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With in-person Pride festivities canceled due to COVID-19, Frameline44 proudly waves its rainbow flag later this month and is hosting a four-day virtual event. The impressive lineup was announced Wednesday.
Running from June 25-28, Frameline44 Pride Showcase celebrates the 50th year of San Francisco Pride and diverse filmmaking through premieres and festival faves — “Fun in Boys Shorts,” “Fun in Girls Shorts” and “Transtatastic” short films — along with taped movie intros, live Q&As and other goodies.
It also features two films set in San Francisco, and “Ahead of the Curve,” a world premiere documentary about the influential lesbian magazine Curve that was launched in San Francisco, and how it’s facing challenges. The film is directed by Oakland-based documentary filmmakers Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow.
Frameline had originally planned its annual 11-day LGBTQ+ festival for the middle of June, but rescheduled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The show, rather festival, will go on in the fall, says executive director James Woolley.
“We still plan to screen lots of films in the fall,” he said. “It’s most likely to be a virtual festival too, perhaps it will be a hybrid, with some more screenings at drive-ins. But it will be far larger than the Pride Showcase that we have in June. We aim to remain the world’s largest and most important LGBTQ+ film festival. To do that we’ve got to keep screening lots and lots of films.”
In total, this June’s Showcase boasts 12 world premieres, one international premiere, three North American premieres and two U.S. premieres.
The Pride Showcase creates a bit of Bay Area history, holding what appears to be their first world premiere — “Ahead of the Curve” — at the West Wind Solano Drive-In in Concord.
Another documentary, the short “Parade,” is germane to the Bay Area, documenting the first Showcase program, he says, is reflective — as every past festival has been — of the times in which we live.
“It’s a festival organized by Frameline, so of course it’s packed with films that represent the diversity of the LGBTQ+ experience. Many of the films are about activism, such as “Denise Ho — Becoming the Song,” “Welcome to Chechnya” or “Ahead of the Curve.” Many films represents LGBTQ+ African American experiences, such “Tahara” or a special preview episode of ‘The Chi.’”
Some of the notable films include:
• “Denise Ho — Becoming the Song”: The Hong Kong singer/activist talks about her coming-out process as well as the mentor who inspired her and the reason she takes to the street to protest in Hong Kong. The world premiere is directed by Sue Williams.
• “Welcome to Chechnya”: The award-winning and intense documentary follows activists in Russia as they smuggle queer people out of the dangerously homophobic region of Chechnya. It airs June 30 on HBO as well.
• “Stage Mother”: Oscar-nominated actress Jacki Weaver plays Maybelline, a Texan hoping to learn more about her drag-star son and his death in San Francisco. Lucy Liu, Mya Taylor and Adrian Grenier co-star in Thom Fitzgerald’s crowd-pleaser. Filmed partially in San Francisco.
• “Lingua Franca”: Isabel Sandoval wrote, directed and stars in this drama about a Filipina caregiver — who is transexual — and her new relationship that creates more fear that she’ll be deported.
• “The Chi”: The third season of the Showtime series created and executive produced by Lena Waithe features an episode written by Oakland native Marcus Gardley. The Chicago-set drama features Jacob Latimore and Yolonda Ross.
• “Twilight’s Kiss (Suk Suk)”: Two men in Hong Kong come to terms with their sexuality and embark on a relationship that becomes deeper than either expected. Ray Yeung’s drama is receiving a North American premiere.
• “Ema”: Director Pablo Larrain’s shocker about a bisexual dancer (Mariana Di Girolamo) seeking every means possible to get custody of her child. Gael Gracía Bernal co-stars.
Tickets are available now and cost $8-$10 per screening. Passes start at $250 and are valid all year. Both are available at frameline.org. Patrons can also access the films anytime over the four-day event as well as tune in live to each screening.