Beginning November 20, SDFF will present the final two films in its 2020 festival, Docs Make House Calls, and its collaboration with “Who Are You?”, a SebArts online exhibition that reflects on identity and community—how we understand our identity within our communities and how our communities are defined. Butterfly is also co-presented with OutWatch, Wine Country’s LGBTQI film festival. This film program ends on Nov. 29 and costs $12.
We encourage donations beyond your ticket cost. Consider matching what you might have spent on that medium popcorn plus Milk Duds or Raisinets. Thank you for joining us online for our SDFF 2020 virtual program Docs Make House Calls. These two documentaries are the end of a year full of surprises and challenges. But thanks to our filmmakers and the SDFF community we made it through. Stay connected through our website for documentary news and events. Behind the scenes SDFF 2021, April 22 – 25, is already taking shape.
“I first met Shilpa when she was a 9-year-old girl hawking clothes and cheap jewelry on a hippie-lovers’ beach in Goa, India. She was cracking jokes, bursting into spontaneous song, and clearly possessed a personality much larger than her tiny frame. I turned the camera on her and learned she’d been working on the beach since she was five. I learned she belonged to a community of modern-day gypsies and was the primary breadwinner for her family. I learned that her dream in life was to go to school… And I was hooked.” -Christopher McDonell, Director of Queen of The Beach QUEEN OF THE BEACHDirector: Christopher McDonell (Cleetche), 2019, Canada, India, UK, TRT: 106 min Language: English Subtitles: YesSocials: @cleetche, @californiapicsincA Canadian filmmaker befriends a 9-year-old girl and returns 3 times over the next 7 years to capture her story and help her achieve her childhood dream of going to school. Synopsis: “Come look my shop! Very cheap, okay!” While on vacation in Goa, India, Canadian filmmaker Chris McDonell turns his camera on Shilpa Poojar, a funny, charming and skilled beyond her years she is a migrant worker from the unique Banjara people. Forging a connection in this chance encounter, Chris helps Shilpa achieve her childhood dream of going to school – a relentless effort that will test them both along the way. From child-labourer to teenage-entrepreneur to one of the “lucky” ones who learned how to read and write (in a culture that favours boys over girls), Shilpa is now an inspiration to many and has been lovingly nicknamed: “Queen of the Beach”.
BUTTERFLYDirectors: Alessandro Cassigoli + Casey Kauffman, 2018, Italy, TRT: 78 min Language: Italian, Subtitles: Yes Socials: Facebook: @butterflyfilm, Twitter: @infoindycaIn partnership withOutWatch, Wine Country’s LGBTQI film festival Filmed over 3 years, Butterfly follows the developing story of a teenaged, Italian boxer, Irma, trying to find her path in life. Synopsis: Butterfly is the delicate story of an Italian teenager who sees her life plan collapse in eight minutes. Raised in one of Naples’ most troubled neighborhoods, Irma focuses on boxing and reaches the Olympics at just 18 years old. Her dramatic defeat there shakes the core of her identity while family tensions, economic strain, and unrealistic dreams complicate her return home. She struggles to reconnect until a new opportunity forces her to decide who she really is. This is a real-life story, but its irresistible protagonist and cinematic storytelling style allow Butterfly to be experienced like a fiction film. Watch Trailer l Film Website l Buy Tickets
It’s still hard to perceive that even in 2020 public nudity still evokes a torrent of negativity. On one hand there are the juvenile reactions from people who left their teen years decades ago, and on the other hand there is still so much overwhelming out-of-place Victorian censorship . If you show more than a naked ankle on Facebook their narrow minded self-appointed expurgators will banish you and your FB page from public view until you recant.
It’s a regrettable situation that was part of reason why Belgian choreographer THIERRY SMITS developed a dance piece with 11 male nude dancers. Smits claims that this work is depicting a world “overrun by right-wing and neoliberal” ideals, conflating the unabashed nudity with leftism.
So Bare is a film by ALEKSANDR VINOGRADOV that documents the 11th month journey of Smits creating ANIMA ARDENS from the very start to the premiere performance.
The cameras are there for the very intensive couple of days of auditions. Interestingly one of the dancers questions the fact that they are being filmed naked, and he is concerned what will happen with these images especially if he is not cast. It’s a sad indictment of today’s culture where nude images are so often crudely exploited without permission.
Smits ‘ballet” is strictly about male nudity which is unusual in itself and some of the pieces in it are very phallic. Others however switch from the masculine and in one of the most profoundly moving segments, he has the men giving their own concepts of a birthing experience.
The nudity is not intended to be either erotic or provocative but it does show the sheer beauty of the male form. It actually turns out that most of this diverse group men that make up the cast are gay. This may (or may not) have added a level of both personal freedom and more sensitivity on how they perceived their own nudity
Kudos not just to the dancers and their sheer vitality but also to Vinogradov’s camera capturing so many close-ups that he wove into his beautifully edited film
If there is a novelty at seeing 11 naked men on the screen at the start of the film, that completely dissipates by the end. It’s a celebration of masculinity that was a joy to watchhttps://player.vimeo.com/video/405184049
Today, just in time for Halloween, The True Adventures of Wolfboypremieres in select theaters and anywhere you can rent or buy movies. This isn’t a horror movie though – it’s a beautiful coming-of-age film written by Olivia Dufault, a transgender woman, about the fears and emotions trans people may experience as they approach transition.
Paul (Jaeden Martell) is the wolfboy of the title (he has hair all over his face) and he is struggling with his fear that his condition means the world will only ever see him as a freak. As Paul stumbles toward self-acceptance, he meets Aristiana (Sophie Giannamore) who has already made that journey herself as a young trans girl. As she accompanies Paul on their adventures, Aristiana embodies the self-knowledge that many trans people possess, and she quietly shows Paul what it looks like to accept yourself as you are. Giannamore, a young trans actress, stars alongside Martell, John Turturro, Chloë Sevigny, Eve Hewson, and Chris Messina.
Wolfboy has been on GLAAD’s radar since 2017 when the casting director reached out to us for help finding a trans teen to play Aristiana. When Wolfboy premiered at NewFest last year, we published an interview with Sophie Giannamore and you can read that here.
There are very few feature films with transgender characters that are written by trans people, and Wolfboy is a shining example of why trans stories are more rich, compelling, and profound when trans people tell them. Wolfboy is a transition narrative, but since it’s written by a trans woman, it’s told from the inside-out, not the outside-in. We’re so excited to talk to Olivia Dufault about her thought process behind the creation of this beautiful film.
What inspired you to write The True Adventures of Wolfboy?
It was my final semester of college, and I’d waited until the last moment to fulfill my science course requirement. I ended up begrudgingly enrolled in a genetics class, wherein I was exposed to a presentation on unusual conditions passed down hereditarily. One of these slides displayed folks living with hypertrichosis, which results in thick hair that grows on the entirety of one’s face and body. It’s where many believe the “wolfman” myth originated from.
Immediately I was struck by this intersection between the mythological and the mundane, the fantastical and the very real.
But to be brutally honest, my interest in this topic was much more personal. I’d always struggled with my own relationship to my, at the time, unruly facial hair. This potential story felt like a poignant allegory for my issues, though one which I was uncertain how much I’d fully allow myself to explore.
GLAAD and other trans advocates have repeatedly urged cisgender creators to stop writing transition narratives. For one thing, like LGB coming out stories, it’s been done repeatedly and can be reductive if that’s the only story told about trans people. More importantly, the “before during and after transition” stories written by cis people are just not well done or authentic. But for me, Wolfboy is what a transition narrative looks like when a trans person writes it. Were you conscious of trying to write a different type of transition narrative?
I didn’t necessarily set out to write a transition narrative, but as my life and this script proceeded forward in parallel, I soon realized what this story wanted and needed to be.
I began writing Wolfboy about seven years ago, when I was twenty-six. At that time, I was grappling with gender dysphoria, before ultimately reaching the conclusion that I needed to transition in order to essentially survive. It was a thrilling and terrifying time; I was giddy and raw, confronting decades of internalized self-loathing and fear of societal acceptance. I desperately needed to process these feelings, and overcome the insecurities that had festered for so long in my brain. In many ways, writing Wolfboy was essentially the act of me mustering up the courage to transition.
Even at that stage of my life, however, I’d grown tired of the typical “transition narrative” tropes. I didn’t want to underplay the challenges of self-acceptance, but I also didn’t want to see a young trans person struggle endlessly onscreen. There’s enough trans trauma in this world.
As such, employing an allegory (as is so often done in fairytales!) felt like the perfect opportunity to discuss these complicated topics in a way that was unique, honest, and compassionate.
I really appreciate the fact that Aristiana isn’t subjected to the “trans trauma” that we’ve seen in other films.
Other writers might have chosen to leave the transgender story allegorical, but you chose to create Aristiana, a young trans girl who befriends Paul. For me, Paul and Aristiana both represent trans people at different stages of transition: one just starting out and full of fear, and the other comfortable with herself and her place in the world. Is that just me? Or did you choose to write Paul and Aristiana that way?
It’s not just you! This was absolutely intentional on my part. Paul and Aristiana very much represented my internal dialogue with myself, as I was processing my anxieties and overcoming my fears associated with transitioning. Paul was where I was, Aristiana was where I wanted to be.
I love allegories, but one of the problems associated with them is that they can often result in the erasure of a marginalized group of people that they’re intended to represent. As such, it was very important to me from the gestation of this project to depict a vibrant young trans person who was resilient, self-assured, and had already found a community of folks who embraced her.
ted to create a character that I could have watched at age thirteen and both resonated with and been inspired by.
Not to spoil anything about the story, but there is a scene where Paul gets to talk to an elder who also has hair all over his face and body, and Paul asks him “How hard is my life going to be?” I feel like young queer people often long to ask that question of queer elders, yet we rarely have them in our own families. That scene nearly brought me to tears. Did you have any trans elders in your life that you could talk to, or is this scene a moment you wish you could have had?
Sadly, this scene was absolute wish fulfillment on my part. At that time in my life, I would have very much appreciated a trans mentor figure to provide me with practical knowledge and emotional reassurance. I didn’t have that person, so I did the next best thing, and wrote one (of a sort) into existence!
What was it like to work with Sophie Giannamore as she brought Aristiana to life? Are you still in contact with her?
Sophie’s a brilliant actor and an even more brilliant human being. Getting to collaborate with her was one of the highlights of this whole experience. The first time I saw her and Jaeden Martell rehearse a scene together, I got chills. It’s impossible to imagine the character being portrayed by anyone else.
I’m fortunate enough to still remain in contact with Sophie and her family. I just had a socially distanced dinner with them a month ago! We spent the majority of the time gleefully bad-mouthing the Republican party.
I know you’ve written for AMC’s Preacher and FX’s Legion, is there anything else coming up on the horizon for you that we should keep an eye out for?
I have a few exciting projects currently in development, but unfortunately none that I can speak of officially. But stay tuned! I have an indefatigable determination to force the stories I want to see out into this world.
Check out the trailer below for The True Adventures of Wolfboy which is now available in select theaters and anywhere you can rent or buy movies.
Sonoma Film Institute Announces Virtual Screenings for Fall
Sonoma Film InstituteAnnounces Virtual Screenings for Fall 2020 The link for watching the films will be posted on the SFI website by Friday at noon and will be good for 72 hours https://sfi.sonoma.edu
A White, White Day
Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 through Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 A WHITE, WHITE DAY Trailer | TIFF 2019In a remote Icelandic town, an off-duty police chief (a chilling Ingvar Sigurdsson, who received Cannes’ Critics’ Week award for Best Actor for his performance) begins to suspect a local man of having had an affair with his late wife, who died in a tragic accident two years earlier. Gradually his obsession for finding out the truth takes over his life and inevitably begins to endanger himself and his loved ones. Combining classic thriller tropes with a distinctly Nordic arthouse sensibility, the second feature from Hlynur Palmason “engages in storytelling that’s both powerful and fresh throughout, marking him as a talent to watch.” – The Hollywood Reporter (in Icelandic with English subtitles)Free for SSU Students $12 for 72-hour rental to the General PublicReleased: 2019Run time: 109 min.
Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 through Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 Sunless Shadows (official trailer) Mehrdad Oskouei’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed Starless Dreams (2016), Sunless Shadows takes another look at the lives of incarcerated teenage girls. As they serve time in a Tehran juvenile correction facility for the murder of their abusive fathers, husbands, and brothers-in-law-some of them abetted by their mothers, now on death row-a group of Iranian teenage girls share intimate, harrowing stories of the past and their adolescent dreams of the future. “It says everything that many of these long-mistreated young women finally find liberty in incarceration,” Guy Lodge writes in Variety . “The great grace of Oskouei’s subtly devastating film is that he doesn’t take it upon himself to say so.” ( in Farsi with English subtitles)Free for SSU Students $12 for 72-hour rental to the General Public Released: 2019Run time: 74 min.
SONOMA COUNTY VIRTUAL JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL October 13 – November 16, 2020
October 13 – November 16, 2020
The Jewish Community Center Sonoma County is proud to present the 25th Anniversary of the Jewish Film Festival, VIRTUALLY. Ten of the newest and best international films will be available online on a dedicated, user- friendly, film platform. Highlights include the newest release, SUBLET, a moving Israeli LGBTQ drama, and THEY AIN’T READY FOR ME, a documentary about an African American rabbinical student and mother singlehandedly fighting against violence on Chicago’s South Side. The films will be available on-demand throughout the weeks. Embracing the new medium, four live filmmaker talks will allow the community to interact with the creative minds behind the works. There will an audience award for best feature and best short film. Season passes and individual tickets are now on sale.
We’re thrilled to introduce the gracious hosts of our virtual Gala, Peaches Christ and Marga Gomez.Join them on October 16 for Reunion: Making History, an evening of powerful performances, inspiring presentations and a heartfelt celebration of LGBTQ History Makers.
Make sure to get your tickets now for Reunion: Making History, for access to the live broadcast on October 16, as well as sneak peeks of early content along the way!
Peaches Christ is a filmmaker and cult leader living in San Francisco. Her infamous movie events are self-produced at the Castro Theatre and regularly draw over 1,000 attendees to each new production before they tour. Events have featured special guest stars John Waters, Cloris Leachman, Bruce Campbell, Barry Bostwick, Pam Grier and others. Peaches is the alter-ego of Joshua Grannell, the writer and director of the feature film All About Evil. This award-winning dark comedy gore film stars Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Dekker, Cassandra Peterson, Mink Stole and Peaches Christ herself. Peaches Christ has been featured in the films Milk, I Am Divine, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Mansfield 66/67, Scream Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street, You Don’t Nomi and more. Her website is peacheschrist.com.
Marga Gomez is a GLAAD Award winner and one of the first out lesbians in stand-up comedy. Robin Williams called her “Amazing…a lesbian Lenny Bruce.” Armistead Maupin called her “astonishing.” Gomez’s comedy has been featured on HBO, LOGO, Showtime, Comedy Central and PBS. She has been a guest on leading comedy podcasts, including Marc Maron’s WTF and Kevin Allison’s Risk. Her comic style has been described as “deliciously cheeky and incendiary” by the New York Times and “salaciously surreal” by the San Francisco Chronicle. She is also the author/performer of 13 solo plays which have been presented off-Broadway, nationally and internationally. Gomez can be seen in season two of the Netflix series Sense8. Her website is margagomez.com.
Interested in becoming a Sponsor or a Virtual Table Captain? Click on the buttons below to learn more about how you can get involved and help us raise funds to continue preserving and sharing our irreplaceable history.
Beginning September 25, SDFF’s Docs Make House Calls streaming festival will be streaming two films in which the relationship between performance and identity is focalized. For the performers captured on-screen in Gay Chorus Deep South (David Charles Rodrigues) and Siudy Entre Mundos: 50 Performances of the American Dream (Pablo Croce, 2019), stage performances are a means of expression overtly linked to perceptions and experiences of identity. These films not only examine this paradoxically intimate relationship, they also examine how reception figures into such deeply personal expressions, and reveal as much about the identity of culture in general as they do about the performers. This film program begins streaming Sept. 25 and ends on Oct.4 and costs $12. DMHC passes are $50, include this program, and knock the price per program down to $10. Plus, you’ll get a very special piece of SDFF history as a free gift!
We encourage donations beyond your ticket cost. Consider matching what you might have spent on that medium popcorn plus Milk Duds or Raisinets. Online delivery of films is not free for us.
More extraordinary feature length and short films from SDFF 2020 are coming directly to you online through Docs Make House Calls. Check in to sebastopolfilm.org to keep up with special interest stories, news and the opportunity to view more movies that matter.
Gay Chorus Deep South
Director: David Charles Rodrigues, 2019, United States, TRT: 98 min
In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South.
Led by Gay Chorus Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir; the tour brings a message of music, love and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They performed in churches, community centers and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. The journey also challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us—faith, politics, sexual identity—are set aside by the soaring power of music, humanity and a little drag.
Siudy Entre Mundos: 50 performances of the American Dream
Director: Pablo Croce, 2019,Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, TRT: 60 min
Language: English, Spanish, Subtitles: Yes
“This film is a commentary and reflection over perseverance… a road map on how to overcome obstacles and achieve ones goals. Me, as a documentarian, [I] had the privilege to be involved and had so much access to capture the necessary scenes to tell a story that otherwise would be only in the memories of those involved therefore more than exhibiting a film we share an experience.”
—Pablo Croce, Director
An exquisite film testimony to dance, music and heritage now at risk in a failed state.
Siudy Entre Mundos (Between Worlds) – 50 performances of the American Dream, tells the story of the now Miami-based Siudy Flamenco Dance Theater (SFDT) and titular flamenco prodigy, Siudy, as they pursue their own version of the American Dream. The heritage and roots of the performance group are in Venezuela and Spain, but its members are transplanted artists, refugees and immigrants who see themselves accepted in their adopted American homeland and society.
Celebrated as artists in South America and Europe, the dance troupe, and Siudy, seem to have realized their version of the American Dream when their planned 10-week run of the original New York stage production entitled, “Between Worlds” (Entre Mundos in Spanish), achieves acceptable critical and box office success, even selling out in the last weeks of its run. But a scathing review of the show from a New York Times arts critic decimates the company’s self-esteem, leaving its members demoralized and even encouraged to close the show, quit and give up. Instead, the devastated and bewildered troupe work through this heartbreaking low-point, resulting in sold-out houses and winning over critics. This new documentary is a gritty chronicle, bordering on coming-of-age redemptive tale for the artists, but also a universal reflection of what becomes of the human spirit when our dreams seem to die, and then we’re forced to face down our inner dragons of fear and inadequacy, and whatever the challenge, always pick up and start over.
Gaétan Dugas, the Canadian flight attendant was dubbed “Patient Zero” in Randy Shilts groundbreaking book on the AIDS Epidemic, And the Band Played On In her engaging documentary, director Laurie Lynd (Schitt’s Creek; Breakfast with Scot, Frameline34) explodes the myth of the man who brought AIDS to America. Ironically, Gaétan went out of his way to help CDC researchers solve the riddle of the disease that wasn’t wasn’t yet called AIDS. Lynd expertly delves into the most terrifying time in Queer History and emerges with a terrific documentary that is part loving portrait of this vilified man, part health crisis procedural, and part archeological dig.
Gary Carnivele conducted the interview with Director Laurie Lynd via email.
Gary Carnivele: Congratulations on the film and having it shown as part of Frameline. It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in years and such an important story about Gaetan Dugas and how he became known as AIDS Patient Zero.
Laurie Lynd: Thank you so much for your kind words about the film – they mean a lot.
GC: To begin with, what prompted you to create the film?
LL: The idea for the film came from my producer, Corey Russell, who optioned Richard McKay’s terrific book, Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic. When Corey approached me about this material, I was thrilled by the idea of clearing Gaétan Dugas’ name, and also — to revisit And the Band Played On: a book that had a tremendous impact on me when I first read it in the late 1980’s.
I also wanted to make this film because of having lived through the times it depicts, having experienced some (though mercifully not the worst) of the horrors of the AIDS years, and because I have long wanted to mark the costs of homophobia on my generation of queer men and women.
I was first made aware of Gaétan Dugas, the so-called ‘Patient Zero,’ when I read Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played Onin the late 1980’s, after I’d moved back to Toronto. Prior to that, I had lived in New York City, from 1982-1986, i.e. at the height of the worst of the AIDS years, and even though I went to fundraisers at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), I think I had blinkers on for much of that time. It was reading Shilts’ (mostly) masterful book that fully woke me up to the prejudice and hatred that was inhibiting greater, quicker progress on the treatment of AIDS. It helped to inspire me to make one of my first short films, RSVP, in 1990.
And, of course, it was in reading Shilts’ book that I first encountered Gaétan Dugas/aka ‘Patient Zero.’ I freely admit now that when I first read the book, I totally bought into the ‘Patient Zero’ story and Shilts’ version of Dugas.
With hindsight, I recognize that my reaction was in no small part due to my as yet unacknowledged internalized homophobia, as well as Shilts’ persuasive (and subtly, unintentionally, homophobic) writing, in which we can clearly see that he created ‘good’ ‘respectable’ gays vs. ‘bad,’ prodigiously sexual gays, i.e. Dugas.
I don’t believe Shilts’ version of Gaétan Dugas as he is portrayed in the book – but that was based on what Shilts knew at the time. Had Shilts written the book today, I think he would have written Dugas very differently.
I understand Shilts and Michael Denneny’s “doing the wrong thing for the right reason” – and yes, using the Patient Zero myth to promote Band destroyed one man’s legacy and perpetuated the stereotype of gay men as careless, promiscuous, hedonists, but I believe that that PR stunt propelled And the Band Played On to the bestseller lists, where it belonged, where it needed to be to help wake North America up to the cost of the homophobia of the Reagan administration.
Internalized homophobia has been a key theme for me as a filmmaker, which I’ve been able to explore in three films so far: my short, The Fairy Who Didn’t Want To Be a Fairy Anymore, the feature, Breakfast with Scot, and of course, now, in Killing Patient Zero.
I had the great good fortune to meet and work with John Greyson in 1991, when I produced his short film, The Making of ‘Monsters’ at the Canadian Film Centre (CFC). Knowing John and then, of course, seeing his incredible 1993 film, Zero Patience, totally woke me up to the ridiculousness of the whole ‘Patient Zero’ story and to the homophobia behind the need to assign blame for this disease.
GC: For me, the documentary is most importantly a portrait of Gaeton and his willingness to be interviewed and studied in those early days of the epidemic when so many were understandably weary to work with health officials. Tell us about Gaeton and what you learned about him that surprised you.
LL: I think the most important thing I learned about Gaétan was his kindness – I heard story after story about his kindness and consideration as a friend – which helped to dispel the version of him created by Randy Shilts in Band.
GC: The other aspect of the film is this detailed procedural that shows the audience how city health officials went about contact tracing and other scientific methods to understand how AIDS was experiencing such rapid spread in those early days. What was the extent of your research and how did it help shape the structure of the film?
LL: In so many ways, my primary research was done for me by Richard McKay’s wonderful book, on which the film is based: Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic. It was also essential for me to re-read (and re-read) And the Band Played On. And I was greatly helped by my archival researcher as well. In so many ways, though, the biggest task was researching and choosing whom to interview – I remember the moment when I thought, why not ask Fran Lebowitz? She might say yes, and to my ever-lasting delight, she did!
GC: You and your team do an expert job of setting the stage that truly brings the audience right back there decades ago when the LGBT Community was at the onset of what would prove to be our biggest challenge. Tell us about some of the folks who you looked to help you put us smack dab in the middle of what was a terrifying and tumultuous time.
LL: In many ways, I didn’t need to look further than my own experience: having been out as a gay man from around 1978 onwards, I witnessed first hand those heady times – and it was essential for me to give a contemporary audience both a sense of what that was like – and why it was important. It’s so easy for people to judge the so-called promiscuity of those days, but they forget that this was the first time in history, the 1970’s, when gay men could finally have sexual relationships without fear of society’s damnation (for the most part, or at least with less fear than we had in the past). We were barely a decade into the gay liberation movement when AIDS hit.
GC: The attention to detail in “Killing Patient Zero” is stunning and really delves into the complicated situations that surrounded Gaetan, specifically the research, writing and publication of Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played.” It was the first book written about the AIDS Crisis and while so much about the book is important, for many there are issues about the book and the exposure of Gaetan that almost mute the book’s impact. How did you go about presenting all sides in such an effective manner?
LL: First, thank you for appreciating what I was trying to do: to present all sides of this story. My motto for this film was (and is) “I’m not blaming anyone.” It was so important to me that Randy Shilts not emerge as the villain of the piece – yes, it was a terrible thing that was done to Gaétan’s posthumous reputation, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to help correct that damage; but Randy’s work, And the Band Played On is a brilliant book that had a huge impact on mainstream awareness of AIDS.
And of course, similarly, I did not want to blame Gaétan for his continued sexual activity in the face of the growing epidemic. Gaétan died before the HIV virus had been discovered! Doctors had been trying to ‘cure’ us of our homosexuality for decades and decades – why would we believe them now, when we finally have a chance to have unfettered sexual lives?
I think documentary filmmakers have a unique opportunity to educate their audience. I believe tough, challenging information can more easily be digested when it’s served up in a compelling, entertaining way.
It’s for that reason that I also feel one has a moral obligation to be as truthful and accurate as possible when presenting true stories – and not to distort an interview subject’s words, which is so easy to do if one were to go down that rabbit hole.
GC: It is wonderful that you were able to speak to a number of folks that were friends and even a lover of Gaetan’s, but were unable to get his family involved. Was this a big set-back or disappointment to you and, if so, how did you overcome that? If you had been able to include Gaetan’s family members what would you have asked them to participate?
LL: We nearly had a Dugas family member participate in the film, but in the end, she decided not to. And as I say in the film, I think of the family’s silence as a principled stand, one that I deeply respect.
It was a great disappointment, at first, as I had thought this was a chance for the family to tell their side of the story and what those terrible times were like for them. (Thank god it wasn’t in the age of social media – the family would have suffered even more!) But I subsequently realized their participation wasn’t essential – I don’t think they would have known Gaétan’s life as a gay man the way his friends and colleagues did.
It remains a concern of mine that the film will re-kindle, for Dugas’ family and friends, the difficult time when the ‘patient zero’ story was first erroneously circulated in 1987. My fervent hope is that the greater good, in rehabilitating his name, will justify the story’s re-emergence.
We sent a link to the finished film to the Dugas family, and we know that it was watched several times – but we never heard their response.
GC: I’ll resist slipping in a spoiler, because I think everyone needs to see this film and experience it’s many revelations, but which of those revelations had the most impact on you and your team as filmmakers and on the project itself?
LL: While I thought I knew most of the story of the AIDS epidemic, having lived through it – there were definitely major revelations I hadn’t anticipated. We won’t detail the typographic/misreading of a phrase that played such a crucial part in creating the patient zero myth, but I was stunned when I learned that. The other thing that comes to mind is the shocking heartlessness in the White House Press Room – at a time when 600 gay men were dead and dying of this new plague, the Press Secretary was laughing and joking about it!!! It enrages me.
GC: You’ve had films presented by Frameline in the past, but this year a pandemic has forced the world’s biggest LGBT Film Festival to go virtual. What are your feelings about having to present and promote “Killing Patient Zero” as the world struggles to survive COVID-19?
LL: Killing Patient Zero was filmed a year before the Covid crisis, so it wasn’t in my mind while making the film. Subsequently, the timeliness of the film is something that saddens me – that we are still making some of the same mistakes we made during the AIDS Epidemic.
I think the greatest lesson from the AIDS epidemic is the cost of bias, of prejudice and ignorance — the fact that The New York Times did something like 5 articles (according to Michael Denneny’s interview, the editor of Band) during the first 6 years of the epidemic reveals how prejudice against homosexuals limited what could have been early, life-saving mainstream attention paid to the emerging plague.
The lesson is one of not letting bias/prejudice inform what’s considered news — something I fear that can never be fully learned, and in some ways, is more deeply entrenched in our society now where ‘everybody’s a journalist,’ and much of what ends up being disseminated by non-legacy media is pure bias.
I think the other great parallel between the AIDS Epidemic and the Covid Epidemic we’re in is that human beings still seem to need to blame someone for whatever ill we are facing.
While I can understand gay men’s initial reluctance to use condoms in the early days of the AIDS Epidemic, for reasons explored in the film, the current parallel, i.e. the controversy around wearing masks, is confounding to me.
I will never understand resistance to doing something that might help my fellow citizens. It is for this reason I wear a mask, to protect them, not me. (And I’m delighted to wear a mask featuring an image of Barbra Streisand from Funny Girl, accompanied by the words, “Hello Gorgeous!”
Selfishly, I have to say that it saddens me not to be able to be at Frameline in person: I think some of the greatest moments in my career have been in attending Frameline and seeing my work screened in the glorious Castro cinema.
But I’m so thrilled to be getting the film out there as it is a story that needs to be told. My hope is for Killing Patient Zero to be seen by as broad an audience as possible. We forget our history so quickly now, and I’m stunned by young people (even young LGBTQ+ people) who don’t know about the shocking homophobia of only decades ago.
And to that end – the film has just been acquired by SUNDANCE NOW, the streaming channel – and will be available in the U.S. and the U.K. It is already on streaming platforms in Australia and Canada.
GC: What do you hope the audience takes away from “Killing Patient Zero?”
LL: I hope audiences will remember the cost of prejudice, and the cost of not caring for one’s fellow human beings… the cost is inestimable.
What are you presently working on?
LL: I had originally conceived of Killing Patient Zeroas a dual biography of both Gaétan Dugas and Randy Shilts. In fact, we interviewed a number of friends and colleagues of Shilts’, footage that didn’t make it into the final film.
And so, I’m excited to say, my next project is a feature documentary on Randy Shilts: Openly Gay Reporter.
GC: Laurie, thank you for creating such an important and beautiful film about a man who was vilified – certainly to a greater extent than the many who faced scorn – during such a terrifying time for our community. I wish you the very best with this film and future endeavors. Thank you for your time.
This digital screening is available to view between 12:01am Thursday, September 17 and 11:59pm Sunday, September 27. We suggest watching it at 4:00pm Sunday, September 20followed by the Q&A. Go to Frameline.org
OUTwatch – Wine Country’s LGBTQI Film Festival is an online virtual film Festival from Friday, October 16 through Sunday October 25 this year. We’ve named the Festival: Looking Back; Moving Forward. We honor those individuals and groups who fought for LGBTQI rights bringing us to this point in time, where we both enjoy many advancements but still struggle to keep those civil rights and expand them to our entire community. The Festival will showcase four enlightening, empowering and entertaining documentaries.
This year, our featured films are: Tongues Untied This 1989 experimental documentary film is directed by Marlon Riggs, one of the top gay filmmakers of the time. It features Essex Hemphill, a celebrated Black Gay male poet as well as Riggs, actor Brian Freeman, and others. The film seeks, in its author’s words to, “…shatter the nation’s brutalizing silence on matters of sexual and racial difference.” This film combines political statement, spoken word and dance to create a film that won awards from Berlin, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Cured This powerful new documentary by Bennett Singer illuminates a pivotal yet largely unknown chapter in the struggle for LGBT equality: the campaign that led the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1973. Through archival footage and interviews with the activists, this film reveals a pivotal moment in the gay liberation movement—one that changed not only the LGBTQ community, but the field of psychiatry. Ahead of the Curve In 1990, Franco created a safe place for lesbians in the form of Curve magazine. Her approach to threats and erasure in the ”90s was to lift all kinds of lesbians up and make them beautifully visible. The magazine helped build a foundation for many intersectional movements being led by today’s activists in the face of accelerating threats to the LGBTQ community. TransMilitary This 2018 documentary chronicles the lives of four individuals (Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace & First Lieutenant El Cook) defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own. They put their careers and their families’ livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The ban was lifted in 2016, but with President Trump now trying to reinstate it, their futures hang in the balance again.
If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Co-producers Gary Carnivele, Jody Laine and Shad Reinstein, please call Gary Carnivele at 707.938.0761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, October 16 – Sunday, October 25.
OUTwatch – Wine Country’s LGBTQI Film Festival October 16 – 25. An exciting virtual film festival, featuring four important LGBTQI documentaries.
Frameline announced the full program for Frameline44—the world’s largest virtual LGBTQ+ film festival—taking place Thursday, September 17 through Sunday, September 27, 2020. This 11-day virtual event will feature 10 world premieres, four international premieres, three North American premieres, and one US premiere, including new narrative features, documentaries, episodics, and shorts programs. In addition, ticket holders will have access to special live and pre-recorded intros, Q&As, and other unique programming, including Frameline’s first-ever virtual gala and live auction (Saturday, September 26), to evoke the live festival experience that has made Frameline the global leader in LGBTQ+ cinema for the past 44 years. Tickets ($8–$12 per screening) and passes (starting at $250) are available now online at frameline.org. This year’s all-virtual platform is open to ticket holders anywhere throughout California. To ensure maximum flexibility, ticket holders will be able to tune in live to each screening or stream nearly every film at any time during the 11-day festival.
Frameline44 will bring film lovers and LGBTQ+ communities from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond together online to discover the latest in queer cinema. Representing 23 countries—from Argentina, France, and Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria, Taiwan, and New Zealand— this year’s slate of films will touch on
themes ranging from the activist roots of pre-Stonewall LGBTQ rights pioneers to Black Lives Matter; and stories ranging from teenage awakenings to queer love in old age. Highlights include the world premiere Drive-In Centerpiece, D’Arcy Drollinger’s Shit & Champagne, featuring the who’s who of drag, including the one-and-only Alaska Thunderfuck; the world premiere of HBO Max’s Equal: Episodes 2 & 3, directed (respectively) by Kimberly Reed and Stephen Kijak and featuring Samira Wiley, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Alexandra Grey; the world premiere Frameline44 Centerpiece, Lauren Fash’s Through the Glass Darkly,featuring Robyn Lively and Shanola Hampton; films that touch on the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, including the Toronto International Film Festival favorite and Frameline44 Centerpiece, Ali LeRoi’s The Obituary of Tunde Johnson; Elegance Bratton’s timely documentary, Pier Kids, that highlights queer and trans homeless youth on the West Village’s piers; and Ashley O’Shay’s inspiring documentary, Unapologetic, highlighting Black feminist voices who stand up to police violence and usher in change; the Tribeca Film Festival multi-award winner, Cowboys, featuring Steve Zahn, Jillian
Bell, and Ann Dowd; and Laurie Lynd’s Killing Patient Zero, the groundbreaking exposé of how a Canadian flight attendant became vilified as the “man who brought AIDS to North America,” and San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts’ complex role in that story.
“Frameline remains the largest virtual LGBTQ+ film festival in the world,” said James Woolley, Frameline Executive Director. “As trailblazers in the industry for over four decades, Frameline continues raising the bar through virtual and interactive programming ensuring important LGBTQ+ stories are being told to a wider audience. Building on the success of our virtual Pride Showcase in June, we have assembled a lineup of films that promise to engage, inspire, and entertain film lovers across California.”
“Although we are not able to gather in person, the need to be inspired, and to share one another’s stories
of LGBTQ+ lives around the globe, is even more palpable,” adds
. “Representing 23 countries from around the world, this year’s lineup touches
on a variety of themes, including the urgency of Black Lives Matter, all with one goal in mind—to
celebrate the power of queer storytelling. This will be my last festival with Frameline. Thanks for a
charming past 3 years and all my very best for another 44 years of showcasing the best LGBTQ+ cinema.”
Exhibition & Programming
* * * Links for film stills and press kits can be found HERE * * *
Paul Struthers, Frameline Director of
SHIT & CHAMPAGNE dir. D’Arcy Drollinger | USA | World Premiere San Francisco’s own drag queen extraordinaire D’Arcy Drollinger swaps the stage for the screen in their first feature film, a wacky send-up of 70s sexploitation flicks with a supporting cast of all-star drag talent. Drollinger stars as the infamous Champagne, an intrepid stripper who finds herself embroiled in a wild plot involving booty bumps, an evil retail chain store, murder, and wigs galore. Shit & Champagne will be screened exclusively at the West Wind Solano Drive-In in Concord, CA.
ALICE JÚNIOR dir. Gil Baroni |Brazil | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Portuguese with English subtitles In this fizzy, warm-hearted coming-of-age tale from Brazil, trans teen Internet sensation Alice must trade in her enviable beachside lifestyle in Recife for a traditional Catholic high school when her family relocates to a conservative rural town. Finding herself a victim of misgendering and bullying by her classmates, Alice uses her confidence and sass to find a new circle of supportive friends as she desperately pines for her first real kiss.
THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON dir. Ali LeRoi | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Gay Black teenager Tunde Johnson (13 Reasons Why’s Steven Silver, in a mesmerizing performance) keeps waking up on the last day of his life to once more relive his death at the hands of killer cops. Timely and urgent, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson updates the Groundhog Day structure with a riveting tale at the intersection of anti-Black police violence and the resurgence of homophobia in the Trump era.
THROUGH THE GLASS DARKLY dir. Lauren Fash | USA | World Premiere Since the sudden disappearance of her daughter a year ago, Charlie (Robyn Lively of both Teen Witch and Twin Peaks fame) has never stopped searching the sleepy Georgia hamlet where she lives with her partner. When the granddaughter of the town’s matriarch vanishes, Charlie sets out to find answers. As she digs into the community’s dark past, Charlie must come face to face with her own destructive secrets in this tense psychological thriller.
BEAUTIFUL DREAMER dir. Amy Glazer | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Starring Erin Daniels of The L Word and adapted from Patricia Cotter’s play, The Surrogate, Beautiful Dreamer is a charming, light-hearted dramedy about family, friendship, and love within a tight-knit group of fortysomethings, shot in and around the Bay Area. Over the course of several months, these friends try to juggle planning a wedding, having a baby through a surrogate, and finishing a novel while relying on each other for much-needed support.
CICADA dirs. Matthew Fifer & Kieran Mulcare | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere After a torrent of hollow and unsatisfying hookups, charming New Yorker Ben (writer-director Matthew Fifer) forms an unexpectedly meaningful bond with silky-voiced Sam during the muggy cicada summer of 2013. As the two men grow closer and more vulnerable, at a time when disturbing details from the trial of coach Jerry Sandusky permeate the airwaves, past traumas are revealed and confronted in this personal and affecting debut feature.
COWBOYS dir. Anna Kerrigan | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Troy (a dynamite Steve Zahn, who won the Best Actor prize at Tribeca) escapes to the Canadian border on horseback with his golden-haired, 11-year-old son Joe. How did these “cowboys” wind up here? Unfolding clue by clue through flashbacks, this moving, suspenseful feature from writer-director Anna Kerrigan skillfully tells the story of a contemporary family struggling with how best to raise a transgender child. Jillian Bell, Ann Dowd, and remarkable trans newcomer Sasha Knight also star.
GOSSAMER FOLDS dir. Lisa Donato | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Featuring an excellent ensemble cast of familiar faces and original songs from Sarah McLachlan, the directorial debut of Lisa Donato (co-screenwriter of festival fave Signature Move, Frameline41) is a heartfelt tale of big dreams and unlikely friendships, set in Missouri circa 1986. Newly relocated to the suburbs, 9-year-old Tate sparks a strong bond with two of his neighbors—a Black transwoman and her retired English professor father—as he tries to adjust to his new surroundings and his parents’ crumbling marriage.
MINYAN dir. Eric Steel | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere David is a 17-year-old yeshiva student living with his Russian Jewish immigrant family in 1980s Brooklyn. Stifled by the constraints of his conservative community, David begins seeking solace in an East Village gay bar, leading not only to a sexual awakening but a spiritual one as well, in this tender and evocative portrait of self-discovery.
SHIVA BABY dir. Emma Seligman | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Played by breakout newcomer Rachel Sennott (Tahara, Frameline44 Pride Showcase), Danielle is a sexually-liberated, bisexual post-grad trying to find her footing in life…one paying sugar daddy at a time. When she reluctantly finds herself at a shiva with her parents and her overachieving ex-girlfriend, Danielle gets caught in a series of hilariously awkward encounters that’s made exponentially worse with the arrival of her current, paying beau.
COCOON (KOKON) dir. Leonie Krippendorff | Germany | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In German with English subtitles The summer of 2018 is the hottest ever recorded in Berlin. For 14-year-old Nora, it’s also the summer she discovers her sexuality. With an absentee mother who drinks too much and an older sister more interested in boys than hanging around with her kid sister, Nora is left to her caterpillar collection and her burgeoning feelings for a fellow classmate, Romy, in this bittersweet and accomplished coming-of-age story.
DRY WIND (VENTO SECO) dir. Daniel Nolasco | Brazil | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Portuguese with English subtitles Set in a neon fantasia of erotic exploration, Dry Wind follows the yearnings (both kinky and tender) of Sandro, a shy, hunky bear who spices up his mundane life working in a factory in dusty central Brazil with vivid sexual encounters, both real and imagined. Sandro’s giddy array of fetishes and fantasies, and even the prospect of love, come dazzlingly to life in this visually arresting film, one of the hot queer tickets at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
ELLIE & ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT) dir. Monica Zanetti | Australia | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Experiencing her first real crush, high schooler Ellie calls upon the universe to help guide her through it. Enter Tara, Ellie’s dead aunt, who reappears only to her to help her navigate the awkward travails of coming out and falling in love. Monica Zanetti’s delightful romantic comedy is a hilarious and sincere exploration of first love and the family legacies that live inside of us throughout generations.
FORGOTTEN ROADS (LA NAVE DEL OLVIDO) dir. Nicol Ruiz Benavides | Chile | World Premiere In Spanish with English subtitles After her husband’s death, repressed widow Claudina meets the independent and married Elsa, and this new friendship quickly develops into a full-fledged romance. In the gossipy Chilean town of Lautaro, however, the women’s relationship doesn’t stay secret for long, and Claudina must choose between her old life and the open road ahead in this delicate coming-of-(older)-age film that’s brimming with sweetness and vitality.
THE GODDESS OF FORTUNE (LA DEA FORTUNA) dir. Ferzan Ozpetek | Italy | West Coast Premiere In Italian with English subtitles Just as their 15-year relationship appears to have hit a lull, gay partners Arturo and Alessandro find their lives thrown for a loop when their friend (and Alessandro’s ex-girlfriend) asks them to look after her two adolescent children. A trio of Italy’s brightest stars lead a stellar cast in the latest film from Turkish-Italian auteur Ferzan Ozpetek (Facing Windows; Steam: The Turkish Bath, Frameline22)—a warm, engaging tale about the true meaning of “chosen family,” which juggles interpersonal drama with a healthy dose of humor and heart.
MONSOON dir. Hong Khaou | UK | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In English and Vietnamese with English subtitles For the first time since his family fled during the Vietnam-American War, Kit (Crazy Rich Asians heartthrob Henry Golding) returns to his native Saigon to scatter his parents’ ashes. Ashe navigates this unfamiliar new land, Kit reconnects with estranged family members and strikes up a budding romance with a handsome ex-pat (World on Fire’s Parker Sawyers), embarking on a personal journey to understand his true roots in the long-awaited sophomore feature from Hong Khaou (Lilting, Frameline38).
NO HARD FEELINGS (FUTUR DREI) dir. Faraz Shariat | Germany | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In German, Persian, and Arabic with English subtitles A young German-Iranian raver forms an inseparable bond with two Iranian immigrant siblings over the course of a summer, as threat of deportation looms and a secret romance becomes too explosive to contain, in this year’s winner of the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Filmmaker Faraz Shariat’s exuberant, heartfelt, and slyly funny autobiographical debut shines an empathetic and hopeful light on a generation of displaced youth finding their place in the world
RIALTO dir. Peter Mackie Burns | Ireland, UK | West Coast Premiere After an unexpected encounter in a public bathroom, Colm—a working-class Dublin family man struggling in midlife, played powerfully by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Avengers: Endgame)—becomes enamored with the charismatic, much younger gay-for-pay Jay (Dunkirk’s Tom Glynn-Carney). As Colm’s personal troubles mount and his interest in Jay grows more complicated, Rialto becomes a deeply affecting portrait of a crisis of masculinity.
RŪRANGI dir. Max Currie | New Zealand | International Premiere In English and Māori with English subtitles Trans activist Caz has a lot of explaining to do when he returns home to rural New Zealand after being away for 10 years. Reconnecting with his estranged father, confused ex-boyfriend, and hurt best friend— on top of an environmental crisis that’s threatening the farming community—Caz may have bitten off more than he can chew. The filmmaking team’s #byusandaboutusmission of genuine trans representation is unmistakable, making Rūrangi an authentic celebration not to be missed!
TWO OF US (DEUX) dir. Filippo Meneghetti | France, Luxembourg, Belgium | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In French with English subtitles The closet has dire consequences in this heart-wrenching tale of Mado and Nina, two older lesbians who haven’t disclosed their relationship to the kids yet. When an unexpected crisis puts Mado’s children in charge of their mother, Nina finds herself shunted aside, and her attempts to rescue her relationship with
Mado turn increasingly desperate. German screen icon Barbara Sukowa stars in this sizzling feature debut from director Filippo Meneghetti.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE dir. Jen Rainin | USA From its start in 1990, Curve Magazine was a visionary and unapologetic celebration of lesbian life from cover to cover. When faced with the magazine’s possible end in 2018, director Jen Rainin and Curve founder Franco Stevens explore questions of lesbian visibility and legacy through interviews with contemporary LGBTQ+ tastemakers, “celesbians” (including Jewelle Gomez, Kate Kendall, and Lea Delaria) and rich archival footage of the formation of a lesbian cultural institution.
CURED dirs. Patrick Sammon & Bennett Singer | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere For most of the 20th century, being homosexual in America meant you could be clinically diagnosed as mentally ill and subject to drastic medical interventions posing as “cures.” This riveting documentary reveals the inspiring efforts of a courageous band of gay and lesbian activists in the 1960s-70s, who challenged the American psychiatric establishment to remove the stigma of mental illness from the medical books, and by extension, to free LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
KEYBOARD FANTASTIES: THE BEVERLY GLENN-COPELAND STORY dir. Posy Dixon | UK | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In 1986 in a rural town in Ontario, Glenn Copeland recorded a new sound that paired folk-electronic music with his classically trained voice. He sold two dozen cassette tapes of Keyboard Fantasies, and that was that. Except that it wasn’t. Three decades later, a rare-record collector in Japan discovered the album and sets into motion Glenn’s resurgence into the music scene through intergenerational collaboration and sold-out live performances around the world.
KILLING PATIENT ZERO dir. Laurie Lynd | Canada | West Coast Premiere This groundbreaking documentary about a public health panic offers a dual portrait of Gaëtan Dugas, the Canadian flight attendant villainized as “The Monster Who Brought AIDS to North America,” and San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts, who mythologized Dugas as “Patient Zero” in And the Band Played On. Superb as both original queer history and a corrective to long-held public perceptions, the film shines an empathetic light on a generation traumatized by a virus and by society’s blame—uncannily appropriate for our time.
PIER KIDS dir. Elegance Bratton | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Former “pier kid” Elegance Bratton creates a raw, kaleidoscopic portrait of the queer and trans homeless youth who have carved out space for themselves on the West Village’s piers. This vérité style documentary lets its subjects tell their own stories of struggle and survival, revealing a “world within a world” impossible to ignore.
TRANSHOOD dir. Sharon Liese | USA | West Coast Premiere What was it like being a trans youth between 2015-2019 in the age of Snapchat, bathroom bills, the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the Trump presidency, and the years following the “Transgender Tipping Point?” This feature documentary follows four youths—Avery, Leena, Phoenix, and Jay—as they navigate not only childhood and teenagehood but also change what it means to grow up transgender in this US.
UNAPOLOGETIC dir. Ashley O’Shay | USA | West Coast Premiere Seen through the eyes of two Black, queer women organizers—aspiring social worker Janaé and West Side artist and “rap-tivist” Bella—Unapologetic is a film about “Black girl magic,” offering a lyrical and urgent portrait of the Black Lives Matter movement in Chicago. Produced by Frameline favorite Yvonne Welbon, Ashley O’Shay’s inspirational documentary points its camera at the Black feminist voices standing up to police violence and ushering a progressive change in political leadership in their city and state.
SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN
Spotlight on Taiwan is supported by Ministry of Culture, Taiwan (R.O.C.) and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles
TAIWAN EQUALS LOVE dir. Sophia Yen | Taiwan | World Premiere In Mandarin with English subtitles Just as the LGBTQ+ community in the US was celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriage, the struggle for the same rights was unfolding across the globe in Taiwan. Director Sophia Yen combines the political with the personal as she documents the clash between marriage equality activists and their opponents through a deeply affecting portrait of three couples.
THE TEACHER (WO DE LING HUN SHI AI ZUO DE) dir. Ming Lang Chen | Taiwan In Mandarin with English subtitles This fresh romantic drama takes us boldly into the streets and bedrooms of today’s Taipei. Kevin is a 26- year-old high school civics teacher, comfortably out as a gay man, attending rallies for same-sex marriage and romantically involved with an older married man. But when he dares to bring up gay rights in his classroom, he finds he is putting both his job and relationship in jeopardy.
EQUAL: EPISODES 2 & 3 — Frameline is proud to partner with HBO Max to present a sneak preview of Equal, a documentary series on the pioneers of LGBTQ+ rights who helped change the course of American history through their activism. Join us for two of the series’ episodes, each followed by a discussion. EQUAL is executive produced and led by Scout Productions’ Emmy Award-winning team David Collins, Academy Award® winner Michael Williams (The Fog of War) and Rob Eric (Queer Eye) and Joel Chiodi along with Emmy nominated Berlanti Productions’ Greg Berlanti (Love, Simon, Arrow, Riverdale, The Flash) and Sarah Schechter (Supergirl, Riverdale), Emmy and Golden Globe® winner Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory, The Normal Heart, The Boys in the Band) and Emmy nominee Todd Spiewak (Special, Young Sheldon, A Kid Like Jake) from That’s Wonderful Productions, Jon Jashni (Lost in Space)
from Raintree Ventures, and Mike Darnell and Brooke Karzen, Warner Horizon Unscripted Television.
• EQUAL: EPISODE 2 dir. Kimberly Reed | USA | World Premiere The 1966 riot at San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria by a community of trans women, drag queens, and other gender-nonconforming folk frames the incredible stories of three trans people from the across the ages: Christine Jorgensen (Jamie Clayton), Lucy Hicks Anderson (Alexandra Grey), and Jack Starr (Theo Germaine).
• EQUAL: EPISODE 3 dir. Stephen Kijak | USA | World Premiere The intersection of Civil Rights & Gay Rights—struggles on a national, local, and personal level— we meet three very different activists: Lorraine Hansberry (Samira Wiley), Bayard Rustin (Keiynan Lonsdale), and José Sarria (Jai Rodriguez) and learn about the largest gay rights demonstration in history (and no, it’s not Stonewall…).
CHOSEN FAM: SEASON 1 dirs. Natalie Tsui & Lindsay Sunanda | USA | World Premiere Within the (very) underground Bay Area music scene, QTPOC indie band Chosen Fam is struggling make a name for themselves. When the band lands a gig opening for their heroes, singer-songwriter-bassist Cody, guitarist Maddox, drummer Dani, and band manager Evie start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, all while juggling romantic up-and-downs and an escalating rivalry with another queer group. This hilarious, charming, and quirky episodic will have you immediately hooked!
ANIMATION SHORTS — This year’s animation package features the best from around the world, including films which premiered at the Tribeca, Berlinale, and Locarno Film Festivals. We will take you through a young loner’s melodic and mystical urban journey, intimate and cross-generational conversations of vulnerability and shame, stories of legendary transgender spirits imbued in healing stones, buoyant scenes of voguing, and memorable live concert moments.
KAPAEMAHU dirs. Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson | USA In Hawaiian with English subtitles Legend tells us that long ago four spirits came to Hawaii and healed the people. Now all that remains are the stones, and the spirits if we remember them. From the makers of Leitis in Waiting (Frameline42) and Kumu Hina (Frameline38).
HOUSE OF [AS] dir. Leah Shore | USA | West Coast Premiere An homage to BALL/Vogue made for Adult Swim.
GENIUS LOCI dir. Adrien Mérigeau | France In French with English subtitles There is chaos everywhere: in her head and outside, in the big city. Things are taking on a life of their own. Young Reine is on the search, but she does not know what she is looking for. In delicate drawings and fluid animations, we see the world through her eyes and her perception becomes tangible.
THE SHAWL dir. Sara Kiener | USA An animated short film starring real-life lovers Shane O’Neill and Dusty Lynn Childers, who recount how their long-distance romance blossomed with the help of Stevie Nicks’ lip-synch videos.
CWCH DEILEN dir. Efa Blosse-Mason | UK | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Welsh with English subtitles Learning to love someone can be scary, but it can also lead to the most marvelous adventure. With a striking illustrative style, writer-director Efa Blosse-Mason tells the story of Heledd and Celyn who navigate the undiscovered and murky waters of entering a new relationship.
PURPLEBOY dir. Alexandre Siqueira | Portugal, France, Belgium Oscar is a child who sprouts in his parents’ garden. Nobody knows his biological sex but he claims the masculine gender. One day Oscar lives an extraordinary but painful adventure in an authoritarian and oppressive world. Will he manage to have the identity recognition he desires so much?
UMBILICAL dir. Danski Tang | USA, China In Mandarin with English subtitles An animated documentary exploring how a mother’s abusive relationship shaped the director’s own experiences in boarding school.
I BLEED (SANGRO) dirs. Tiago Minamisawa, Bruno H. Castro & Guto BR| Brazil | West Coast Premiere In Portuguese with English subtitles Inspired by a true story, I Bleed—winner of the Silver Hugo for Best Animated Short at the Chicago International Film Festival—is the intimate confession of a person living with HIV. Whirlwind of emotions. The first sensations. An animation film which tries to demystify issues that, to this day, persist in society’s imagination about the virus.
FLESH (CARNE) dir. Camila Kater | Brazil | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Portuguese with English subtitles Rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well done. Through intimate and personal stories, five women share their experiences in relation to the body, from childhood to old age.BI CANDY — Everyone’s favorite bisexual shorts program has returned! Follow these daring non- monosexuals as they look for love in the most unlikely times and places— from funerals to musicals to state-mandated lockdowns. These shorts are a celebration of how bisexual attraction, distraction, and shenanigans can defy all odds. Curated by Allegra and April Hirschman.
BING! BANG! BI! dir. Jessica Huras | Canada | World Premiere Bing! Bang! Bi! is a comedy about a struggling actor who takes a stance on her bisexuality at an inopportune moment.
SO LONG, PARIS! dir. Charles Dudoignon-Valade | France | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In French with English subtitles A bittersweet comedy about a fanciful and rebellious pre-teen who ends up accepting her parents’ divorce after an unexpected encounter with her dad’s male lover. Co-starring Arthur Igual (4 Days in France, Frameline42).
A SINGLE EVENING dir. Ashlei Hardenburg-Cartagena | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere A Single Evening is a queer musical short film about dating and loneliness. Minnie, an annoyed and single bisexual woman, navigates her way through yet another lonely night while personified dating apps serenade her with songs about her inability to find love.
TENDER dir. Felicia Pride |USA After an unexpected one night stand, two women at very different stages of their lives, share an even more intimate morning after.
HEY STRANGER dir. Andrew Fuchs | USA |West Coast Premiere Grace is a “normal” woman, or at least that’s what her partner Jack would like her to be. After he confides his fear that she might be attracted to women, Grace is unable to reassure him because,
frankly, she doesn’t know. A rendezvous with a beautiful stranger shows Grace that a part of
herself she’s long kept hidden might not be as scary as it seemed.
SWIPE UP, VIVIAN! dir. Hannah Welever | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In this inventive sci-fi romcom, two agoraphobic women find love via a virtual dating app.
THE MISTRESS (LA AMANTE) dir. Pati Cruz | Puerto Rico | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Spanish with English subtitles During her husband’s funeral, Maritere receives an unexpected visit from Angela, whose presence re-awakens feelings from the past.ENBY LOVE: NON-BINARY SHORTS — Welcome the genderqueers, genderfluids, and the in-betweens to Frameline’s first non-binary shorts program! Featuring claymation, an office lottery pool gone wrong, a trans-national fencing team, an androgynous queer utopia, an impromptu lesson in gender neutral pronouns at the gynecologist, a trans/NB backpacking trip, and growing mermaid scales, these films are a reminder that we all define our non-binary genders—and therefore our lives—for ourselves.
EYES dir. Lily Ash Sakula | UK | North American Premiere This mix-media animation about moving though the world when your gender doesn’t conform to the binary explores the tension between being looked at and being seen, through a day in the life of Jig. A collaboration with the young people of Project Indigo, a queer youth group based in Hackney.
2 DOLLARS dir. Robin Cloud | USA | West Coast Premiere
PARRY RIPOSTE dir. Goldie Micomonaco | Canada | World Premiere
COUSIN JOHN – THE ARRIVAL dir. Tom C J Brown | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
THESE THEMS: EPISODE 1 dir. Jett Garrison | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
VENTURE OUT dirs. Jamie DiNicola, Palmer Morse, & Matt Mikkelsen | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Venture Out is a story of overcoming odds, the power of resilience, and ultimately, the ever- lasting effects of LGBTQ+ community building. In sharing Perry Cohen’s story, we get a glimpse into the healing qualities of nature and life-saving community bonds that are being forged as a result of Cohen’s work with The Venture Out Project, a nonprofit that brings LGBTQ+ people together outdoors on wilderness trips.
Syd is a Black, queer, masculine of center artist working a soul sucking office job to pay the bills.
Syd’s coworkers are ignorant, their boss is a performative #bosslady feminist, and they just got
slammed with more work and no raise. So when a lottery loving coworker convinces them to
enter yet another office pool, Syd cashes in on leaving the office life a little too soon.
The trans-national fencing team arrives to practice to find their studio destroyed. They must fix
the studio, go to competition, and process their trauma—all while trying to make space for
themselves in the sport of fencing.
While Cousin John is away in the City, the residents of The Carrington House Hotel in upstate New
York yearn for his return in this film posing as a music video.
In Episode 1 of These Thems, a queer comedy series that dives head first into the NYC
lesbian/GNC scene, an impromptu lesson in gender neutral pronouns comes about during a trip
to the gynecologist.
• MY BROTHER IS A MERMAID dir. Alfie Dale | UK | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere My Brother Is a Mermaid is a social realist fairytale about a trans-feminine teenager, as seen through the eyes of their 7-year-old brother. Set in a desolate and prejudiced coastal town, the film examines how a child’s unconditional love can be a powerful and disruptive force for good.
ENCOUNTERS: INTERNATIONAL SHORT DRAMAS — An encounter can be sexy, heartbreaking or dangerous, anywhere in the world. These compelling international dramas showcase the best in global LGBTQ+ storytelling. Whether a fight on a Parisian rooftop or a pointed Moscow farewell; through the experiences of a trans kid in Argentina, a baby dyke in Denmark, or a gay Afghan asylum seeker…these touching films will expand your world.
TRIBUNAL dir. Mason Fleming | Australia | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In English and Persian with English subtitles A gay Afghan asylum seeker facing a hostile tribunal finds that his fate is in the hands of his interpreter, in this darkly comic drama inspired by actual Australian court proceedings.
BABYDYKE (BABYLEBBE) dir. Tone Ottilie | Denmark | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Danish with English subtitles When teenager Frede begs her older sister to let her come along to a queer club, she has a clear agenda: she wants to impress the girl she’s crushing on. Being labeled by the older girls as “babydyke” isn’t going to help, in what will be a pivotal night of growing up.
SOUP (СУП) dir. Inga Sukhorukova | Russia | North American Premiere In Russian with English subtitles Sometimes a bowl of soup is more than a bowl of soup. Special Jury Mention at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
THE EDGE (4 FROMAGES) dir. David Chausse | France | International Premiere In French with English subtitles A pizza delivery snafu throws together two incompatible people trapped on a Paris rooftop.
ENCOUNTER (ENCUENTRO) dir. Ivan Löwenberg | Mexico | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Spanish with English subtitles Arcelia and Lulu have been together for 40 years. Across town, teenager Julian is beginning to explore his identity. Their lives are about to intersect.
THE NAME OF THE SON (EL NOMBRE DEL HIJO) dir. Martina Matzkin | Argentina In Spanish with English subtitles A trans son and his father’s search for connection. Winner of both the Crystal Bear and Special Prize for Best Short Film from the Generation Kplus International Jury at this year’s Berlinale.HOMEGROWN — The Bay Area is known for many things, not the least of which being a proud and vibrant filmmaking community. These queer homegrown shorts touch on every area of Bay Area life, including coming of age in a gentrifying Oakland, caring for partners in their final moments, and creating safe spaces for all. This mix of fiction and doc films highlights the best in the Bay today.
• WHEN I WRITE IT dirs. Nico Opper & Shannon St. Aubin | USA | West Coast Premiere Two Oakland teens explore what it means to be young, Black, and committed to making art in their rapidly changing city.
THAT WAS RAY dirs. Jordan Gorman, Brenten Brandenburg & Kaustubh Singh | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere That Was Ray chronicles the life of Reverend Raymond “Ray” Broshears, who was at the forefront of the San Francisco gay rights movement in the late 1960s-to-mid-70s. While he preached peace and acceptance, he also founded a militant group The Lavender Panthers, which curbed hate crimes with the threat of violence.
CARVING SPACE dir. Annie Dean-Ganek | USA Unity Skateboarding, founded in 2016 by Jeffrey Cheung and his partner Gabriel Ramirez in Oakland, seeks to create a safe space and visibility for queer skateboarders within the hetero- masculine mainstream skateboarding culture. Carving Space follows Unity and affiliated queer skate activists—including 2019 US Olympic Skateboarding team member, Leo Baker—as they provide spaces and voices to the often-overlooked queer community.
AYE, BOY dir. My-Hanh Lac | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In this coming-of-age story inspired by true events, Mads, an exuberant tomboy in the 1990s, struggles to balance relationships with friends, family, and her own sexuality.
ELEVEN WEEKS dir. Anna Kuperberg | USA | World Premiere Carla Jean Johnson accepts her fast and aggressive cancer diagnosis with clarity and grace while photographer Anna Kuperberg, her long-time wife, documents their final days and weeks together. With mesmerizing footage and intimate recordings of the couple’s final conversations, Eleven Weeks is a story more about love than death.
I’LL CRY TOMORROW dir. Brett Thomas | USA | North American Premiere Pieced together through self-shot found footage (which the director found under his bed), I’ll Cry Tomorrow is a personal poem about being 21 in San Francisco in 1986 during the AIDS pandemic.REALNESS & REVELATIONS — Queer and trans people of color take center stage! Meet some of the LGBTQ+ community in Ivory Coast. In Puerto Rico, two women rekindle an historic romance. In the US, two Asian American women share awkward high school stories, and a young man heads to a mysterious boat party. In Canada, two siblings embark on an adventure. And in India, a trans woman wishes to become a star.
BUCK dirs. Elegance Bratton & Jovan James | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Caught in the midst of a depressive fugue Lynn turns to debauchery to ease his troubled soul only to discover that happiness is a complicated goal. Co-directed by Elegance Bratton (Pier Kids, Frameline44; Walk for Me, Frameline41). Recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund.
FLOOD dir. Joseph Amenta | Canada | International Premiere A queer teenage boy takes his younger sister on an adventure wearing face paint and glitter on her tenth birthday. These colorful bandits move through their environments experiencing small joys while turning a blind eye to reality. It isn’t until their celebration is interrupted that the cost of their freedom is exposed.
DARLING dir. Saim Sadiq | Pakistan, USA In Urdu with English subtitles As a new show is introduced at an erotic dance theatre in Lahore, a sacrificial goat goes missing, a dreamy trans girl desperately tries to become a star and a naive young boy falls in love. Winner of
the Horizons Award at last year’s Venice Film Festival and a Special Jury Award at the SXSW Film
THE ALTERNATIVE dir. Adesua Okosun | Nigeria, Côte d’lvoire | International Premiere The story follows three people of the LGBTQ+ community, a queer female, a transgender male and a transgender female, living in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Each character takes us on a journey into their world, and shows us how Ivory Coast is trying to change the narrative of the LGBTQ+ community, changing the narrative about West Africa and continuously educating its people about the community within Africa.
THE MISTRESS (LA AMANTE) dir. Pati Cruz | Puerto Rico | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Spanish with English subtitles During her husband’s funeral, Maritere receives an unexpected visit from Angela, whose presence re-awakens feelings from the past.
WERE YOU GAY IN HIGH SCHOOL? dir. Niki Ang | USA Two queer women recall their awkward, closeted high school days of kissing boys and straight-girl crushes. Recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund.UP CLOSE & PERSONAL — Queer communities and collectives are at the forefront of Frameline44’s program of exquisite documentary shorts from across the globe. Here, you’ll find this year’s Teddy Award winner, trans Indigenous musicians, art therapy, animated body positivity, found footage tributes to a generation lost to AIDS, scenic lesbian road trips, and a pink haunted house collide.
PLAYBACK (PLAYBACK. ENSAYO DE UNA DESPEDIDA) dir. Agustina Comedi | Argentina | US Premiere In Spanish with English subtitles Argentina in the late 1980s: Catholic, conservative, and shaped by a military dictatorship. “La Delpi,” the sole survivor of a group of transgender women and drag queens, talks about how their shows in basement theatres galvanized the community and helped them in their struggle against AIDS and police violence. How they healed their wounds with lipstick, playback performances, and improvised stage outfits. And how they invented happy endings for those who were to die. A farewell letter compiled from VHS memories. Winner of the Teddy Award at this year’s Berlinale.
JESSE JAMS dir. Trevor Anderson | Canada | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere A young Indigenous trans musician and his rock band bring mumble punk to the Interstellar Rodeo. A rock ‘n’ roll survival story of a different stripe from director Trevor Anderson (Docking, Frameline43; The Little Deputy, Frameline39)
SYLVIE dir. Clem Hue | France | West Coast Premiere In French and Spanish with English subtitles In the suburbs of Toulouse, a group of queers and migrants are squatting in a mysterious pink house. They find traces of the previous occupants and try to live with the memory of a crime in this haunting and poignant film.
FLESH (CARNE) dir. Camila Kater | Brazil | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Portuguese with English subtitles Rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well done. Through intimate and personal stories, five women share their experiences in relation to the body, from childhood to old age.
INFERNO dir. Andrew R. Blackman | New Zealand | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Featuring breathtaking set pieces, this immersive documentary portrait delves into the fantastical world of artist Gui Taccetti, whose deeply personal work channels the anxiety of growing up gay in staunchly Catholic Brazil.
BREAKWATER (QUEBRAMAR) dir. Cris Lyra | Brazil | West Coast Premiere In Portuguese with English subtitles With touches of Barbara Hammer, the collectively-made Breakwater follows a group of friends from São Paulo as they go on a road trip to a remote beach. While they wait for the New Year’s Eve, they build a safe and pleasant environment through music and friendship.Frameline44 Festival Sponsors Frameline44 is made possible with generous support from returning Premier Partners GILEAD SCIENCES, INC., BANK OF AMERICA, SHOWTIME®, MONIKER, ALASKA AIRLINES, and HILTON SAN FRANCISCO UNION SQUARE. Additional funding is provided by WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION, AT&T, WARNERMEDIA, BANK OF THE WEST, ARNOLD & PORTER, BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES, and SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY.###Frameline’s mission is to change the world through the power of queer cinema. As a media arts nonprofit, Frameline’s integrated programs connect filmmakers and audiences in San Francisco and around the globe. Frameline provides critical funding for emerging LGBTQ+ filmmakers, reaches hundreds of thousands with a collection of over 250 films distributed worldwide, inspires thousands of students in schools across the nation with free films and curricula through Youth in Motion, and creates an international stage for the world’s best LGBTQ+ film through the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival and additional year-round screenings and cinematic events. For more information on Frameline, visit www.frameline.org.