Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, returns this weekend with a diverse lineup of features, documentaries, and shorts from around the world. Here are some of the highlights:
Set at an elite lycée in France, Sébastien Marnier’s School’s Out, follows a vicious power struggle between a gay substitute teacher (Laurent Lafitte) and an unusually hostile group of AP students. To say more would spoil it – let’s just say it’s deeply unnerving and resonant in the Trump era. Another story about young adults, Martha Stephens’ Sundance crowd-pleaser To The Stars, plays like a queer cousin to Peter Bogdanovich’s black & white classic, The Last Picture Show. Set in a small town in 1950’s Oklahoma, Kara Hayward especially shines as Iris, an introverted wallflower type who makes friends with a troubled new girl from school. Bonus points for casting Juna from The Comeback (Malin Ackerman) and Gary from Veep (Tony Hale) as villainous parental types. Back in February, Berlinale audiences were left shooketh by a trio of heavy relationship dramas: Romanian filmmaker Marius Oltenau’s slow-burning debut Monsters spends 24 hours in lives of Dana and Arthur, an unhappily married Bucharest couple seeking nighttime connections with strangers. Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamente’s agonizingly intense religious drama Temblores stars Juan Pablo Olysager as a handsome family man attempting to come out of the closet – and his garbage-ass family that’ll go to great lengths to push him back inside. Newcomer Sabrina de la Hoz is especially chilling and convincing as a vindictive pastor. Those longing for a heaping helping of corporate lesbian intrigue should catch Austrian director Marie Kreutzer’s The Ground Beneath My Feet. The excellent Valerie Pachner gives a tour-de-force performance as Lola, an overworked business consultant struggling to maintain composure as her older sister slips further and further into mental illness. And last, but certainly not least – Miranda Hobbs fans will love Stray Dolls, a grungy crime-thriller about two working class gals who steal the wrong brick of cocaine. Cynthia Nixon co-stars as a shady hotel owner with a bizarro Eastern European accent that fades in and out, depending on the scene.
The documentary section’s shimmering crown jewel You Don’t Nomi deconstructs the triumphant second life of Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 cult classic Showgirls. Stans, critics and intellectuals ponder the film’s meaning and intent while coming to the obvious conclusion: “it doesn’t suck.” The unexpectedly moving Scream, Queen! follows Mark Patton (the star of Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) as he comes to terms with the film’s negative impact on his life, culminating in a memorable confrontation with screenwriter David Chaskin. Hilarious, intimate, and filled with fun cameos, Trixie Mattell: Moving Parts spends a turbulent year with the Milwaukee native as she transitions from Drag Race All Stars winner to country music performer/internet TV star. For those in need of some international carrying, electronic artist/renowned fashionista Kiddy Smile and his eclectic crew give viewers an eye-opening tour of the Parisian ballroom scene in Giselle Bailey & Nneka Onuorah’s Burn the House Down. From Brazil, Daniel Nolasco’s stylish and unabashedly explicit peek into São Paulo’s fetish scene follows five men set to compete for the country’s second annual Mr. Leather competition. Two snaps for bringing up topics like discrimination and gender inclusion. Meanwhile, Michael Barnett’s Changing The Game introduces a handful of young athletes as they brave the firestorm and bigotry surrounding transgender rights in American sporting events. British filmmaker Jeanie Finlay’s Seahorse accompanies Freddy McConnell, a gay transgender man, and his partner over the course of three years as they attempt to start a family. And finally, Marion Scemama’s Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds: a Chapter in David Wojnarowicz’s Life, 1989-1991 weaves excerpts from the artist’s body of work with a candid interview from 1989 by Sylvère Lotringer.
- The unapologetically queer shorts program Dark Twisted Fantasies features three wildly subversive takes on desire, obsession and sexual fluidity. In the deliriously violent opener, The Glamorous Boys of Tang, Taiwanese director Su Hui-Yuo reimagines “lost footage” of a glittery, blood-splattered orgy from the 1985 cult film Tang Chao qi li nan. Later, a gay director tests the boundaries of three heterosexual men on an outdoorsy photo shoot in André Santos and Marco Leão’s Self Destructive Boys. Closing things out, Bertrand Mandico’s futuristic, neon-soaked lesbian love story Apocalypse After doesn’t quite achieve the same brilliance as his genderfucked maritime odyssey The Wild Boys, yet still manages to create a singular, hypnotic experience.
For the full lineup and tickets, click here.