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Frameline 39 Suggestions Part 1

For the eleven days leading up to the annual Pride celebrations, San Francisco becomes host to the Frameline Film Festival. The 2015 edition, aka Frameline 39, runs from June 18 through 28 at the Castro, Roxie, and Victoria Theaters in San Francisco. Frameline 39’s East Bay venues will be Berkeley’s Rialto Cinemas Elmwood and Oakland’s Landmark Theatres Piedmont.

This year’s festival offers nearly 180 films (both shorts and features) from over 30 countries. Unless one has a Frameline Gold or Platinum Card and plenty of time, it would be impossible to catch everything. In the interest of helping readers navigate the many offerings of Frameline 39, here are some suggestions on shows to catch during the first five days of the festival:

From This Day Forward–Years ago, filmmaker Sharon Shattuck’s father came out to her family as transgender. Given that the Shattuck family lived in a small Midwestern town, Shattuck and her sister could see no solution other than for her parents to get a divorce. Yet Shattuck’s parents didn’t divorce but stayed together. Now the filmmaker returns to her home town to take a second look at the impact on her family of father Michael’s transition to Trisha.

How To Win At Checkers (Every Time)–This Frameline Completion Fund drama from Thailand is a powerful coming-of-age tale about the loss of emotional and social innocence. Oat remembers an eventful period when he was 11 years old. His brother Ek was in a relationship with the rich Jai. However, that golden time gets threatened by the impending Draft Day. Oat’s effort to prevent his brother from getting drafted into the military sets in motion a chain of events that makes Oat realize just how little he knows about the adult world.

I Am Michael–James Franco stars as Michael Glatze in this biopic of the former gay rights activist. The film non-judgmentally follows Glatze from his days writing for XY Magazine with his boyfriend Bennett (Zachary Quinto) through the events that lead him to “renounce his gayness” and to embrace being straight.

The Royal Road–Jenni Olson’s acclaimed film essay visually brings a still photographer’s sensibility to a San Francisco not seen by tourists. But her voiceover monologue travels back and forth in time among the tainted legacy of Father Junipero Serra, a passionately one-way long-distance relationship, and the virtues of Hollywood movies in self-defining Olson’s identity.

Tab Hunter Confidential–2015 Frameline awardee Jeffrey Schwarz (Vito) recounts the life and rollercoaster career of closeted 1950s golden boy heartthrob Tab Hunter. Based on Hunter’s autobiography, Schwarz’ film follows Hunter’s life from fame based on concealing his sexual orientation through his real triumphs once he no longer had to publicly appear in fake relationships.

A Woman Like Me–After director Alex Sichel (All Over Me) learns she has metastatic breast cancer, she decides to cinematically chronicle her living with the disease. Her medical visits for blood draws and X-ray scans get captured on film. But Sichel’s coping mechanisms soon include Buddhist meditation and making a fictionalized account of her idealized struggles with Lili Taylor playing the director’s stand-in. The resault is a wrenching and ultimately moving hybrid documentary.

The Yes Men Are Revolting–The newest cinematic account of activist pranksters The Yes Men finds the titular duo facing a midlife crisis. Now that they have significant others and even kids, can their creative pranking still keep going as it has been? As the duo turn their attention to the global warming crisis, they take on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and drop in on the Copenhagen 21 conference.

Obviously there are shorts programs and other Frameline 39 films which might catch your eye. But treat the suggestions above as a starting point for your own exploration of Frameline 39.

About the Author

I'm a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film...but don't tell anyone.

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