Thursday, June 24, 2010

Frameline 34 (SF Intl. LGBT Film Festival) - Day 7

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

The spotlight of my Day 7 at Frameline 43 was the world premiere of
The Stranger in Us (dir. Scott Boswell, USA, 2010, 106 Mins.), which was produced here in San Francisco and screened to an over-sold out house at the Roxie.  I will admit that I walk into a lot of locally produced LGBT features with some skepticism, and I gave this film a tough road to begin with. However, through the tightness of the direction and performances, as well as the near gimmick of the non-linear editing, the film was able to win me over.  Raphael Barker (who gave quite a exhibitionistic performance in SHORTBUS) plays a new comer to San Francisco, and what unfolds is quite the tumultuous year. Barker treads a precarious line with his character, whose needy submissiveness has driven him to follow the wrong paths.  However, the objects of his affections prove to be such thoroughly crafted foils, that the weight of being The Protagonist is shared, particularly by Adam Perez, who plays a street kid he befriends and is ultimately counseled by. Scott Cox near brilliantly navigates his role as the abusive boyfriend that Barker's character has moved to San Francisco for.  The relationship that Barker and Cox create is nearly a textbook study in the dynamics of such a dysfunctional coupling. Though Scott Boswell's script will choose sides, there are moments when watching them interact that neither party is unscathed.  The choice to edit their story in a non-linear fashion helps make it digestable, as well. We are saved of the tedium of "knowing where this is going" by keeping up with the leaps in time. (Also, as a bit of a side note, the fabulous local cabaret chanteuse, Veronica Klaus has an all to rare screen appearance as a sort of a recurring muse to Barker!)  Overall, I was thoroughly engaged by the film and even stayed for a Q&A.  Scott Boswell, his three leads and producer, Cheryl Simas Valenzuela. As a group, they were remarkably soft spoken and even humble when speaking about the film. (There was one moment from Ms. Valenzuela when she invited "serious journalists" for interview opportunities, as well as her distribution pitch, that I found a bit off-putting. Her abilities as a producer are obviously solid, but the production needs a softer salesperson.)

Earlier in the day, the "classic feature" screened: Mädchen in Uniform (dir. Géza von Radványi, Germany, 1958, 95 Mins.) Lily Palmer and Romy Schneider play teacher and student at a severely disciplined girls' school in 1910. They will fall in love and melodrama ensues.  Actually, it plays out in a much more realistic fashion than that suggests, particularly for the time and place it was produced.  The film actually compares well with NOTES ON A SCANDAL, as far as lesbian melodrama is concerned. Wolfe Video will be releasing the film on DVD later this year and it is well worth checking out!

The afternoon included a program of six short subjects, with Asian-Pacific themes and/or characters.

Waiting 4 Goliath (dir. Cal Garingan, Canada , 2009 , 13 min.) Amongst all the films, feature-length and short subjects, that have dealt with masculinity in gay culture, this little short probably broaches the subject with more honesty and humor than anything I have seen.  Though the film does bring in a racial element, it does not become overwhelmed by it, and the fact that the two characters having the argument are racially divergent, that topic is merely alluded to. The performances are all excellent, as well!

The Golden Pin (dir. Cuong Ngo, Canada , 2009 , 15 min.) This short attempts an exceptionally sober attempt at exploring coming-out from a Canadian-Vietnamese perspective. Though it is beautifully photographed, I found the pacing and general lack of humor to be distancing.

Peking Turkey (dir. Michael Mew, Canada , 2006 , 12 min.) This coming-out-at-Christmas story is staged as a cross-cultural farce. It is also in three languages (English, French and Chinese). There is a certain amount of sit-com energy to the piece. However, the cast is primarily appealing and at only 12 minutes, the joke goes on just long enough.

Masala Mama (dir. Michael Kam, Singapore , 2010 , 9 min.)  The production values start off pretty rough, but the film reveals a sweet heart by the end. There is a near Bollywood joy to the finale of the film, though it is a tricky path getting there and staying with it, even at only 9 minutes long.

Little (dir. Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo, Philippines , 2009 , 30 min.) This film attempts to follow a young man's journey from birth to adulthood, as he travels from his family farm to Manila, in just 30 minutes. In other words, it either needs to be edited down to one of the sequences or expanded upon and the relationships more fully fleshed out.

[Little Love (dir. Quentin Lee, USA , 2010 , 10 min.) also screened, however I missed it.]

And via DVD screener and part of the Andy Warhol sidebar:

Beautiful Darling, the Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar (dir. James Rasin, USA, 2009, 85 Mins.)  The title is self explanatory and the film is quite thorough and engaging.  I don't really have much to say about it, other than it did shed some light for me upon the cult figure that is "Candy Darling".  It's an easy screening and I do somewhat regret not being at the Castro for what sounds like was an event:  the director, James Rasin, along with Holly Woodlawn were there to expand upon the subject for the audience.

Maxxxxx says re  THE STRANGER IN US:  "I love you, too!"

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

No comments: