Today, Frameline—the world’s longest-running and largest showcase of queer cinema—announced that the Frameline44 Festival, previously postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held virtually September 17–27, 2020. Following Frameline’s successful Pride Showcase, the Frameline44 Festival will be more than double the size of the June event, featuring 35+ films spanning narratives, documentaries, and shorts. Additional programming highlights of the 11-day event include panels and Q&A’s with filmmakers and celebrity guests, the Frameline Award Night (Saturday, September 26), a silent auction, and more.
“The success of our virtual Pride Showcase showed that we could translate the Frameline Festival experience to a digital format,” said James Woolley, Frameline Executive Director. “We’re thrilled to finally announce the new dates for the full Frameline44 Festival and have the opportunity to celebrate the power of queer cinema with not one, but two virtual events this year.”
“We can’t wait to announce the exciting roster of films that will make up the long-awaited Frameline44 Festival,” said Paul Struthers, Director of Exhibition and Programming. “The lineup will include thirty features and six shorts programs, showcasing the best new queer films from around the world.”
Viewers from across California will be able to attend the virtual event. The full lineup of films will be announced on Tuesday, August 25, and tickets will also be available that day at www.frameline.org.
Frameline44 Festival SponsorsFrameline44 is made possible with generous support from returning Premier Partners GILEAD SCIENCES, INC., SHOWTIME®, BANK OF AMERICA, and MONIKER. Additional funding is provided by THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES, WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION, AT&T, WARNERMEDIA, ARNOLD & PORTER, BANK OF THE WEST, BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES, and SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY.
About Frameline 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.
Within two weeks of David France reading an article in The New Yorker about the persecution of LGBTQ people in Chechnya, he was on a plane headed to Moscow.
It’s there that he first met the men and women who are featured in his new documentary “Welcome to Chechnya,” which premieres Tuesday on HBO. Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the autonomous region of Russia, enacted a campaign in 2017 to find, imprison, torture and sometimes kill LGBTQ Chechens. Many who survived imprisonment have fled to Moscow, where they live in a safe house while seeking political asylum in other countries.
“What I learned from that story in The New Yorker was that the crimes that had been exposed earlier in the year hadn’t stopped, that nothing about the exposure in the world media, nothing about the expressions of outrage from European leaders, nothing about the meek, near silence from the Trump administration had done anything to slow the campaign that was being carried out by the leadership in Chechnya against the LGBTQ community,” France tells Variety. “And in fact, the Russian LGBTQ movement was left all alone to try and fashion some sort of response to what was going on there. And what they had put together was a search and rescue operation, like something that you would imagine in a World War II movie. And I was outraged that they were being forced to do this all on their own, and that the world wasn’t coming to pay attention to and put pressure against the Chechen government.”
Among those in the film are David Isteev, who leads the rescue missions through the Russian LGBT Network and Olga Baranova, director of the Moscow Community Center for LGBT+ Initiatives. And then there’s Maxim Lapunov, who came to Moscow after being released from prison, where he was tortured for several weeks in 2017. Chechen authorities let him go because he is not ethnically Chechen.
“I was told that Maxim had agreed, even on the first conversation, to allow me to film him and that he was a charismatic character, a person who is an entertainer,” France said. “He made it his job to bring joy to people. When he was captured on the streets of Grozny, he had been selling balloon art. He was twisting balloons into these elaborate sculptures and selling them to people in front of the main mall in Grozny, Chechnya. That’s where he was seized by the security agents. So when I met him, he was an open, generous figure who allowed me to share his journey with him in the most profound way.”
In order to hide the identities of the residents in the safe house, France used technology to replace their faces with those of 22 LGBTQ activists in New York City. “What we did was to borrow from the world of deepfakes and find this social justice use for it,” he explained. “This technology allowed us to just stretch the faces…over the images that I shot in the film. The face moves exactly the same way. It smiles, it cries in exactly the same way, but it is somebody else’s face.”
While Lapunov’s identity is kept secret this way through most of the film, his real face is shown when he goes to court to sue the Russian government for failing to protect him from what his lawyers argue was unlawful arrest, detention, torture and discrimination.
There are many people not identified at all, but the doc includes disturbing and graphic footage of them being beaten and tortured. “When we learned of that footage, it was shocking,” France said. “It’s footage that was shot as trophies by the people who committed those crimes. They were keepsakes from these horrible events, and they were also deliverables. They were sent over WhatsApp groups up the chain of command, so that Ramzan Kadyrov would know that his orders are being carried out.”
“And when you saw the footage, I realized that I wanted to take that away from them, and turn their trophies into evidence,” he continued. “This is documented by the people who did it themselves, and those same people have denied in public forum that anything like this is happening there. And yet, here is proof.”
France spent about 18 months filming in Moscow and Chechnya. “Here is an ongoing crime against humanity that has not generated the outrage that it deserves,” said France, who earned an Oscar nomination for “How to Survive a Plague,” his 2012 directing debut about AIDS activists in the early days of the epidemic. “Without that outrage, it will keep going. But I also want people to know what the conditions are for LGBTQ people around the globe…There are still 70 countries where it’s a crime to be queer, and eight of those countries, and several other semi-autonomous regions like Chechnya is, consider it a crime worthy of the death penalty.”
As international borders are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the activists in Moscow need even more help. “What was a very expensive proposition has become even more expensive. Keeping people in hiding, taking care of people, keeping them safe and fed, and with medical care for this long extended period, while they’re still struggling with foreign governments to try to keep open that back door to humanitarian parole visas,” France said. “And also to support Maxim Lapunov and his family in their lawsuit. Because they are still in safe houses, and they are still pursuing this suit…There’s no telling how long that battle’s going to last, but they’re in it for the long run.”
Lapunov was able to feel some of that support when he traveled to the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year for the doc’s premiere. “It made him so happy,” France said. “To feel the audience responding to his story gave him confidence that the sacrifices that he’s made, and he’s going through, have a purpose.”
Frameline, the world’s longest-running and largest showcase of queer cinema, is proud to announce the full program for the Frameline44 Pride Showcase taking place Thursday, June 25 through Sunday, June 28, 2020 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of San Francisco Pride. Presented in partnership with the Castro Theatre, this four-day virtual event features 12 world premieres, one international premiere, three North American Premieres, and two U.S. premieres, including new narrative features, documentaries, and shorts programs, along with special live and pre-recorded intros, Q&A’s, and other unique programming to evoke the live festival experience Frameline is known for. Tickets ($8–$10 per screening) and passes (starting at $250, and valid all year) are available now online at frameline.org. To ensure maximum flexibility for patrons, ticket holders will be able to tune in live to each screening or access any film at any time during the four-day event.
“Pride Month has begun with riots and protests in the face of systemic injustice. The LGBTQ+ community is no stranger to these issues and we honor and support all those raising their voices in dissent and demanding equality,” said James Woolley, Frameline Executive Director. “Frameline has featured inspiring, thought-provoking cinema for more than 40 years and created a festival atmosphere that fosters community engagement and discourse, and we are proud to continue this tradition with our Pride Showcase.” “Frameline believes that the courageous act of sharing your story can change the world. We are honored to present a lineup of films during the Pride Showcase that upholds our mission of providing a platform to showcase diverse voices,” said Paul Struthers, Frameline’s Director of Exhibition & Programming. “Two presentations highlight this in especially timely ways: Sue Williams’ ‘Denise Ho-Becoming the Song,’ which chronicles the iconic musician’s career from pop star to activist in Hong Kong and the power of art to address social unrest; and SHOWTIME’S ‘The Chi,’ where some of our field’s most creative and talented Black artists are not only featured but leading the production—including creator and executive producer Lena Waithe and writer Marcus Gardley. It’s a portrait of a community—Chicago’s South Side—and exemplifies that Black stories matter. We are humbled by the opportunity we have to engage, act, and grow with our audiences this month.”
Highlights include the world premiere of Sue Williams’ documentary DENISE HO – BECOMING THE SONG; Jessica Swale’s SUMMERLAND featuring Gemma Arterton, who will be participating in a live Q&A following the film; Thom Fitzgerald’s valentine to San Francisco STAGE MOTHER, which will also include a live Q&A with Jacki Weaver, Mya Taylor, and Jackie Beat who star in the film; a special presentation of Jen Rainin’s world premiere documentary AHEAD OF THE CURVE at Concord’s West Wind Drive-In Theater; Isabel Sandoval’s LINGUA FRANCA and P. David Ebersole’s and Todd Hughes’ HOUSE OF CARDIN, which played at the Venice Film Festival; Ray Yeung’s TWILIGHT’S KISS (SUK SUK) and David France’s WELCOME TO CHECHNYA, which played at the Berlin International Film Festival; and perennial favorites “Fun in Boys Shorts,” “Fun in Girls Shorts,” and “Transtastic” short film programs, which will include the world premiere of ISLAND QUEEN. Directed by Zackary Grady and Jenn Harris, this short features Rachel Dratch and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who will be featured in a Q&A following its premiere.The Pride Showcase kicks off Frameline’s 2020 festival offerings and allows the organization to continue its tradition of celebrating Pride each June while prioritizing the safety of its audience, staff, filmmakers and community partners. As previously announced, the larger Frameline44 Festival has been postponed until the fall.
Feature FilmsBREAKING FAST Directed by Mike Mosallam Cultures clash and passion blooms in this lively and insightful romantic comedy. Mo, a gay Muslim in West Hollywood, is suddenly single and searching for love in a sea of partying and hook-ups. When a new romance blooms, Mo carefully navigates through an exciting and complicated new reality. This funny, thoughtful film tackles issues of faith, friendship, and sexuality with upbeat energy and a big heart.
EMA Directed by Pablo Larraín In the latest from visionary filmmaker Pablo Larraín, director of Jackie and producer of the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, newcomer Mariana Di Girolamo electrifies the screen in the titular role of Ema, a young, unhinged, bisexual dancer who embarks on a difficult journey to regain custody of her adopted son. This dazzling, uniquely cinematic experience, which left audiences spellbound at both the Venice and Sundance Film Festivals, is one that will linger long after the credits roll.
LINGUA FRANCA Directed by Isabel Sandoval When Olivia (Isabel Sandoval), an undocumented Filipina trans woman in Brooklyn, becomes the caregiver for an elderly Jewish woman (Lynn Cohen, Sex and the City’s Magda), the last thing she suspects is for romantic and sexual tensions to arise with Olga’s black sheep grandson (The Witcher’s Eamon Farren). A timely and heartfelt tale of lost souls finding each other, with chilling reminders of ICE raids and deportations looming in the background
STAGE MOTHER Directed by Thom Fitzgerald If you cross Sister Act with Sordid Lives and add a dash of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, you’d wind up with Stage Mother. Two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver plays Maybelline, a Texas church choir director whose life is turned upside down when she unexpectedly inherits a San Francisco drag club from her estranged son. Lucy Liu, Adrian Grenier, and Tangerine’s Mya Taylor also star in this moving and quick-witted valentine to San Francisco.
SUMMERLAND Directed by Jessica Swale During the throes of the London Blitz, solitary writer Alice (Gemma Arterton, Vita & Virginia) is irritated to learn that a child evacuee, Frank, is to be placed in her cliffside cottage. But his gentle openness sends her ruminating on a passionate love story that Alice buried long ago; as she excavates these memories, the pair form an unlikely bond. This sweeping drama, steeped in folklore and the power of memory, proves love just might come back around. *Please note that SUMMERLAND will only be available to view June 27–28.
TAHARA Directed by Olivia Peace While attending the funeral for one of her classmates, sheepish Carrie (Madeline Grey DeFreece) unexpectedly sparks her queer awakening after a practice lip-lock with her horny and hetero Hebrew-school bestie Hannah (Rachel Sennott). Over the course of the day, the two teens wrestle with their complicated feelings of mortality, social ranking, and desire in director Olivia Peace’s uproarious and incisive generational debut.
TWILIGHT’S KISS (SUK SUK) (North American Premiere) Directed by Ray Yeung The challenges facing aging gay men are dramatized with great warmth in this Hong Kong-set portrait of a new love affair from director Ray Yeung (Front Cover, Frameline40). Each a father to adult children, Hoi and Pak have both acknowledged their sexuality late in life. As their developing affection and camaraderie potentially turn to love, the question of what each man is willing to give up becomes a pressing matter.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE (World Premiere) Directed by Jen Rainin From its start in 1990, Curve magazine was a visionary and unapologetic celebration of lesbian life from cover to cover. Facing the magazine’s possible demise in 2019, director Jen Rainin and Curve founder Franco Stevens explore contemporary questions of lesbian visibility and legacy through interviews with contemporary LGBTQ+ tastemakers, “celesbians” including Melissa Etheridge, Jewelle Gomez, Denice Frohman, Kate Kendell, and Lea DeLaria, along with rich archival footage recounting the formation of a lesbian cultural institution.In addition to the online presentation, a special screening of AHEAD OF THE CURVE will take place at the West Wind Solano Drive-In Theater in Concord, California (1611 Solano Way, Concord, CA) on Saturday, June 27 at 9 p.m. Tickets range in price from $23–$25 and are available now.
DENISE HO – BECOMING THE SONG (World Premiere) Directed by Sue Williams At the peak of her musical career, Hong Kong’s Cantopop diva Denise Ho was performing in lavish costumes at packed stadium concerts. Her eccentric performances garnered audiences, but it was her brave lyrics that resonated with a city in turmoil. In Sue Williams’ uplifting documentary, the filmmaker chronicles Ho’s career from pop star to activist and the parallels to Hong Kong, a city in constant transformation.
HOUSE OF CARDIN Directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes In a film as bubbly and vibrant as its subject at hand, filmmaking duo P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes (Mansfield 66/67) shift their cameras toward self-made fashion genius Pierre Cardin. Including interviews with Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone, Dionne Warwick, and Jean-Paul Gaultier, House of Cardin celebrates the designer’s influential career, including his pioneering attempts to diversify the catwalks of Paris with women of color modeling his signature looks.
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA Directed by David France A prizewinner at both the Sundance and Berlin International Film Festivals this year, the latest documentary feature from Oscar-nominated director David France (How to Survive a Plague) highlights an undercover team of LGBTQ+ activists in Russia, desperately trying to save their vulnerable queer community from further persecution and even death as homophobic attacks surge in Chechnya.
THE CHI Episode 302 “Brewfurd” Written by Oakland native Marcus Gardley, Directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green Frameline is thrilled to present a very special sneak preview episode from the upcoming season of the SHOWTIME® series THE CHI in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride month. Produced entirely in its namesake city, season three of THE CHI finds a maturing Emmett (Jacob Latimore) trying to alter the way his mother Jada (Yolonda Ross) sees him, going from unmotivated teen to full-fledged businessman. Created and executive produced by Emmy® winner Lena Waithe, the hit drama series is executive produced by Justin Hillian, Aaron Kaplan, Common, Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone of Freedom Road Productions, Rick Famuyiwa and Jet Wilkinson. THE CHI is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios.
PARADE Directed by Ronald Chase This film of the very first Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco was believed to be lost for almost 50 years. This was actually the first “official” gay parade, organized with permits by the city. The very first parade was held a year after the Stonewall Riots (1970) on Folsom Street, organized by the rock group Black Sabbath as a promotional event for a number of emerging bands. This parade followed a year later (1971), with a very small attendance and a lot of very brave people. Notice the turnout was sparse (only two blocks of well-wishers turned out to watch), but the atmosphere was electric. Chase felt that gay people should make their own case to the public, and this film was made in hope it might be helpful in changing attitudes in the straight community. This short is presented in partnership with SF PRIDE in celebration of their 50th anniversary.
TRANSTASTIC SHORT FILMSMAKING SAMANTHA — Directed by T Cooper
KAPAEMAHU — Directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson
DANCE, DANCE, EVOLUTION — Directed by Jules Rosskam
BIND — Directed by Emory Chao Johnson
WISHES — Directed by Amy Jenkins
THE NAME OF THE SON — Directed by Martina Matzkin — (North American Premiere)
DUNGAREES — Directed by Abel Rubinstein — (North American Premiere)
SHÉÁR AVORY: TO BE CONTINUED — Directed by Abram Cerda
FUN IN BOYS SHORTSMATT & DAN: GRINDR — Directed by Will Gordh (World Premiere)
WHEN IN ROME (PAESE CHE VAI) — Directed by Luca Padrini (World Premiere) GO GO, BOY! — Directed by Oriana Oppice
PETE CAN’T PLAY BASKETBALL — Directed by Nicolas Borenstein (World Premiere)
ABOUT A SHORT FILM — Directed by Kevin YeeBLOW JOB — Directed by Jeffrey Braverman (World Premiere
THE DICK APPOINTMENT — Directed by Mike Roma (World Premiere)
SHORT CALF MUSCLE — Directed by Victoria Warmerdam
THE SHAWL — Directed by Sara Kiener
FUN IN GIRLS SHORTS
WERE YOU GAY IN HIGH SCHOOL? — Directed by Niki Ang (World Premiere)
I KNOW HER — Directed by Fawzia Mirza
DINETTE SEASON 2 EPISODE 1 & 2 — Directed by Shaina Feinberg (World Premiere)
PEACH — Directed by Sophie Saville & Rowan Devereux (International Premiere)
THE SECRET GARDENER — Directed by Lorena Russi (U.S. Premiere)
BREAK IN — Directed by Alyssa Lerner (World Premiere)
CC DANCES THE GO-GO — Directed by Erin C. Buckley (World Premiere)6:23AM — Directed by Geoffrey Breton (U.S. Premiere)
Pride Showcase Sponsors The Frameline44 Pride Showcase is made possible with generous support from returning Premier Partners GILEAD SCIENCES, INC., SHOWTIME®, BANK OF AMERICA, and MONIKER. Additional funding is provided by THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES, WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION, AT&T,WARNERMEDIA, ARNOLD & PORTER, BANK OF THE WEST, BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES, and SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY.
About FramelineFrameline’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.
Movie theaters in California counties with regional variances can begin opening later this week if they limit theater capacity to 25% or no more than 100 attendees, under state guidance released Monday.
While less-populated counties in more rural parts of the state may take this step, urban counties in the Bay Area are unlikely to open theaters soon.
Movie theaters are part of a long list of other businesses sectors that can start reopening as early as Friday as the nation’s most populous state relaxes its stay-at-home order and moves into what Gov. Gavin Newsom has called Stage 3.
Counties that meet certain metrics, including number of cases, positive test rates and testing and tracing capabilities, can move into Stage 3.
The state recommends movie theaters implement reservation systems, assign arrival times and keep some seats empty, allowing movie-goers to maintain 6 feet (2 meters) of distance from other groups. Movie-goers should, at a minimum, wear face coverings when entering and exiting the theater or buying concessions, the state guidance says.
The state also suggests theaters use disposable or washable seat covers that are easy to clean and prop open doors so people don’t have to touch handles.
Francis Lee, the director of the film “God’s Own Country,” called for a boycott of Amazon after the company appeared to censor gay sex scenes from his 2017 film, stating that the version available on the platform is not the movie he “intended or made.”
“Dear friends in USA, God’s Own Country appears to have been censored on @PrimeVideo (Amazon Prime),” Lee tweetedWednesday. “Until this is investigated please do not rent or buy on Amazon Prime.”
A British drama starring Josh O’Connor and Alec Secăreanu, “God’s Own Country” explores the relationship between a sheep farmer and a Romanian migrant worker. While it received widespread acclaim and was even heralded as a “Yorkshire Brokeback Mountain,” according to critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the film was banned in some Arab and Eastern European countries for its sex scenes.
Amazon did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment regarding its alleged censorship of the movie, however, reviews of the movie on its site appeared to corroborate Lee’s claim that those who watch the movie via Amazon Prime are presented with an abridged version.
“The movie itself is a good story; I am just disappointed in Amazon Prime for editing out certain scenes,” read one review dated May 16. “Shame on you for censorship.”
“This version on Amazon Prime is missing the graphic scenes, which really takes away from the film,” read another, dated May 6.
This latest accusation of censorship coincides with a long-standing charge against Amazon for offering anti-LGBTQ content on its platforms. Last year, the company removed books about conversion therapy, which refers to efforts to change an LGBTQ person’s gender identity or sexual orientation and has been condemned by nearly every major health association, in response to global activism. And in 2018, the company removed a gay conversion therapy app from a religious group called Living Hope Ministries, which included anti-gay podcasts, articles and devotionals, following complaints from LGBTQ advocacy organizations.
“Sis, you love baseball like a poet,” my late brother teased me one evening, “don’t even try to get what a foul ball is!”
He was spot on. I couldn’t tell you what a foul ball is if my life depended on it. Yet, baseball is one of the things I miss most during the pandemic. What is spring without opening day? Is anything more isolating than not being able to cheer on your home team (go Nats!)?
Our country had baseball even during World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt believed baseball was essential for the nation’s morale during the war. “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going,” FDR said.
Thankfully, in our COVID-19 era, “A Secret Love,” a new documentary streaming on Netflix, provides hope for we who are baseball deprived. The touching doc is a fab love story involving queer history, aging and baseball. Watching it would make even Attila the Hun choke up.
“A Secret Love” is the tale of a lesbian couple who were together for 72 years — Terry Donahue, a player in the 1940s with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and Pat Henschel. Because of homophobia, they were in the closet for decades. They presented themselves as “good friends” or “cousins” to everyone (including their families) except a few queer friends. The couple, native Canadians who lived for many years in Chicago, didn’t come out until they were in their 80s.
The league was created so women could play baseball while many of the male baseball players were away during World War II. Donahue played catcher for the Peoria Redwings for four seasons. After she and Herschel met in Canada, they moved to Chicago. Donahue and other players in the league were the inspiration for the movie “A League of Their Own.”
“A Secret Love,” directed by Chris Bolan, Donahue’s great-nephew, isn’t about baseball statistics or record-setting home runs. But it makes you feel the grit of the game – of baseball and of keeping your sexuality hidden from the grip of homophobia. During one game, Donahue recalls, her eyebrow got cut. She refused to stop playing and have stitches put in it. Donahue put a Band-Aid on it and kept going.
The movie “A League of Their Own” presents as hetero. Yet, I couldn’t help wondering if some of the characters in the film were queer. Donahue and Herschel make it clear that there were lesbians in the league. The league officials, they say, wanted the players to be perceived as traditionally feminine and hetero. They had to wear skirts and go to charm school. “They wanted us to look like ladies and play ball like men,” Donahue says.
Even with marriage equality, it’s still not easy to be queer – especially, for people of color and folks who are trans. In more than half of the states in the United States according to the Human Rights Campaign, you can be fired from your job if you’re LGBTQ. The Trump administration is far from being an ally to the queer community.
Yet, it’s hard to imagine how much discrimination and prejudice LGBTQ people encountered until recently. In “A Secret Love,” Donahue and Herschel (and their queer friends who are interviewed) make the homophobia they experienced in the 1940s, 50s and 60s up close and personal. You could be arrested if you wore open-fly pants, Herschel says. If you were arrested during a gay bar raid, your name could be put in the newspaper and you’d lose your job.
Despite the homophobia and the struggles of getting older (Donahue had Parkinson’s disease), the couple endured. They ran a design firm, formed a chosen family with their queer friends and got married late in their lives. In sickness and in health, for better and for worse, they were a league of their own.
Frameline Executive Director James Woolley announced the postponement of the Frameline44 San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival.
Originally set to take place June 18-28, 2020, the film festival is now scheduled to take place in Fall 2020. In addition, Frameline will be expanding film offerings throughout the year and is working on innovative opportunities to still celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June.
“During this challenging and uncertain time, organizations have to make tough decisions about whether or not to proceed with planned events,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “While it isn’t an easy decision to postpone, I’m glad that Frameline is committed to finding ways to continue supporting filmmakers and artists who offer diverse points of view and share their stories of overcoming obstacles.”
“Since its inception in 1977, Frameline has welcomed audiences to celebrate the power of queer cinema alongside Pride celebrations in the month of June. While Pride month remains the spiritual home of the festival, we look forward to bringing the community together at a later date, to connect with the most vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ storytellers in film,” said Woolley. “The safety of our beloved audience, staff, filmmakers and community partners must come first.”
Frameline2020 Fund Frameline has also launched the Frameline2020 Fund, with a goal of raising $250,000. With the unprecedented emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frameline is faced with a rapid reduction in cash flow. From the beginning of March, usually one of the highest earning months of the year, income has been interrupted and delayed. With the postponement of the Festival to Fall, Frameline will not likely see a return of stable income for months. Considerable measures to cut expenses have been taken during this time, but individual donor support is needed in order for Frameline to provide valuable programs and services as well as continue paying staff. Your donation to the Frameline2020 Fund is vital to our efforts in continuing to support filmmakers and produce our highly anticipated 2020 Festival. Please consider giving a tax-fee donatation below!
Reading Cinemas celebrates an iconic director, the one and only Martin Scorsese, in a month-long retrospective featuring four of his timeless, and quotable, films: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. Shows start at 7 p.m. every Wednesday, beginning March 4, with all tickets $8.50.
Tickets are available at the box office, or guests may conveniently purchase tickets in advance online, or through the Reading Cinemas US app. For more information please visit ReadingCinemasUs.com, or follow us on Facebook @RohnertPark16, or on Twitter and Instagram @ReadingCinemas.
SCORSESE SERIES SCHEDULEReading Cinemas Rohnert ParkEvery Wednesday in March
TAXI DRIVER (1976)MARCH 4 @ 7PMSuffering from insomnia, disturbed loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a job as a New York City cabbie, haunting the streets nightly, growing increasingly detached from reality as he dreams of cleaning up the filthy city. When Travis meets pretty campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), he becomes obsessed with the idea of saving the world, first plotting to assassinate a presidential candidate, then directing his attentions toward rescuing 12-year-old prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster). (113min, R)
RAGING BULL (1980)MARCH 11 @ 7PMArguably Martin Scorsese’s and Robert De Niro’s finest film about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta, whose violence and temper that led him to the top in the ring destroyed his life outside of it. De Niro took home his second Oscar for Best Actor. (129min, R)
GOODFELLAS (1990)MARCH 18 @ 7PMMartin Scorsese explores the life of organized crime with his gritty, kinetic adaptation of Nicolas Pileggi’s best-selling book Wiseguy, the true-life account of mobster and FBI informant Henry Hill. Directed and co-written by Martin Scorsese, it was chosen as 1990’s Best Picture by the New York, Los Angeles, and National Societies of Film Critics and named to the American Film Institute’s Top 100 American Films List. Electrifying performances abound, from a standout cast that includes Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco Paul Sorvino and Joe Pesci, who earned a best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance. (148min, R)
CASINO (1995)MARCH 25 @ 7PMRobert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Golden Globe winner Sharon Stone star in director Martin Scorsese’s riveting look at how blind ambition, white-hot passion, and 24-karat greed toppled an empire. Las Vegas 1973 is the setting for this fact-based story about the Mob’s multimillion-dollar casino operation – where fortunes and lives were made and lost with a roll of the dice. (178min, R)
The Jewish Community Center (JCC) presents the 5th Annual Sonoma County Israeli Film Festival, March 3-31, at Rialto Cinemas Sebastopol. The festival seeks to nurture an appreciation of Israeli culture in Sonoma County, exploring the human stories and important issues facing Israeli society, and the larger world.
The 2020 films focus on issues of gender identity, love at old age, the pull between secular and orthodox, and the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, and include comedies, dramas, international award winners, and a Bay Area premiere. Israel has a robust and prolific film industry, many films of which never grace our screens – the JCC is proud to present these gems to our Sonoma County communities.
All films are on Tuesdays and screen twice on the day, at 1 pm and 7 pm.
FLAWLESS (Coming of Age) – BAY AREA PREMIERE – Tuesday, March 3, 1 pm & 7 pm Eden has a deeply held secret. An outcast at her new high school, she discovers that her only two friends have been lured into a plot to sell their organs to pay for cosmetic surgery and prom dresses. Believing she has found the answer to her prayers, she joins them on an international adventure. The film’s star, Stav Strashko, was the first transgender woman nominated for the Best Actress Israeli (Ophir) Academy Award.
There will be a special post-show talk following the 7 pm screening.
TEL AVIV ON FIRE (Comedy) – Tuesday, March 17, 1 pm & 7 pm
Young Palestinian Salam is an assistant on the soap opera “Tel Aviv on Fire.” When he is suddenly stopped on his daily commute to work at an Israeli military checkpoint, he pretends to be the screenwriter to get through. But the tough officer Assi – whose wife loves the show – has a few storyline ideas of his own. Salam is trapped in a hilarious and impossible situation in this delicious film that walks the fine comedic line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Winner of Best Film at the Venice Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the Israeli (Ophir) Academy Awards.
THE OTHER STORY (Drama) – Tuesday, March 24, 1 pm & 7 pm
Anat flees the chaos of her secular upbringing for the discipline and comfort of Hassidic life. Engaged to marry her now-religious, formerly wild-and-crazy pop star boyfriend, her family is determined to stop the marriage and lure her away from orthodoxy. Directed by the legendary Avi Nesher, the film weaves captivating stories about the complex diversity of Israeli Jewish life.
LOVE IN SUSPENDERS (Romantic Comedy) – Tuesday, March 31, 1 pm & 7 pm
When feisty, absent-minded widow Tami hits gruff widower Beno with her car, the last thing on her mind is romance. Warned by her attorney son, Tami tries to ensure Beno will not sue her by inviting him to her luxury apartment in a retirement community. A heartwarming comedy about overcoming loss and celebrates the right to love and be loved at any age.
Important Dates: February 1: season tickets on sale; February 8: individual tickets on sale. Tickets at JCCSOCO.ORG. For more information, contact Irène Hodes, Film Festival Director.
1301 Farmers Lane, C103Santa RosaCA 95405 The JCC is a 501 (c) (3), not-for-profit corporation. Tax ID# 68-0381321.
Movies are multi-faceted to begin with; with queer auteurs, casts and crews, it gets even more complicated. Look in the Blade’s Jan. 3 edition for a full “year in review” roundup in film and many other categories, where I’ll recap more thoroughly the year’s LGBT cinematic highlights. This, however, is my official 2019 “top 10” list.
The number one movie of the year was undoubtedly the magnificent “Pain and Glory (Dolor y Gloria)” by queer auteur Pedro Almodóvar. In this deeply moving story based loosely on the filmmaker’s own life, long-time Almodóvar collaborator Antonio Banderas plays gay filmmaker Salvador Mallo whose physical and psychological ailments have kept him away from the camera. Banderas won the Best Actor prize at Cannes; Almodóvar veterans Penelope Cruz and Julieta Serrano turn and a great supporting cast turn in richly nuanced performances.
The rest of the Top 10 include (in alphabetical order):
“Downton Abbey.” Creator Julian Fellowes seamlessly moved his elegant television serial to the big screen without missing a beat. The sumptuous high-class soap opera included fun new characters (Imelda Staunton as the formidable Maud Bagshaw), delicious quips from the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) and a visit to a gay pub by butler Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier). A special mention goes to “The Chaperone,” a side project by Fellowes, “Downton” director Michael Engler and “Downton”star Elizabeth McGovern which offers a delightfully subversive look at Midwest American life in the 1920s.
“End of the Century.” With bold and exciting artistic choices, first-time director Lucio Castro creates a steamy mystery about two men who meet on the streets of Barcelona.
“Frankie.” In a transcendently luminescent performance, the brilliant Isabelle Huppert plays a dying French actress who has gathered her large complicated family together for one last holiday. Working with co-screenwriter Mauricio Zacharias, gay filmmaker Ira Sachs skillfully guides the large international cast through complex physical and emotional terrains building to a powerful final tableau. Marisa Tomei is great as Frankie’s best friend Ilene.
“Little Women.” Writer/director Greta Gerwig offers a fresh, dazzling and thoroughly contemporary take on the beloved classic by Louise May Alcott. Gerwig’s powerful queer adaptation focuses on the rivalry between Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and her sister Amy (Florence Pugh). Gerwig writes with a confident flair and directs with a steady hand; the supporting performances are all wonderful.
“Marriage Story.” Writer/director Noah Baumbach’s incisive and insightful examination of a dissolving marriage features searing performances by Adam Drive and Scarlet Johansson (who also get to perform two numbers from “Company,” Stephen Sondheim’s musical about marriage).
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” This sumptuous French period drama tells the story of a young female artist who falls in love with her subject. The richly sensuous and thoughtful exploration of art and romance won the Queer Palm at Cannes where lesbian filmmaker Céline Sciamma also won the screenwriting award.
“Rocketman.” Using the pop superstar and gay icon’s own music, director Dexter Fletcher leads audiences on a fantastic journey through Elton John’s early life, including his childhood, his rise to international stardom, his coming out, his addictions and his decision to enter rehab. Taron Egerton is fantastic as Elton and the costumes by Julian Day are, of course, fabulous.
“Us.” Jordan Peele’s 2017 debut feature “Get Out” was a penetrating analysis of racism in America. His second feature is a devastating critique of the American Dream with indelible performances by Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss.
“Where’s My Roy Cohn?” In this excellent documentary, long-form journalist turned documentary filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer profiles Roy Cohn, the closeted gay lawyer who was the mastermind the Lavender Scare of the 1950s and who served as a mentor to Donald Trump.
Honorable Mentions go to “1917,” Sam Mendes’ technically dazzling and emotionally devastating World War I tale; “And Then We Danced,” a deeply political story about the romantic relationship and artistic rivalry between two male dancers; “Ask Dr. Ruth” a thoughtful and clever documentary about the Holocaust survivor and pioneering sex therapist who became a fierce LGBT ally; “Booksmart,” Olivia Wilde’s funny and sensitive story about two high school best friends, one lesbian and one straight; and, “By the Grace of God” a clear-eyed and piercing denunciation of clerical abuse in the French Catholic Church by queer auteur François Ozon.
The list of honorable mentions continues with “Harriet” featuring a riveting by Cynthia Erivo as freedom fighter Harriet Tubman; “Knives Out,” the clever all-star whodunit helmed by Rian Johnson; “Parasite,” Bong Joon Ho’s visually stunning and searing satire on class warfare in South Korea; “The Two Popes” with splendid scenery and memorable performances by Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Frances and emeritus Pope Benedict; and “Waves” a visceral exploration of an affluent African American family in crisis by Trey Edward Shults.
The (Not So) Guilty Pleasure of the Year was the thoroughly enjoyable “Charlie’s Angels.” Camp goddess and queer icon Elizabeth Banks (who served as producer, director, writer and star) provided a stylish, suspenseful and clever reboot of the ’70s TV series. The movie had a delightfully queer and feminist sensibility (with Kristen Stewart as a pansexual Angel) with strong central female performances, a great supporting cast and delicious cameos by Laverne Cox, Danica Patrick, Ronda Rousey and Jaclyn Smith, one of the original Angels.
Finally, a word on the passing of a cinematic era. With the release of “Star Wars” (now called “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope”) in 1977, creator George Lucas changed the way movies are filmed, scored, marketed and merchandised. Since then, the Skywalker sage has gone through some significant ups and downs, but it has remained an inescapable cultural milestone. With the release of “Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker,” the big-screen cinematic franchise will come to an end, even though the theme park attractions will go on forever.