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.)
- Sunday 6/18, 9:30 p.m., Elmwood: Brown Girls. Yes, you can watch it online for free, but I am planning to show up for the East Bay screening for the experience of sharing this wonderful web series with the amazing audience I think will be there with me. I reviewed the one episode (of 7 total) that appears in this year’s “Fun in Girls Shorts” program, and I’m looking forward to the other six. I will be there for this screening.
- Monday 6/19, 7:00 p.m., Elmwood: Desert Hearts. This 1985 film is near the top of any list of all-time classic lesbian films. You’ve probably seen it more than once, you can get it on DVD, but I’m guessing there will be a virtual “who’s who” of the East Bay lesbian community for this stroll down memory lane. Then, if you want some new material, stay for the shorts program that follows at 9:30.
- Thursday 6/22, 9:30 p.m., Piedmont: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha P. Johnson was part of the original Stonewall riots and a trailblazer in transgender activism. She died in 1992 in what the authorities ruled a suicide but it looks a lot like murder. This should be a powerful documentary.
- Friday 6/23, 7:00 p.m., Piedmont: Girl Unbound. Waziristan is a tribal region on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with Taliban fighters crisscrossing at will. Against that backdrop, Maria Toorpakai stands openly for women’s rights and gender nonconformity. This should be another powerful documentary.
- Saturday 6/24, 12 noon onwards, Piedmont: The perennially popular “Fun in Girls Shorts” program makes its East Bay debut, followed by four more solid films.