his next feature, due to release this fall.

The second film which I can give a blurb to is SATURN IN OPPOSITION (Saturno contro) (dir. Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy, 2007, 113 mins.). This was an exceptionally popular screening at this year's Atlanta Film Festival. There was moderate buzz coming into it, and a lot of excitement from those who saw it. Though it was overshadowed by the incredible XXY, which will screen later in this festival, SATURN IN OPPOSITION does come recommended by trusted parties here in Atlanta.

So, even though this is a slow start from my point of view, the preview for Saturday will include no less than FIVE features! In other words, MORE tomorrow...

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