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Frameline’s virtual film festival in September is anything but a drag even though the Sept. 17 opener features drag queens galore and has a naughty word in its title.
Programmers postponed their annual celebration of LGBTQ+ cinema held in June and shifted to a virtual program. This 44th lineup follows in the footsteps of Los Angeles’ Outfest, which went virtual and runs throughout this weekend. Anyone from California can join in and watch the films.
On Tuesday, executive director James Woolley and Frameline’s staff announced an enticing 11-day lineup, which includes 10 world premieres, a virtual gala, an auction and — of course — a bevy of shorts and features, some with strong Bay Area ties.
The festival kicks off Sept. 17 with D’Arcy Drollinger’s bubbly and ribald world premiere comedy “Shit & Champagne” at Concord’s West Wind Solano Drive-In. Tickets are on sale now and will likely be gobbled up fast for that one.
Other festival highlights include:
• “Through the Glass Darkly”: Director Lauren Fash’s ominous Georgia-set thriller plumbs a community’s dark past while a mother (Robyn Lively), along with her partner, desperately search for her missing daughter and the town’s matriarch. It’s one of the fest’s centerpiece selections and receives a world premiere.
• “Alice Júnor”: A teen social media star who is trans leaves her liberal beachside town in Brazil and encounters bullying in a more tradition-bound rural town. Undeterred, she strikes out to make new friends. Gil Baroni’s rite-of-passage drama receives a Bay Area premiere and is also a centerpiece.
• “Cowboys”: Anna Kerrigan’s Montana-set Western finds a mentally fragile father (Steve Zahn) absconding with his 11-year-old trans son (Sasha Knight) to the Canadian border. It’s a quiet must, and won Zahn the best actor award and Kerrigan a best screenplay in the U.S. categories at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Jillian Bell and Ann Dowd co-star.
• “Shiva Baby”: In this outrageous comedy from Emma Seligman, a bisexual and sexually adventurous post-grad student, gets into a swirl of hilarious trouble at a shiva where her paramours meet and greet. It receives a Bay Area premiere.
• “Forgotten Roads”: Discovering love later in life and the challenges of being true to yourself and not to the social constraints of a community are explored in Nicol Ruiz Benavides world premiere set in a small Chilean town.
• “Monsoon”: Fans of swoonable Henry Golding of “Crazy Rich Asians” won’t want to miss director Hong Khaou’s follow-up to his well-received “Lilting.” Golding returns to Saigon after his parents’ deaths and falls for an expat (Parker Sawyers).
• “Rūrangi”: Director Max Currie’s drama about a trans activist returning to New Zealand and dealing with family, friends and a perplexed ex-boyfriend receives a world premiere.
• “Killing Patient Zero”: Laurie Lynd’s explosive documentary takes a complex view of the much-vilified flight attendant who was alleged to be the original harborer for the AIDS epidemic, a person featured prominently in the late San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played On.”
• “Pier Kids”: Talented filmmaker Elegance Bratton’s fly-on-the-wall documentary takes a candid look into the lives of queer and trans homeless youths creating a space and community on the West Villiage piers. Bratton also co-directed the short “Buck” (also in the festival) and it’s dynamite.
• “The Obituary of Tunde Johnson”: In this topical talker, a “Groundhog Day” concept plays out as a gay Black teen (Steven Silver of Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”) awakens each day to the reality of being killed by cops. It too is a centerpiece selection.
• “Equal: Episodes 2 and 3”: Frameline teams up with HBO Max to screen two segments of the fledgling streaming service’s dramatic recreations of pivotal gay-rights events and figures. Of particular Bay Area interest is Kimberly (“Boys Don’t Cry”) Reed’s take on the 1966 riot at San Francisco’s Compton Cafeteria, which predates Stonewall. It stars Jamie Clayton, Alexandra Grey and Theo Germaine. Both episodes receive world premieres.
• “Chosen Fam: Season 1”: In this episodic, receiving a world premiere, a Bay Area indie band lands a gag opening for a group that inspires them while band members cope with more complications in their personal lives.
• “Eleven Weeks”: Anna Kuperberg’s heartwrenching documentary follows a Bay Area lesbian couple through the process of an agressive cancer diagnosis. It receives a world premiere. It’s part of the Homegrown shorts program.
“Carving Space”: Queer skateboarders in the East Bay have found a safe place to show their fancy moves thanks to Unity Skateboarding, a group founded by Jeffrey Cheung and his partner Garbriel Ramirez. Annie Dean-Ganek’s documentary follows the group that’s trying to make a difference not only in Oakland but the nation. It’s also part of the Homegrown shorts program.
* Tickets cost $8-$12 per screening and full passes are available starting at $250. Q&As with filmmakers and cast members will be conducted live and will also be taped to watch later. All films can be watched throughout the festival’s 11-day run. For the entire program and to purchase tickets, visit frameline.org.