LGBT Film Festival Honors George Takei
Jim Van Buskirk
Local filmmakers and subjects once again populate Frameline38, the 38th San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, which returns to the Bay Area June 19 through 29. The 11-day festival is expected to attract 65,000 film lovers, media artists, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning communities — and their allies — to discover the best in queer cinema. The documentaries, features, shorts, and classic films come from more than thirty countries, including Germany, Venezuela, Slovenia, Mexico, Finland, France, and – ironically, given Valdimir Putin’s recent antigay rhetoric — a special spotlight on emerging Russian LGBT cinema.
Opening the festival is The Case Against 8, directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White. The HBO documentary investigates the first Supreme Court case on marriage equality, following the plaintiffs and the unlikely team of attorneys Ted Olsen and David Boies as they challenge California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, and including exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, the film features Berkeley residents Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.
The centerpiece documentary, To Be Takei, celebrates actor and activist George Takei, who experienced a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II, achieved fame for his role in Star Trek, has millions of Facebook fans, and who, with his husband, Brad, is an advocate for marriage equality. The 90-minute documentary’s director, Jennifer Kroot, lives in the Haight and editor/codirector Bill Weber lives in the Castro. Takei will receive this year’s Frameline Award in honor of his wide-ranging and pioneering contributions to the representation of LGBTQ figures in media.
The South-of-Market neighborhood is well represented by both subjects and filmmakers. Mike Skiff’s Folsom Forever explores the history of the Folsom Street Fair as it turns 30. Also set in SoMa – as well as the Nob Hill Theatre – is Wham, Bam, Mr. Pam, Nicolas Kazamia’s profile of “Mr. Pam,” the former Catholic schoolgirl who became a successful videographer of gay male porn. Prinsesa, directed by Daly City resident Drew Stephens, about a young boy who dreams of becoming a Filipina princess, is centered on SoMa. Filmmakers residing in SoMa include Aron Kantor, director of the three-minute short, Puppy Love, and Paul King, director of Ladies and Gentleman: Phatima Rude, about the “pioneer of the alternative queer punk drag scene.”
Bay Area resident Zoe Dunning, the first and only openly gay person allowed to remain on active duty in the military prior to the end of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, is profiled in Silvia Turchin’s short Veteran Documentary Corps: Zoe Dunning. Notorious transsexual chanteuse, Bambi Lake, strolls down pre-AIDS Polk Street, where she once worked as a street hustler and later as a performer in the burgeoning San Francisco 1980s’ punk scene, in Silas Howard’s Sticks & Stones. Actor and comedian Alec Mapa, who was born in San Francisco and attended George Washington High School, is profiled by Andrea James in Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy, which tells how his life has changed since he and his husband adopted a child through foster care.
Noe Valley filmmaker Susan Sullivan’s short First Clue asks women, “What was your first clue you were a lesbian?” Elvira Lind’s documentary Songs for Alexis features local musician Ryan Cassata. Housing First is John Smathers’ investigation into how San Francisco’s housing affordability crises are affecting the LGBTQ community.
Frameline38 screenings will take place in San Francisco at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street, and Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street, and in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College Avenue. Check the website for schedule and tickets: www.frameline.org/festival.
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