Friday, June 15, 2018

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, dir. Desirée Akhavan, 2018 USA, 91 minutes 💖
Friday, June 15, 9:30 p.m. Roxie
Thursday, June 21, 7:00 p.m. Piedmont Theatre (Oakland)
in theatres August 3, 2018

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
The year is 1993. Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, pictured right) goes to her high school’s homecoming dance with her “boyfriend,” but ends up spend­ing more quality time with the prom queen until the “boyfriend” finds them making out in the back of his car. Cameron’s guardians (she’s an orphan) send her to “God’s Promise,” a pray-away-the-gay boarding school, to cure her of her SSA (Same-Sex Attrac­tion). She wavers between earnest­ly trying to take the process seriously and running off into the woods with two of the other misfits, Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane, pictured center) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck, pictured left). Jane has a wooden leg that serves as a convenient hiding place for her stash of marijuana; Adam is a winkte, a two-spirit Native American (specifically Lakota) whose father was fine with his winkte son until the father decided to go into politics.

There is plenty of humor along the way, but it bears highlighting that when the story gets dark, it gets very dark. I won’t spoil the plot beyond that, but don’t go in expecting it to be a lighthearted comedy throughout. Moretz, Lane, and Goodluck join a fine cast, all of whom turn in stellar performances, the production values are excellent, and the story is sharp. Sadly, the issue of sending kids to gay conversion camps remains relevant in the era of Trump, much though it should have been relegated to the ash heap of the 20th century. (One random tidbit from the production: the “dancing on the table in the kitchen” scene was filmed the day after the 2016 election.) Even today, only 10 states have outlawed “conver­sion therapy” for minors. This excellent film, sadly more timely than we would ever wish, is definitely a MUST SEE.

IMDb • based on the novel by Emily Danforth (movie tie-in edition coming July 3) •

The Ice King

The Ice King, dir. James Erskine, 2018 UK, 89 min., NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE 💖
Friday, June 15, 4:00 p.m. Castro
The Ice King: skating
pioneer John Curry

I had honestly never heard of John Curry, but he more than anyone else transformed the sport of men’s figure skating from merely a boring exhibition of technical proficiency into a beautiful art form — still demanding in terms of strength and tech­nique, but adding grace, fluidity, and artistic ex­pres­­sion, not to mention choreography, that had previ­ously been found only in women’s events.

John Curry won a gold medal for the United Kingdom at the 1976 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. He was also outed when a comment he had assumed was “off the record” was published, but he refused to deny the report. He returned home and created a company to bring his artistry to audiences in London and around the world. Although he is no longer the household name he was 40 years ago, he blazed the trail for people like Johnny Weir and Adam Rippon. Even if (like me) you are only passingly interested in ice skating (On a good day, I can skate laps around the rink for an hour without falling on my ass.), John Curry’s legacy in sports, arts, and gay visibility is worth celebrating.

In James Erskine’s documentary, we see archival footage of John Curry both skating and sitting for interviews. We add to that Curry’s personal letters, background on his personal as well as his professional life, and interviews with family, friends and colleagues, plus tributes from people (including Johnny Weir) who carry his legacy into the present. Curry was a complicated character on and off the ice, but we get a sense of him as a whole person and extol his groundbreaking (or I suppose I should say “icebreaking”?) artistry. Definitely a MUST SEE.

IMDb •  official website (Dogwoof documentary distribution, with ordering information on iTunes and DVD, but important note: the DVD is coded for Europe, region 2/PAL, and will not work on most U.S. players. Hopefully the region 1/ATSC version will be out soon!) • trailer (YouTube) • Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest: @Dogwoof •

Thursday, June 14, 2018

TransMilitary


TransMilitary, dir. Fiona Dawson & Gabriel Silverman, 2018 USA, 93 minutes 💖
Thursday, June 14, 7:00 p.m. Castro (opening night) WEST COAST PREMIERE

TransMilitary: off to see the brass
The largest employer of transgender people in this country, and possibly in the world, is the U.S. military, bizarre as that may seem at first glance. The repeal of the U.S. military’s so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in 2010, ef­fec­­tive 2011-09-20, was a boon for LGB service members, but did nothing to help trans­gen­der troops. Until the ban on trans­gender military service was finally lifted in 2016, any transperson serving in the military could be bounced out, with an honorable dis­charge if they were lucky. A handful of transgender active-duty service members comple­mented their physical bravery with daunt­less personal fortitude and actively challenged the policy. In this documentary, we meet four of those individuals and follow them through meet­ings with officials all the way up to Sec­re­tary of Defense Ash Carter, to the jubilation over the end to the transgender ban, but then onward to the uncer­tainty created by our so-called President’s efforts to court his benighted base by reinstating the ban in a tweet. (So far, the courts have foiled his efforts, but the uncer­tainty remains to this day.)

Of course, anyone who even gives a cursory glance at the news knows the skeleton of the story, but meeting these individuals, seeing them deployed in places like Afghanistan, going into some private moments with them and their families, and watching them pursue the changes to policies and procedures — down to such granular issues as bathrooms, uniforms, and hairstyles — serves to humanize the issues. Even when I was in my peak physical condition, I doubt I could’ve made it through a week of basic training, and I might very well have been kicked out before lunchtime. When I see people like Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace, and First Lieutenant El Cook, these are exactly the kind of people I want out there defending our country, and I think you will agree when you see this film.

With the United States fast approaching the day when we have military enlistees who were born after the start of the Afghanistan war, our country needs to come to terms with the irrationality of discharging qualified, capable, dedicated people just because they’re trans­gender. This documentary needs to be seen widely, to underpin this important national con­versation. It’s definitely a MUST SEE.

IMDbOfficial web • Facebook: @TransMilitaryDocTwitter & Instagram: @TransMilitary #TransMilitaryDoc #OpenTransService • Palm Center (studies policy issues about LGBT members of the US armed services) •

Would You Look at Her (shorts program)

Would You Look at Her” (shorts program)
Saturday, June 23, 4:00 p.m. Roxie
  1. Would You Look at Her (short film) (Види Ја Ти Неа) (Vidi Ya Ti Nea), dir. Goran Stolevski (Горан Столевски), 2017 Macedonia, 19 minutes, in Macedonian with English subtitles, WEST COAST PREMIERE 👏
  2. Devi / Goddess (देवी) (দেবী), dir. Karishma Dube, 2017 India, 13 minutes, in English, Bengali, and Hindi with English subtitles, BAY AREA PREMIERE 👏
  3. Tooth and Nail, dir. Sara Shaw, 2017 USA, 20 minutes 👏
  4. Concern for Welfare, dir. Fadia Abboud, 2018 Australia, 12 minutes, in English and Levantine Arabic with subtitles, NORTH AMERICA PREMIERE ❓
  5. The Inherent Traits of Connor James, dir. Ally Pankiw, 2017 Canada, 14 minutes, U.S. PREMIERE 👏

Worldly Affairs (2018 shorts program)

Worldly Affairs” (2018 shorts program)
Friday, June 22, 4:00 p.m. Castro
  1. Top 10 Lugares em São Paulo (Top 10 Places to Visit in São Paulo), dir. Akira Kamiki, 2018 Brazil, 14 minutes, in Brazilian Portuguese and Argentinian Spanish with English subtitles, plus English without subtitles, WEST COAST PREMIERE 👏
  2. Set Me As a Seal upon Thine Heart (Simani k’hotam al libha) ‏(שִׂימֵנִי כַחֹותָם עַל־לִבֶּךָ)‏
    ‏(שימני כחותם על לבך)‏
    , dir. Omer Tobi (עומר טוב), 2018 Israel, 10 minutes, in Hebrew with English subtitles, BAY AREA PREMIERE 👍
  3. Pre-Drink, dir. Marc-Antoine Lemire, 2017 Canada, 23 minutes, in French with English subtitles and in English with English subtitles (100% subtitled), WEST COAST PREMIERE 💖
  4. Just Past Noon on a Tuesday, dir. Travis Mathews, 2018 Brazil/USA, 22 minutes, in Portuguese with English subtitles, WEST COAST PREMIERE 👎🏼

Homegrown (2018 shorts program)

Homegrown” (2018 shorts program)
Thursday, June 21, 9:15 p.m. Victoria
  1. Dyke Bars Never Last, dir. Stacy McKenzie, 2018 USA, 6 minutes 👏 (also screened as part of the “Fun in Girls Shorts” program)
  2. Dropping Penny, dir. Jed Bell, 2017 USA, 8 minutes 👍 (also screened as part of the “Transtastic” shorts program)
  3. Fig Tree, dir. Ana Quintanilla, 2018 USA, 5 minutes 👎🏼😕
  4. Don’t Judge Me, It’s Rude, dir. Taylor Whitehouse, 2018 USA, 5 minutes 👎🏼🤮
  5. I Live Here, dir. Shane Watson, 2017 USA, 18 minutes 👏
  6. The PrEP Project, dir. Chris Tipton-King & Robyn Kopp, 2017 USA, 19 min. 💖
  7. A Great Ride, dir. Deborah Craig & Veronica Deliz, 2018 USA, 28 minutes ❓

Up Close & Personal (2018 shorts program)

Up Close & Personal” (2018 shorts program)
Friday, June 22, 1:30 p.m. Castro

  1. Note to Self, dir. Alex Bohs, 2017 USA, 2 minutes
  2. What Do You See, dir. Michael Bonner, 2017 Australia, 6 minutes
  3. 98 Years* and Counting: More Women Leaders Needed Everywhere, dir. Kirthi Nath, 2018 USA, 3 minutes
  4. My Own Wings, dir. Katia Repina, 2016 Spain/USA, 9 minutes, in English, Spanish, French and Ukrainian with English subtitles throughout
  5. The Things that Make Us, dir. Fox Fisher, 2017 UK, 3 minutes
  6. Many Loves, One Heart, dir. Sarah Feinbloom, 2017 USA/Jamaica, 19 minutes (also screened in the “Realness & Revelations” shorts program)
  7. Angela Wilson: A Butcher’s Story, dir. Gaby Scott, 2018 USA, 7 minutes
  8. Picture This, dir. Jari Osborne, 2017 Canada, 33 minutes

We the Animals

We the Animals, dir. Jeremiah Zagar, 2018 USA, 94 minutes 💖
Friday, June 22, 6:30 p.m. Victoria

We the Animals
Synopsis: Based on the novel by Justin Torres. Jonah (Evan Rosado, pictured), just turned 10, lives in upstate New York with his mom, dad (Raúl Castillo, pictured), and two older brothers. The boys roam around town and the woods around their house, occasionally getting into mis­chief. Jonah also has a secret notebook in which he sketches an imaginative fantasy world in pen and colored pencil. His parents’ arguments turn violent, casting baleful shadows on what initially seemed a halcyon childhood. He connects with the neighbor’s grandson, a 14-year-old boy who seems to share with Jonah a lack of affinity for the macho, heteronormative world around them, particularly embodied by Jonah’s father.

Review: We the Animals is a rare gem of a coming-of-age drama, captivating from begin­ning to end. Although told from the perspective of the 10-year-old protagonist, it explores themes well beyond that age. It is sympathetic but not sentimental, presenting Jonah’s life much as he sees it himself. Beautiful performances and cinematography, with an evocative but not intrusive sound track, definitely a MUST SEE.

IMDb • in theatres August 10, 2018!

They

They, dir. Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, 2017 USA/Qatar, 80 minutes, in English and Farsi with English subtitles 💖
Thursday, June 21, 7:00 p.m. Roxie

Rhys Fehrenbacher as J. in They
J (Rhys Fehrenbacher) is a 14-year-old living near Chicago. They have been taking hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty, in order to give them more time to clarify their gender identity, but their doctor is concerned about some of their test results, leading him to advocate reaching a decision soon about the next steps in J’s medical journey. Meanwhile, J’s parents are out of town for a long weekend, so J’s sister Lauren and her boyfriend Araz come to look after them, and they all go to a party with Araz’s family.

The focus in this film is less on the medical and psychological drama around a teenager trying to disentangle their gender identity and more on the simple human drama of a teenager reconnecting with an older sibling they haven’t seen in quite a while and catching up on their life, with the gender question present but not at the forefront. We watch a weekend in which gender is just one element. All the actors, but especially Fehrenbacher, provide deft, nuanced performances in this slice-of-life story.

The only complaint I would register is that much of the dialogue is so softly spoken as to be difficult to make out. I literally turned my TV louder than it has ever been before and still missed what I hope were not crucial bits of the text. With that small caveat, MUST SEE.

IMDbOfficial websitetrailer (YouTube) • Wikipedia

The Last Goldfish

The Last Goldfish, dir. Su Goldfish, 2017 Australia, 81 minutes 👏
Wednesday, June 20, 9:15 p.m. Victoria
WEST COAST PREMIERE

baby Su Goldfish & parents
Su Goldfish was born in Trinidad, but her family fled the racial unrest there when she was 13, emigrating to Australia. Shortly after, she began trying to piece together the story of her family, leading her to a series of unfore­seen discoveries: her father was a German Jew, original­ly named Goldfisch, who narrowly escaped in 1938, one of only about 600 Jews who were let into Trinidad — the British closed the border 12 days later. He escaped with his first wife, with whom he had two children, half-siblings Su had never known existed, but then neither did she know her father was Jewish. Over the course of more than 30 years, she makes contact with her brother and sister and several other relatives, and learns much more about her family, their roots in Germany, details of the fate of her relatives, and the lives the survivors built in France, Canada, and the United States.

It’s an intensely personal journey, rooted in her family tree and her own experience as an immigrant, but it spans a wide swath of history across four continents, giving the story a much broader appeal than just “Come look at my family photo album.” The immense life-and-death dramas that weave through the story are uncovered gradually, leaving space for the audience to contemplate such things as the barbarity of Nazi Germany, while also finding hope in the ongoing commitment of present-day Germans to remember those who were so callously put to death. The pace at times feels leisurely, but there’s a lot of material, and connections between the specific and the general. The issue of homosexuality comes up briefly a couple of times, primarily in the context of Su’s parents’ disapproval; most of the story is about the Goldfisch family’s place in the diaspora. Highly recommended.

IMDbofficial websiteother official website • Facebook: @TheLastGoldfishFilmtrailer

Transtastic (2018 shorts program)

Transtastic” shorts program, 2018 edition
Monday, June 18, 7:00 p.m. Roxie

  1. Last Night’s Sugar, dir. Shawna Virago, 2017 USA, 5 minutes 👍
  2. Fabled: episode 1, “D as in Delta,” dir. Jennifer Morrison, 2018 USA, 14 min. 👎🏼😕
  3. Dropping Penny, dir. Jed Bell, 2017 USA, 8 minutes 👍
  4. Self-Made Men, episode “Showbiz,” dir. Amy Goldstein, 2018 USA, 11 minutes 👏
  5. Southern for Pussy, dir. Zackary Drucker, 2018 USA, 5 minutes 👏
  6. The T, dir. Deven Casey, 2017 USA, 14 minutes 👏
  7. We Forgot to Break Up, dir. Chandler Levack, 2017 Canada, 16 minutes 👏
  8. Happy Birthday, Marsha!, dir. Reina Gossett & Sasha Wortzel, 2017 USA, 14 minutes 💖 (also in the “Realness & Revelations” (2018) shorts program)

Skate Kitchen

Skate Kitchen, dir. Crystal Moselle, 2018 USA, 106 minutes 💖
Monday, June 18, 9:15 p.m. Roxie
Tuesday, June 19, 9:30 p.m. Elmwood (Berkeley)

Skate Kitchen
Camille (Rachelle Vinberg, pictured far left) lives on Long Island, where she skateboards for her Instagram. After a fight with her mother, who wants her to stop skating, Camille flees into New York City and hooks up with an all-girl skate crew. Various threads of drama ensue, includ­ing with a skater played by Jaden Smith.

This movie has two layers to it. On the surface is a story about a girl who skates, with plenty of footage of her and others doing just that. That alone would be worth the price of admis­sion if you like skateboards at all. Deeper down, though, are some amazing moments of authentic emotional vulnerability; in particular, the scenes I will shorthand as “speaking your heart’s truth,” “the great parting of ways,” and ”will they or won’t they?” are master­fully done. Definitely a MUST SEE.

Theatrical release in August 2018!

IMDb • Instagram: @TheSkateKitchen

Coming Up Queer 2018

Coming Up Queer” (shorts program 2018)
Sunday, June 17, 1:45 p.m. Victoria
FREE ADMISSION, recommended for ages 12 and up

  1. Darío, dir. Manuel Kinzer & Jorge A. Trujillo Gil, 2018 Germany/Colombia, 15 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles 💖
  2. Dani Boi, dir. Logan Mucha, 2018 Australia, 6 minutes 💖
  3. Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls, dir. Julianna Notten, 2017 Canada, 15 minutes 👍
  4. The Toothmans, dir. Hansen Bursic, 2017 USA, 8 minutes 💖
  5. Sweet and Sour, dir. Ann Sun, 2017 USA, 6 minutes 💖
  6. Mrs. McCutcheon, dir. John Sheedy, 2017 Australia, 17 minutes. 👏

High Fantasy

High Fantasy, dir. Jenna Cato, 2017 South Africa, 71 minutes
Sunday, June 17, 9:15 p.m. Roxie

High Fantasy
Four friends — a white woman, Lexi; a black woman, Xoli; a coloured woman Tatiana; and a black man, Thami (sounds like Tommy) — go for a camping trip in Northern Cape pro­vince, South Africa. They wake up in their tent, having mys­ter­i­ously traded bodies. The story centers not on how or why they switched, but on how they react to being in a body of a different race and/or gender. Of course, the initial reaction is to freak out, but after that, what does it mean to be a man or a woman, or to be white, black, or coloured?

It touches on the history of white colonization and oppression of black Africans, but also male dominance in society. Most of the film is cellphone videos taken by the actors themselves, interspersed with interview footage taken after they got home in their own original bodies. It’s an interesting peek into the complex social dynamics of 21st century South Africa specifically, but more broadly sex and race as dividing lines among humans, but it felt like it barely scratched the surface. Recommended.

IMDbofficial website

L’animale

L’animale, dir. Katharina Mückstein, 2018 Austria, 97 minutes, in German with English subtitles 👏
Sunday, June 17, 4:00 p.m. Victoria

Mati and her motorbike
First off, the film is in Austria, with the dialogue in German, but the title comes from an Italian song that wraps up the ending of the film. Mati is about to finish high school, planning to go to university in Vienna. In the mean time, she hangs out with her motorbike buddies, including her best friend since childhood, Sebi, riding around in what appears to be a disused quarry. She also helps her mother, the town’s veterinarian, by way of which she meets Carla and Carla’s ailing cat. She finds herself wanting to spend more time with Carla, but not interested when Sebi says that he wants more than friendship. Meanwhile, Mati’s father is coming to terms with some issues of his own. Mati is torn in many directions, not sure she’s interested in following in her mother’s career, cherishing the bond she has with her friends, just wanting to be done with school, and exploring newfound feelings with Carla.

The setting for the film, in rural Austria as spring fades into summer, yields beautiful scenery, and I actually rather like watching motorbikes (although I’ve never ridden one, certainly not off-road). The tensions pulling at the characters — chiefly Mati and her father, but also others — play out in their own rhythm, avoiding facile resolutions so that we simply observe a coming-of-age in process. Unfortunately, although the subtitles are in white with a hairline black outline, they still don’t show up very well against light backgrounds, and there were a few scenes that struggled to hold my interest, but on the whole it’s worth the effort. Highly recommended.

IMDbofficial website (in English or German) • Facebook @LAnimaleFilm

Room for a Man

Room for a Man, dir. Anthony Chidiac, 2017 Lebanon/USA, in French, Levantine Arabic, and Argentinian Spanish, with English subtitles. 👎🏼😴🙄
Sunday, June 17, 7:00 p.m. Roxie

34 minutes into a 77-minute film is a
40-second scene where we see a
random guy’s abs, and for half of it he
has his shirt back on. Bait and switch!!
Are you looking for a lousy way to kill a couple of hours of your Sunday evening? Are you a fan of pointlessly self-indulgent navel-gazing documentaries? Then have I got the film for you! Filmmaker Anthony Chidiac turns the camera on the dog, the bird building a nest in the window, the Syrian tradesmen working in his mother’s apartment, and several of his relatives. He begins with the family tree, which seemed like a promising start: his family was quite important in early to mid-20th century Lebanon, plus he has family in Argentina. His family is Christian, like about a third of Lebanon. But that all moves to the background in favor of his mother being annoyed at the dog, his mother making kissy faces with the dog, and the Syrian refugees waxing philo­sophical, plus a couple of scenes of his mother and his uncle condemning homosexuality.

If you’re looking for the guy pulling his shirt up to show off his abs in the picture in the Frameline program, that’s at about 34 minutes into the show, it lasts about 40 seconds, and that is the only shot of anyone shirtless in the entire 77 minutes. One of the Syrians asks the filmmaker why he wants to make films, and his lack of a concrete answer is telling. NOT RECOMMENDED. Not offensive or violent or anything like that, just boring as all hell.

Incidentally, note that the interview clips often switch languages, sometimes more than once in a single sentence, so unless you’re fluent in all three, you will need the subtitles.

Call Her Ganda

Call Her Ganda, dir. P. J. Raval, 2018 USA/Philippines, 93 minutes, in English and Tagalog with English subtitles 👏

Call Her Ganda: Jennifer Laude
On October 11, 2014, in the Philippine city of Olóngapo [o-LO-nga-po], PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, USMC, age 19, on shore leave from Subic Bay, drowned a Filipina transwoman, Jennifer Laude, whom he had hired as a prostitute, in the toilet of the motel room where they had their tryst. Thanks to a controversial 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement, although the incident took place off the base in Filipino jurisdiction, Pemberton has the right to have the case transferred to US military court if the local court did not complete its proceedings within one year. Although Pemberton was charged with murder, he was convicted of homicide, a lesser charge with a sentence of 6 to 10 years in prison, based in part on his “gay panic” defense.

This documentary tells the story of the murder and trial, along with the reaction from the transgender community, but fleshes it out with an intimate portrait of who Jennifer Laude was. Her friends called her Jennifer, but her mother called her Ganda, “beautiful” in Tagalog. We see Jennifer/Ganda in personal videos as well as still photos and interviews with family, friends, and activists. It’s a powerful chronicle of a story at the nexus of transgender rights and neo-colonialism. There were a couple of stretches where my attention lagged, but on the whole it’s very well done and definitely worth seeing. Highly recommended.

IMDbofficial website • Twitter: @CallHerGanda #Justice4Jennifer • Facebook: @CallHerGanda • Instagram: @CallHerGanda

Lez Bomb

Lez Bomb, dir. Jenna Laurenzo, 2017 USA, 90 minutes 👏
Saturday, June 16, 6:45 p.m. Victoria

Lez Bomb
Great cast, including luminaries Cloris Leachman and Bruce Dern. Lauren (filmmaker Jenna Laurenzo, center) is having Thanksgiving with her family and planning to introduce her girlfriend Hailey (Caitlin Mehner, left), but her crazy family drama gets in the way, compounded by the arrival of her roommate Austin, who everyone assumes is her boyfriend. One mishap after another leads to moments of drama and vulnerability, but also high comedic farce. I didn’t buy into all of the characters 100%, but the ending was the payoff for squirming through to the finale. Highly recommended.

IMDbofficial website • Facebook: @LezBombMovie

Kiss Me! (Embrasse-moi!)

Kiss Me (Embrasse-moi), dir. Océanerosemarie & Cyprien Vial, 2017 France, 86 minutes, in French and Italian with English subtitles 👍
Saturday, June 16, 4:00 p.m. Victoria

Embrasse-moi! (Kiss Me!)
Filmmaker/screenwriter Océanerosemarie (in the bright red, foreground in the photo) stars as what I certainly hope is a highly fictionalized version of herself in this screwball comedy. After a series of intense but fleeting relationships, she meets Cécile (in the black t-shirt), a professional photographer who she decides is “the one.” Now all she has to do is convince her myriad exes who are working with Océane’s mother to sabotage her fledgling relationship with Cécile. Oh, and she has to convince Cécile, on which mission she begins with borderline stalking.

It was not as funny as I hoped, mainly because I felt that many of the wackier scenes fell flat, especially with Fantine, a recent ex who seems to be trying to win Océane back — although I don’t know what either sees in the other. It’s cute and has some genuinely funny moments, so I’ll give it a tepid Recommended.

IMDbAllociné

Fun in Girls Shorts (2018 shorts program)

Fun in Girls Shorts” (2018 shorts program)
Saturday, June 16, 1:30 p.m. Castro
Saturday, June 23, 12:00 noon Piedmont Theatre (Oakland)
Sunday, June 24, 11:00 a.m. Castro

  1. Grace and Betty, dir. Zoe Lubeck, 2016 USA, 12 minutes 👍
  2. Pop Rox, dir. Nate Trinrud, 2017 USA, 12 minutes 👍
  3. Dick Sisters, dir. Lauren Garroni, 2018 USA, 2 minutes 👏
  4. Lesbehonest: episode 1, “I’ll Be All Right,” dir. Jana Heaton, 2017 USA, 19 minutes 👏
  5. Children Alike (Lika Barn), dir. Julia Boström, 2017 Sweden, 5 minutes, in Swedish with English subtitles 💖
  6. Ice Cold, dir. Sekiya Dorsett, 2017 USA, 13 minutes 💖
  7. Dyke Bars Never Last, dir. Stacy McKenzie, 2018 USA, 6 minutes 👏

Fun in Boys Shorts 2018

Fun in Boys Shorts” (2018 shorts program)
Saturday, June 16, 11:00 a.m. Castro
Sunday, June 24, 1:30 p.m. Castro
  1. Matt & Dan: “Sex Notes,” dir. Will Gordh, 2018 USA, 5 minutes 👏
  2. Femme, dir. Alden Peters, 2017 USA, 18 minutes 👍
  3. Don’t Fuck with England, dir. Rocket Ear, 2018 USA, 3 minutes 👌
  4. Bad Friend, dir. Stephen Winter, 2018 USA, 5 minutes 👌
  5. The Fix, dir. Edward Jack, 2017 USA, 11 minutes 👍
  6. Routine, dir. Wes Akwuobi, 2017 USA, 6 minutes 👌
  7. Manivald, dir. Chintis Lundgren, 2017 Canada/Croatia/Estonia, 13 minutes, in English with French subtitles 😐
  8. High Rocks, dir. Tyler Wallach, 2017 USA 12 minutes 👏

Realness & Revelations (2018 shorts program)

Realness & Revelations” (2018 shorts program)
Friday, June 15, 7:00pm, Roxie
Wednesday, June 20, 7:00pm, Elmwood (Berkeley)

  1. Many Loves, One Heart, dir. Sarah Feinbloom, 2017 USA/Jamaica, 19 minutes, also screens as part of “Up Close & Personal,” Fri. 6/22, 1:30pm Castro 👏
  2. Darío, dir. Manuel Kinzer & Jorge A. Trujillo Gil, 2018 Germany/Colombia, 15 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles, also screens as part of “Coming Up Queer,” Sun. 6/17 1:45pm Victoria WORLD PREMIERE 💖
  3. Two Men (两个人), dir. Yuanhao Zhao, 2017 China, 9 minutes, no dialogue 👏
  4. Happy Birthday, Marsha!, dir. Reina Gossett & Sasha Wortzel, 2017 USA, 14 minutes, also screens as part of “Transtastic,” Mon. 6/18 7:00pm Roxie 💖
  5. The Things You Think I’m Thinking, dir. Sherren Lee, 2017 USA, 15 minutes 👏
  6. Masks, dir. Mahaliya Ayla O, 2018 USA, 22 minutes, in English and in Farsi with English subtitles 👏

Dare (shorts program 2018)

Dare” (shorts program)
Friday, June 15, 1:30pm Castro

Men Don’t Whisper, dir. Jordan Firstman, 2017 USA, 22 minutes 👏
Kissing Walls, episodes 1 & 2, dir. Zak Payne, 2017 USA, 14 minutes ❓
Share, dir. Ellie Wen & Barbara Szász, 2018 USA, 14 minutes 👏
You Look Good in Blue, dir. Harrison Sheehan, 2018 USA, 15 minutes 👎🏼😴
The Dare Project, dir. Adam Salky, 2005/2018 USA, 22 minutes 💖

update: review added for The Dare Project

A Moment in the Reeds (Tämä Hetki Kaislikossa)

A Moment in the Reeds (Tämä Hetki Kaislikossa), dir. Mikko Makela, 2017 Finland/UK, 108 minutes, in Finnish with English subtitles and English without subtitles. 👍
Thursday, June 14, 10:00pm, Castro
Wednesday, June 20, 6:30pm, Victoria

Leevi (Janne Puustinen) and Tareq (Boodi Kabbani)
in A Moment in the Reeds (Tämä Hetki Kaislikossa)
Leevi is studying literature in Paris, writing a thesis comparing the French poet Rimbaud and the Finnish poet Kaarlo Sarkia. He returns to Finland on summer holiday and gets roped into helping his father renovate their lakeside summer cottage. His father has also hired a handyman, Tareq, a Syrian refugee who speaks no Finnish, to help. The father is called away for something work-related, leaving Leevi and Tareq a chance to get better acquainted, leading inevitably to lots of sex in between conversations about their respective family situations and the like. Much of the dialogue is based on the actors’ own improvisation.

The film provides a critique of Finland through the eyes of a native son who wants to leave and an immigrant who seeks refuge there, hoping to build a future for himself. Unfortunately, I found the sex scenes much less engrossing than I expected, and I felt much less connected to the conversations than I would have liked. None of the characters — especially the father but also the other two — ever felt fully three-dimensional. It’s still worth seeing, but I was a bit disappointed from the description in the Frameline program. Recommended.

Note to hearing-impaired audiences: most of the dialogue is in English without subtitles.

IMDb pageOfficial website • Facebook: @AMomentInTheReeds

Frameline 42, here we come!

The 42nd annual Frameline LGBTQ Film Festival starts TONIGHT in San Francisco with Transmilitary, a documentary about transgender people serving in the United States armed forces and dealing with the uncertainty created by our purported President.

However, again this year I got a head start! I will be posting advance reviews of the films I’ve seen (starting with tonight’s second film, A Moment in the Reeds), plus reviewing the ones I see in the theaters over the next week and a half.

Of course, my festival also started early in person, with the amazing QWOCFF (Queer Women of Color Film Festival, put on by QWOCMAP, the QWOC Media Arts Project) this past weekend, with 20 short films, all of which were good and several of which were truly exceptional.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

QWOCFF 2018 Closing Night: Indigenous Futures


QWOCFF 2018 Closing Night: Indigenous Futures

The evening began with a Native American drum ceremony by the folks at BAAITS, Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits, followed by 7 short films.

Friday, June 08, 2018

QWOCFF 2018: opening night, Fierce & Feral

The Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP) held its 14th annual film festival June 8, 9, and 10. Here are capsule reviews of the films. Note: as part of its commitment to inclusivity, QWOCMAP open captions all films in the festival.

Opening Night, Friday, June 8, 2018: Fierce & Feral


Monday, June 26, 2017

Frameline 41: reviewed so far (running tally)

This is an alphabetical list of the feature-length films and shorts programs I’ve reviewed so far in Frameline 41, updated periodically during the festival. Updated 2017-07-08 21:45

After Louie

After Louie, dir. Vincent Gagliostro, 2017 USA, 100 min. 👏
Sunday, June 25, 7:00 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première
Closing night film
After Louie: Alan Cumming as Sam

Rebels on Pointe

Rebels on Pointe, dir. Bobbi Jo Hart, 2016 Canada, 90 min. 💖
Friday, June 23, 6:30 p.m., Victoria Theatre: Bay Area première
Rebels on Pointe: Les Ballets
Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Frameline 41 premieres by category

Here is a list of films that premiered at Frameline 41, sorted by category and title
🌍 Worldly première
🍭 North American première
🇺🇸 U.S. première
🌊 West Coast première
🌁 San Francisco Bay Area première

Worldly Affairs (2017)

Worldly Affairs (shorts program)
Friday, June 23, 4:00 p.m., Castro Theatre

Up Close & Personal (2017) (shorts program)

Up Close & Personal (shorts program)
Friday, June 23, 1:30 p.m., Castro Theatre

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Beach Rats

Beach Rats, dir. Eliza Hittman, 2017 USA, 95 min. 👍
Thursday, June 22, 7:00 p.m., Roxie Theatre

Beach Rats

Jours de France (4 Days in France)

Jours de France (4 Days in France), dir. Jérôme Reybaud, 2016 France, 141 min., in French with English subtitles 👎💤😞
Monday, June 19, 9:15 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première
Thursday, June 22, 12:00 p.m., Castro Theatre

Abu (Father)

Abu (Father), dir. Arshad Khan, 2017 Canada, 95 min., in English and Urdu with English subtitles 💖
Thursday, June 22, 3:30 p.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première
Abu (Father)

Hello Again

Hello Again, dir. Tom Gustafson, 2017 USA, 105 min. 👌
Thursday, June 22, 9:30 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première

Hello Again

Friday, June 23, 2017

Alaska is a Drag (feature film)

Alaska is a Drag, dir. Shaz Bennett, 2017 USA, 83 min. 👎
Friday, June 23, 9:15 p.m., Castro Theatre: WORLD PREMIÈRE
Saturday, June 24, 9:15 p.m., Piedmont Theatre, Oakland

Alaska is a Drag
There are people who like movies about drag queens. There are people who like movies about bare-knuckle brawling. If there is an intersection between those two groups, it does not include me. I enjoyed the short film from which this feature film grew, but the fight scenes in the longer version were far too graphic for me, so much so that I walked out more than an hour into the film. I couldn’t stomach the fight scene, even with probably less than 15 minutes left in the film, even to find out what happens to the protagonist. This film unequivocally takes the prize for biggest disappointment of Frameline 41. Definitely, definitely NOT RECOM­MENDED.
Warning: this film contains a graphic depiction of a gang fag-bashing the main character.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Die Mitte der Welt (Center of My World)

Die Mitte der Welt (Center of My World), dir. Jakob M. Erwa, 2016 Germany, 115 min., in German with English subtitles 💖
Wednesday, June 21, 9:15 p.m., Castro Theatre
Die Mitte der Welt (Center of My World): Kat, Nicholas, Phil

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Patay Na Si Hesus (Jesus is Dead)

Patay Na Si Hesus (Jesus is Dead), dir. Victor Villanueva, 2016 Philippines, 90 min., in Tagalog with English subtitles 👌
Monday, June 19, 9:15 p.m., Roxie Theatre: North American première
Patay Na Si Hesus (Jesus is Dead): Iyay, Jay, Jude

100 Men

100 Men, dir. Paul Oremland, 2016 New Zealand, 95 min. 👏
Wednesday, June 21, 1:15 p.m., Castro Theatre: U.S. première

100 Men

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer, dir. Marc Meyers, 2017 USA, 107 min. 👏
Tuesday, June 20, 9:15 p.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première
Ross Lynch (center) is My Friend Dahmer

Sueño en otro idioma / I Dream in Another Language

Sueño en otro idioma / I Dream in Another Language, dir. Ernesto Contreras, 2017 Mexico / Netherlands, 101 min., in Spanish with English subtitles 💖
Tuesday, June 20, 6:30 p.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première

Sueño en otro idioma / I Dream in Another Language

Chavela

Chavela, dirs. Catherine Gund & Daresha Kyi, 2017 USA, 90 min., in Spanish with English subtitles and in English without subtitles 👏
Monday, June 19, 6:30 p.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première
Thursday, June 22, 7:00 p.m., Piedmont Theatre, Oakland
Chavela

More than T

More than T, dir. Silas Howard, 2017 USA, 54 min.👏
Sunday, June 18, 4:00 p.m., Victoria Theatre: WORLD PREMIÈRE
More than T

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Discreet

Discreet, dir. Travis Mathews, 2017 USA, 80 min. 💩👎
Monday, June 19, 9:15 p.m., Victoria Theatre
Discreet

Screwed (Pihalla)

Screwed, dir. Nils-Erik Ekblom, 2017 Finland, 100 min., in Finnish with English subtitles 💖
Monday, June 19, 6:30 p.m., Victoria Theatre: WORLD PREMIÈRE
Screwed (Pihalla)

Prom King, 2010

Prom King, 2010, dir. Christopher Schaap, 2017 USA, 102 min. 💖
Monday, June 19, 1:30 p.m., Castro Theatre

Prom King, 2010

Girl Unbound

Girl Unbound (a.k.a. Girl Unbound: the War to be Her), dir. Erin Heidenreich, 2016 Pakistan / Canada / USA, 80 min., in English and in Urdu and Pashto with English subtitles 💖
Sunday, June 18, 1:30 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première
Girl Unbound

The Wound (Inxeba)

The Wound (Inxeba), dir. John Trengove, 2017 South Africa, 88 min., in Xhosa with English subtitles 👏
Sunday, June 18, 7:00 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première

The Wound (Inxeba)

FL41: “TBA” screenings announced

Frameline 41 has named the titles for the two “to be announced” slots in the schedule:

TBA1: Saturday, June 24, 11:30 a.m., Roxie Theatre, “Woke Women Mixtape

TBA2: Saturday, June 24, 9:15 p.m., Victoria Theatre, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nobody’s Watching / Nadie nos mira

Nobody’s Watching / Nadie nos mira, dir. Julia Solomonoff, 2017 Argentina, 102 min., in Spanish with English subtitles and English without subtitles 💤
Saturday, June 17, 9:30 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première
Saturday, June 24, 1:30 p.m., Victoria Theatre
Nobody’s Watching / Nadie nos mira

God’s Own Country

God’s Own Country, dir. Francis Lee, 2017 UK, 104 min. 😐
Saturday, June 17, 6:30 p.m., Castro Theatre

God’s Own Country

Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall

Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall, dir. Katherine Fairfax Wright, 2017 USA, 100 min. 💖👑
Saturday, June 17, 3:45 p.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première
Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Archer

The Archer, dir. Valerie Weiss, 2017 USA, 86 min. 💖😱
Friday, June 16, 6:30 p.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première
Friday, June 23, 9:30 p.m., Piedmont Theatre, Oakland

The Archer

Saturday Church

Saturday Church, dir. Damon Cardasis, 2017 USA, 81 min. 💖💅👠
Friday, June 16, 9:15 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première
Saturday Church

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Transtastic (2017)

Transtastic” (shorts program)
Monday, June 19, 7:00 p.m., Roxie Theatre
update: all component short films reviewed

Second chances: shorts that run twice in Frameline 41

The Frameline 41 LGBTQ film festival has a dozen programs of short films, plus a half dozen more programs in the new category of “Episodics,” serial dramas and documentary series, mostly web-based, presenting a whole season worth of episodes at a time in most of these screenings. It is not always possible to pigeonhole a short film into just one category, so several of them appear in two of the shorts programs. Here is your guide to the short films you have two chances to see:
Britney-holics Anonymous:
a Spear-itual Awakening
Fun in Boys Shorts
Bi Candy
Brown GirlsBrown Girls (all 7 episodes)
Fun in Girls Shorts (episode 4 only)
EncuentroHomegrown
Realness & Revelations
Étage XThe Devil is in the Details
Fun in Girls Shorts
More Love, Less
Prepackaged Bullshit
Realness & Revelations
Bi Candy
MuxesTranstastic
Up Close & Personal
Al otro lado /
The Other Side
Realness & Revelations
Worldly Affairs
UmbrellaTranstastic
Up Close & Personal
Walk for MeRealness & Revelations
Transtastic

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Brown Girls (episodes 1 through 7)

Brown Girls, dir. Sam Bailey, 2017 USA, 7 episodes, total runtime 72 minutes 💖
part of Frameline’s new Episodics category
Sunday, June 18, 9:30 p.m., Elmwood Theatre in Berkeley
Tuesday, June 20, 7:00 p.m. Roxie Theatre

Brown Girls
So far, I’ve only seen Episode 4, which is in the “Fun in Girls Shorts” program this year, but on the strength of that snippet I have no hesitation in giving the whole series a MUST SEE. Okay, if you absolutely can’t make it to either festival screening, you can watch the whole series on vimeo, but this series should be especially fun to share with a full house. I’m schlepping to the East Bay for the screening on Sunday.

watch on vimeo

Here we go!

The Frameline 41 International LGBTQ Film Festival — the oldest, the biggest, and the best queer film festival — begins in less than 24 hours… I’m about to notch two dozen advance reviews, with more to come, tonight, tomorrow, and as I have spare time during the week. I changed the dates on the first few reviews so that they will all be grouped together under “June 2017,” but you can also look for the #Frameline41 tag. I have tags for various categories like shorts program, documentary, Must See, and World Premiere, among others. This year, my ratings are on an Emoji scale, with sparkle heart 💖at the top, followed by clapping 👏 hands, thumbs 👍 up, neutral 😐 face, thumbs 👎 down, and (hopefully remaining unused!) 💣💤💩😵 or other expressions of revulsion. So far this year, “must see” is easily outnumbering “not recommended,” which bodes well for the rest of the festival.

I expect to attend about 25 to 30 screenings in the festival proper, and have hopefully about the same number of reviews from “screeners” by the time all is said and done. I will also be Tweeting (@FilmQueenReview — notice that there’s no S at the end). Leave comments here on the blog, on Twitter, Facebook and/or Messenger.

Film Queen Facebook Events

I have created Facebook Events for two of the screenings I am most excited about:
  • Brown Girls on Sunday, June 18 at 9:30 p.m. at the Elmwood Theatre in Berkeley. This is a wonderful web series — yes, you can watch it online for free any time — that I am really looking forward to seeing with an audience. It is the “brown girls” themselves making the story of people like them, and doing it with impressive production values to boot.
  • Freak Show on Saturday, June 24 at 9:30 p.m. at the Castro Theatre. A fabulous teenage boy (played by the actor who was the boarding-school Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, the movie about deciphering the Nazi code machine) is forced to move to a small town in the Deep South and attend a deeply conservative high school. His reaction to the bullying is to run for Prom Queen. If you think “freak” is at least sometimes a very good word, you should see this film. Oh, and did I mention that his mother is played by Bette Midler? You will get out of this screening probably a little after 11:00, leaving you plenty of time to get to your choice of “night before the parade” parties.
You can get tickets ahead of time at the festival box office (at Strut on Castro, opposite the Castro Theatre a bit closer to 18th) or online at Frameline.ORG.  The day of, you can buy tickets at the venue unless the screening is “sold out” — in which case just show up as far ahead of time as possible and get in the “Rush” line for the last few reserved seats they release just before curtain. Back before I started getting the all-access pass, I was in the “Rush” line easily a dozen times and never once failed to get in.

Oh, and one random factoid: the movie Alaska is a Drag is about Alaska, the state, not Alaska, the RuPaul’s Drag Race alumna, but it does still involve drag queens.

Extra Terrestres (Extraterrestrials)

Extra Terrestres (Extraterrestrials), dir. Carla Cavina Meléndez, 2016 Venezuela/Puerto Rico, 113 min., in Spanish with English subtitles 😐
Saturday, June 17, 9:15 p.m., Roxie Theatre: West Coast première
Thursday, June 22, 9:30 p.m., Elmwood Theatre, Berkeley
Extra Terrestres (Extraterrestrials)

Quest (documentary)

Quest, dir. Jonathan Olshefski, 2017 USA, 106 min. 👍
Sunday, June 18, 9:15 p.m., Roxie Theatre
Quest

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Frameline 41: East Bay highlights

I will be spending almost all of the festival in the three San Francisco venues this year, as I usually do, although this year I am planning to schlep across the vast and forbidding briny deep for one screening. However, for those of you who actually live east of Treasure Island, there are some exceptional films you can see this year without braving the sea monsters who live under the bridge and in the BART tube. 
 
The East Bay venues are the Elmwood Theatre, College & Ashby in Berkeley, from Sunday, June 18 through Thursday, June 22, and the Piedmont Theatre on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, from Thursday, June 22 through Saturday, June 24. (Yes, that means there is one day that you have two venues competing for your eyeballs in the seats and your butts on the screen, or something like that.)
 
Here are my top picks:

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution, dir. Yony Leyser, 2017 USA, 72 min. 👏
Saturday, June 17, 9:30 p.m., Victoria Theatre: North American première
Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution

Coming Up Queer (2017)

“Coming Up Queer” (shorts program), total runtime 75 min. 💖
Sunday, June 18, 1:30 p.m., Victoria Theatre
1 world première, 2 West Coast premières

Monday, June 12, 2017

QWOCFF 2017

I spent a good chunk of this weekend at the Queer Women of Color Film Festival, produced by QWOCMAP SF (QWOC Media Arts Project). Here are my impressions:
I included some grainy photos of the shorts filmmakers (best I could do with a smartphone for a camera). Even though I identify as neither a woman nor a person of color, it’s still empowering to see people putting their own stories, in their own words, in their own images, out into the world. Kudos to Executive Director Madeleine Lim, Managing Directory Kebo Drew, Festival Coordinator Raquel López, the board and other volunteers, and most of all the filmmakers, for putting together a great festival.

QWOCMAP website • Twitter: @QWOCMAPSF

QWOCFF: Tenacious for Love

“Tenacious for Love” (shorts program) 👏
Queer Women of Color Film Festival
Sunday, June 11, 6:00 p.m., Brava Theater

Raquel López, Robin Cloud, Jai Lei Yee
Jay Roque, Raquel Stratton, Jay Gash
Monique Dismuke, Lorena Arriola
Erinn Carter, Monica James, Sabine Talaugon
Monica Ortiz, Denise W. Henderson, Tina Takemoto

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Lavender Scare

The Lavender Scare, dir. Josh Howard, 2016 USA, 88 min. 💖
Sunday, June 18, 11:00 a.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première
Saturday, June 24, 2:15 p.m., Piedmont Theatre (Oakland): East Bay première
The Lavender Scare