Monday, June 21, 2010

Frameline 34 (SF Intl. LGBT Film Festival) - Day 4

This year’s internationally renowned showcase for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cinema runs June 17-27, with San Francisco screenings at the historic Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street), Roxie Theater (3117 16th Street) and the Victoria Theatre (2961 16th Street), and in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood (2966 College Avenue).Tickets for Frameline34 are on sale  through

We Were Here: Voices From the AIDS Years in San Francisco (dir. David Weissman, USA, 2010, 90 Mins.) [Submitted as a work in progress]  Since it is unfinished and is continuing to secure financing, there is a "review hold" on the film.  However, I can say that the testimony that David Weissman records from his five subjects is so gracefully presented that I was unprepared for the overwhelming wave of emotions that I felt as it ended.  Even in its raw state, the film led the Castro audience through a cathartic experience, featuring one of the longest standing ovations I have ever been a part of.  I needed to just wander off for a bit before attempting another screening...

Bear Nation (dir. Malcolm Ingram, USA, 2010, 87 Mins.)   Malcolm Ingram profiles the "bear community" within gay male culture. It is a remarkable documentary in that Ingram is able to objectively follow a communal stream of consciousness as the topics of "why? who? etc." are explored. The film is neither condescending nor biased. This subculture is presented, warts and all, without attempting any kind of deeper psychoanalyzing which leads to judgment. His choices of interview subjects span such a wide plethora of personalities, that the film successfully moves past the physical preoccupation of similar attempts (I would refer to Christopher Hines' work) and delves into the emotional bonds and attractions that has formed this subculture. Ingram's inclusion of "straight" society's attitudes about the concept (including a hilarious rant from Kevin Smith) gives the film some comic relief, as well as some fresh air from all of the self absorption, or dare I say, navel gazing?  I was truly, pleasantly surprised by the maturity of focus of the film and eagerly look forward to Ingram's next documentary about NYC's Continental Baths, which he spoke of during the post-screening Q&A.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (dir. Leanne Pooley, New Zealand, 2009, 84 Mins.)  I screened this on a DVD screener, and truly enjoyed it and understand their appeal. Though their music is a bit TOO "country-twangy" for me, their performance style is so fresh and inviting, that it is like spending a couple hours with those wacky aunts of yours.  The film is now available on DVD, as they were selling them at the Castro.

What I also missed out on at the actual screening is what sounds like was a mini-concert by the Topp Twins in person!  Reports are that their pre-screening appearance and follow-up Q&A were THE highlight of the evening!  The women will be in San Francisco and performing at the Swedish American Hall (next to Cafe Du Nord) during the week for a rare glimpse of this pair of New Zealand superstars! Or, well, at least they have an exceptionally LARGE following down there!

The Consul of Sodom [El Consul de Sodoma] (dir. Sigfrid Monleón, Spain, 2009, 110 Mins.) ended the day on as nearly as heavy of a note as it started. Jordi Mollá portrays the Spanish poet Gil de Biedma, in this lyrical biopic by the extremely soft spoken director, Sigfrid Monleón, who was present at the screening. The film is sensually shot and exceptionally explicit. The film follows Gil de Biedma at some point in the 1960's until his death from AIDS in 1990. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about Spain during that time to have appreciated all of the political and sexual dilemmas that Biedma faced during Franco's regime, nor his connection with the Phillipines.  In fact, I found as the film unfolded, that I needed to let go of linearity and script and just flow with the emotional, physical and sexual journey the director takes us on. I am not a poet, however, the screenplay itself appears to be a dedication to Gil de Biedma's work.

Maxxxxx says re THE TOPP TWINS: "Dooby dooby doo-ooo!"

You can contact Maxxxxx or myself here: JayCBird@AOL.COM

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