Arts & Entertainment
Gabriel’s arrival seems to coincide with Leo’s quest to finally break free and see if the school-exchange problem will also accept him so that he can live and study in another country. The news of this sends his mother into a fit, but his more amenable father is at least open to considering the idea which he tells Leo in one of the most touching of scenes in this very gentle coming of age story.
Leo’s quest for independence is part of his journey about discovering who he really is, and he seems totally surprised when he realises that part of this is his attraction for Gabriel. As the boys friendship grows into something much deeper, neither of them can trust their judgements in revealing their feelings to each other, even after a stolen peck on the cheek after a drunken party.
There is nothing at all extraordinary in the plot-lines of this wee movie, but somehow it has the most endearing quality that makes it so immensely enjoyable. There is a remarkable innocence to this group of young people who all seem never to have even been kissed, and even the inclusion of Leo’s taunting by the bullies in his class has no hint of any real hatred. There are some really nice touches of humor and tenderness, none more so than when Gabriel insists that Leo learns how to dance. What does make it all so compelling is the captivating performances of the three young lead actors, particularly Ghilherme Lobo who was so pitch perfect as the blind boy.
This very cute debut feature from Brazilian writer/director Daniel Ribeiro was based on his award-winning short ‘Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho’ with the same actors, and has gone on to, quite rightly, win two major accolades from the Berlinale : the FIPRESCI Prize and The TEDDY for Best LGBT Feature. It is about to hit the Film Festival circuit where it will so easily win over a lot of hearts too. Especially the closing scenes.
An attention-grabbing, potentially profile-elevating performance by up-and-comer Hunter Page-Lochard is the major selling point of “Around the Block,” an Aussie variation of the oft-spun scenario about an at-risk high-schooler who gets a shot at redemption through a transformative extracurricular activity. Christina Ricci claims top billing — and provides some modest marquee allure — as a transplanted American teacher determined to uplift her Sydney students by introducing them to Shakespeare. But Page-Lochard is the one more likely to earn the critical plaudits in this well-intended film.
Improbably engaged to the Down Under version of a good ol’ boy, U.S.-born Dino Chalmers (Ricci) immerses herself in what she assumes will be her happily-ever-after milieu by landing a job as English teacher in Redfern, a Sydney inner suburb, at an under-funded school on the brink of closure. It’s the sort of demanding gig that idealistic educators have been tackling in movies since the earliest flickerings of the silent era. And, true to form, Dino immediately evinces her can-do, infectiously ambitious spirit by talking the school’s borderline-burnout principal (Aussie screen icon Jack Thompson) into letting her stage a student production of “Hamlet.”
Liam Wood (Page-Lochard), a 16-year-old Aboriginal student from a hardscrabble housing project, surprises no one more than himself when he impulsively — and successfully — auditions for the lead role as the Prince of Denmark. At first, his atypical interest in a school event seems motivated entirely by his attraction to classmate and co-star Williemai (Madeleine Madden), a bright Aboriginal girl from a more upscale neighborhood. Gradually, however, first-time writer-director Sarah Spillane reveals that Liam has been inspired by the example of his Uncle Charlie, former member of a Sydney theater troupe.
Trouble is, Uncle Charlie recently met his untimely demise while collaborating with Jack (Matt Nable), Liam’s father, during a botched casino heist. Steve (Mark Coles Smith), Liam’s hot-headed, criminally inclined brother, is determined to punish the informer he holds responsible for Uncle Charlie’s death and his father’s current incarceration. And Steve fully expects Liam to assist in the violent retribution.
To her credit, Spillane doesn’t push too hard on the obvious parallels between Hamlet’s reluctance to kill his father’s murderer and Liam’s own hesitation to extract revenge. Rather, the filmmaker uses Liam’s crisis of conscience as the means to explore his deeply conflicted feelings of desire and dread, while Page-Lochard subtly and affectingly illuminates the often contradictory facets of the character. The young actor is especially effective in scenes with Ursula Yovich (who makes a memorable impact as Liam’s anxious mom), and in a key third-act interplay with Nable.
By sharp contrast, Ricci gamely struggles with clumps of hackneyed cheery-encouraging dialogue that inadvertently support another character’s dismissive suggestion that Dino is little more than a starry-eyed do-gooder who can’t help patronizing her Aboriginal students. Of course, Dino has problems of her own: Even before she distances herself from her casually racist fiance, she appears hopelessly lovesick for a beautiful shopkeeper (Andrea Demetriades) with whom she had a fling years earlier during a previous stay in Australia.
Dino’s slow-simmering sexual confusion comes to a boil, so to speak, during a rather startling scene in which the schoolteacher takes a walk on the wild side, picks up an androgynous tattooed cutie (Ruby Rose) in a lesbian bar, and proceeds to enjoy a hot and uninhibited one-night stand. Spillane’s matter-of-fact approach to presenting this steamy interlude doesn’t entirely mitigate its disruptive shock value.
Of course, the scene might have generated less of a WTF response had the overall narrative been more evenly divided between the two central characters. As it stands, however, Liam emerges so clearly as the central figure in this story that, after a certain point in the proceedings, anything not directly involving him seems like just so much distraction.
Veronika Jenet’s supple editing is a plus throughout, particularly during the climactic sequences. Other tech values are more than adequate to the task at hand.
“Around The Block” will be shown at Frameline 38 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival at the Castro Theater Tuesday, June 24 at 9:30 p.m. For more informayion go to: www.frameline.org.
An Ecuadorian coming-out film is something of a rarity in world or even gay cinema. Director Araujo’s work has much in common with previous coming-of-age films about ephebic youths on the road to self-discovery and acceptance only it happens in a country not often seen on film. Holiday is bookended by a nice visual conceit involving upside-down cityscapes and Araujo manages to include several other intriguing elements, such as the world of underground Ecuadorian metal bands or the 1999 banking crisis that’s affecting the protagonist’s family,that enhances the main storline.
The film’s set in 1999, when dreamy teenager Juan Pablo, or Juampi (Juan Manuel Arregui), is dropped off at the country home of his uncle Jorge (Peky Andino), up in the Andes. Though secluded, news of the banking crisis that was rocking the country back then filter through via television reports and hit close to home, as Juampi’s family’s involved in the scandal.
But neither the protagonist nor the movie are all that interested in the scandals flaring up in faraway Quito, with Juampi instead hanging out on his own since it seems a better alternative than spending time with uncle Jorge’s hectoring teenage sons. There’s some excitement when he helps escape a hubcap thief his own age, Juan Pablo or Juano (Diego Andres Paredes), from the clutches of his uncle’s heavies during a carnival party.
Their hesitant, slowly growing friendship forms the core of the film but despite the fact that Juano comes from a poor indigenous family and Juampi comes from a background of privilege, there’s very little in terms of overt socio-political commentary. Araujo might be suggesting that the boys see each other as equals but in the context of the film it not only feels like a missed opportunity but also means that their growing bond feels rather flat and clichéd since it lacks any kind of texture or dramatic conflict.
Juano, who seems welded to his black leather jacket except in the obligatory couple of scenes in which he must be unselfconsciously shirtless, loves metal and hard rock music and there’s a scene where the duo visit an underground concert that’s raided by the police a minute after they arrive. Like the boys’ background, Araujo similarly brings it up only to do nothing interesting with it — the idea of the underground metal scene in Ecuador as a backdrop for a teenage friendship or love story sounds rife with possibilities, none of which are explored here.
As the slightly sullen, low-key protagonists, Arregui and Paredes both certainly look the part but aren’t the strongest actors, though part of the blame has to go the screenplay which leaves their roles a tad undeveloped. The ending, nevertheless, is quietly heartbreaking as well as liberating.
Cinematographer Magela Crosignani has some fun with the upside-down shots of Quito that open the film and that pop up again in the third act, where their origin is explained. They represent a nice visual touch that the otherwise perfunctorily shot film could have used more of. The other technical credits are acceptable for what was clearly a low-budget film.
“Holiday” will be shown at Frameline38 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival at the Castro Theatre Friday, June 27 at 10 p.m. Go to www.framelin.org for more information.
Young Moroccan scribe Abdellah Taia moves into the director’s seat with the screen version of his autobiographical novel “Salvatio. ” The film delivers a straightforward, beautifully told story of a gay man negotiating family, desire and the sexual power play behind Arab-European intimacy. Thestrong pint-of-view narrative allows access to the protaganist’s head, despite the character’s understandable distancing coldness.
While positive gay Arab protags are something of a cinematic novelty, “Salvation Army” isn’t the first to center around such a character, contrary to recent reports (Maher Sabry’s “All My Life” and Samer Daboul’s “Out Loud” are but two earlier examples). Taia’s largely autobiographical book, however, was a bold coming out, unadorned by guilt or sensationalism and directly confronting Western expectations, at least in gay circles, of Arab youth as adornments rather than equal companions. Transitioning his story to the screen, Taia retains the bare bones butsome of the warmth and insight is lost in the transition.
Young Abdellah (Said Mrini), 15, lives with his parents, five sisters and two brothers in a working-class district of Casablanca. His father has one bedroom, his older brother Slimane (Amine Ennaji) another, and the third is a burrow-like space where the warmth of his mother’s body, alongside his other siblings, provides a cocoon of reassuring intimacy. This protective physical ease contrasts with his parents’ volatile relationship, in which mutually desired sex is often a precursor to his father beating his mother (Malika El Hamaoui).
Cohabitation within this charged atmosphere is made more electric by Abdellah’s erotic longing for Slimane; meanwhile, the teen has his first sexual encounters with men. In the book Taia presents these episodes as rites of passage in which Abdellah connects to his sexuality; later, he also understands them as problematic manifestations of repression and the power dynamic imposed by older guys on younger ones. But in the film, the helmer-scripter removes any trace of gratification, shooting these scenes at a voyeuristic, emotionless distance.
Ten years later (inelegantly signaled), Abdellah (Karim Ait M’hand) is in a relationship with an older Swiss professor (Frederic Landenberg). The film’s best scene occurs at this juncture, when a prying rowboat owner showing the couple the sites near the coastal city of El Jadida tells Abdellah he’s lucky to have nabbed a rich guy. The implication of gay-for-pay is inescapable, and an uncomfortable Abdellah does nothing to dispel the interpretation, since doing it for money is acceptable whereas having same-sex emotional attachments would be “haram.”
Taia leaves unclear what Abdellah gets out of the affair, though he implies that the Swiss lover is a shortcut to obtaining a European student visa. The last section of the film takes place in Geneva, where the Salvation Army of the title temporarily provides friendly faces, meals and a roof over his head.
The detached and impassive atmosphere Taia maintains throughout, with long silent takes, is unquestionably a conscious choice, yet apart from breaking with the tone of his novel, the airlessness reflects Adellah’s hardening facade. The main actors, especially Mrini, are ciphers. A nice bit of first-person voiceover around 30 minutes in, allows us entry into Abdellah’s thoughtsand feelings. Taia places everyone against the most neutral backgrounds possible, further displaying the resonance of his characters.
Even the masterful talents of d.p. Agnes Godard add to the film’s sober, but yearning tone: A scene of the young Abdellah and his sister stomping laundry in tubs has a Proustian poetry about it. An erotic and revealing mud-bath scene appears plays with contrasting textures of mud and skin and delivers as a sensory delight.
“Salvation Army” will be shown at Frameline 38 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival at the Victoria Theatre June 20 at 9:30 p.m. and at the Roxie Theatre June 27 at 7 p.m. For more information go to: www.frameline.org.
Congratulations to 26 winning books in 24 categories at Lambda’s event in New York. They are:
GAY GENERAL FICTION: Mundo Cruel, Luis Negron
LESBIAN GENERAL FICTION: Happiness, Like Water, Chinelo Okparanta
BISEXUAL FICTION: My Education, Susan Choi
LGBT DEBUT FICTION: Descendants Of Hagar, Nik Nicholson
LGBT GRAPHIC NOVEL: Calling Dr. Laura, Nicole J. Georges
GAY MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY: A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956-1984, Glenway Wescott, Jerry Rosco
LESBIAN MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY: Body Geographic Barrie Jean Borich
TRANSGENDER FICTION: Wanting in Arabic, Trish Salah
TRANSGENDER NONFICTION: The End of San Francisco, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
LGBT NONFICTION: White Girls, Hilton Als
BISEXUAL NONFICTION: The B Word, Maria San Filippo
GAY POETRY: Unpeopled Eden, Rigoberto Gonzalez
LESBIAN POETRY: Rise in the Fall, Ana Bozicevic
GAY MYSTERY: The Prisoner of the Riviera, Janice Law
LESBIAN MYSTERY: High Desert, Katherine V. Forrest
GAY ROMANCE: Into This River I Drown, TJ Klune
LESBIAN ROMANCE: Clean Slate, Andrea Bramhall
GAY EROTICA: The Padisah’s Son and the Fox, Alex Jeffers
LESBIAN EROTICA: Wild Girls, Wild Nights, Sacchij Green
LGBT ANTHOLOGY (tie)
- Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction, Karen Martin and Makhosazana Xaba, MaThoko’s Books
- Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners, Eds. Jim Elledge and David Groff, The University of Wisconsin Press
LGBT CHILDREN’S/YOUNG ADULT (tie)
- If You Could Be Mine, Sara Farizan
- Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan
LGBT DRAMA: Tom at the Farm, Michel Marc Bouchard, Talonbooks
LGBT SF/F/HORROR: Death by Silver, Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold
LGBT STUDIES: Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History & the Politics of Violence, Christina B. Hanhardt
6th Street Playhouse is hosting a red carpet party for the 68th Annual Tony Awards, Sunday, June 8th beginning at 6:30pm. The event includes a special viewing of the awards ceremony, complimentary red carpet photos for guests, Broadway-themed cocktails, champagne and a dessert buffet. Additionally, there will be an exciting silent auction featuring an array of valuable experiences and items.
Each General Admission ticket includes a cocktail and dessert buffet, donated by Michelle Marie’s Patisserie. VIP seating is available which includes a table for 4, champagne and other treats. Other events include trivia contests and prizes during commercial breaks and an opportunity to cast a ballot for the winners and win some great Broadway swag. Craig A. Miller will emcee the evening.
68th Annual Tony Awards
6th Street Playhouse
Sunday, June 8th
Doors open at 6:30pm, Tony Awards Ceremony begins 8:00pm
Tickets: $40 General Admission through May 31
$50-$300 after May 31
www.6thstreetplayhouse.com or (707) 523-4185
About The 6th Street Playhouse:
In 2004, a new partnership reunited the Santa Rosa Players and Actors Theatre under one board of directors. Together they renovated the 119-year-old Del Monte cannery into the 6th
Street Playhouse, which houses a 185-seat main stage (The G. K. Hardt ) and a 99-seat black box (The Studio ).
6th Street Playhouse is a performing arts organization that produces live theatre and provides education programs of the highest quality that engage, delight, and inspire the diverse communities of the North Bay region. 6th Street Playhouse is the central hub of the Sonoma County arts scene. It is known throughout the region for its high level of artistry, professionalism, educational opportunities and the bravery of its approach to works both Classic and New.
In its 2013-2014 Season, under the direction of Artistic Director, Craig A. Miller, the 6th Street Playhouse was named “Best Theatre Troupe” by the North Bay Bohemian for the third consecutive year, and was the winner of six San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critic Circle Awards. 6th Street Playhouse was also the recipient of 13 Stage One Theatre Awards (SOTA), including Best New Play and Best Director. The 6th Street Playhouse is located at 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa, California.
Select nominations for the 2014 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards, announced Tuesday.
Best Play: “Act One,” ”All The Way,” ”Casa Valentina,” ”Mothers and Sons.” ”Outside Mullingar”
Best Musical: “After Midnight,” ”Aladdin,” ”Beautiful-The Carole King Musical,” ”A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
Best Book of a Musical: “Aladdin,” ”Beautiful-The Carole King Musical,” ”Bullets Over Broadway A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater: “Aladdin, “The Bridges of Madison County,” ”A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” ”If/Then”
Best Revival of a Play: “The Cripple of Inishmaan, “The Glass Menagerie,” ”A Raisin in the Sun,” ”Twelfth Night”
Best Revival of a Musical: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” ”Les Miserables,” ”Violet”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Samuel Barnett, “Twelfth Night,” Bryan Cranston, “All the Way,” Chris O’Dowd, “Of Mice and Men,” Mark Rylance, “Richard III,” Tony Shalhoub, “Act One”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Tyne Daly, “Mothers and Sons,” LaTanya Richardson Jackson, “A Raisin in the Sun,” Cherry Jones, “The Glass Menagerie,” Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” Estelle Parsons, “The Velocity of Autumn”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Neil Patrick Harris, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” Ramin Karimloo, “Les Miserables,” Andy Karl, “Rocky,” Jefferson Mays, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” Bryce Pinkham, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Mary Bridget Davies, “A Night With Janis Joplin,” Sutton Foster, “Violet,” Idina Menzel, “If/Then,” Jessie Mueller, “Beautiful-The Carole King Musical,” Kelli O’Hara, “The Bridges of Madison County”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Reed Birney, “Casa Valentina,” Paul Chahidi, “Twelfth Night,” Stephen Fry, “Twelfth Night,” Mark Rylance, “Twelfth Night,” Brian J. Smith, “The Glass Menagerie”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Sarah Greene, “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” Celia Keenan-Bolger, “The Glass Menagerie,” Sophie Okonedo, “A Raisin in the Sun,” Anika Noni Rose, “A Raisin in the Sun,” Mare Winningham, “Casa Valentina”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Danny Burstein, “Cabaret,” Nick Cordero, “Bullets Over Broadway,” Joshua Henry, “Violet”
Frameline38 Announces Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night Films of Upcoming San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival
Frameline38: the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival has announced its Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night films for this year’s renowned showcase of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer cinema. Frameline38, the world’s first and largest LGBT film festival, will be held June 19 – 29, 2014 in San Francisco and the East Bay.
With an expected attendance of 65,000, the 11 days of Frameline38 will draw film lovers, media artists, and LGBTQ communities from the Bay Area and all across the globe to discover the best in queer cinema.
The complete Frameline38 program will be announced on Monday, May 19. Tickets for Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night films are now on sale to Members only.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
THE CASE AGAINST 8 / dirs Ben Cotner and Ryan White / USA
HBO presents an all-access look at the first Supreme Court case on marriage equality. Shot over five years and featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, the film follows the four plaintiffs and the unlikely dream team of attorneys, Ted Olson and David Boies, as they challenge California’s Proposition 8 from San Francisco to the Supreme Court. More info & buy tickets »
TO BE TAKEI / dir Jennifer M. Kroot, editor/co-dir Bill Weber / USA
The stellar centerpiece documentary of Frameline38 celebrates the Star Trek legend, the marriage-equality advocate, the spokesperson for Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment camps during World War II, the Facebook phenomenon (with nearly 7 million fans), and the recipient of this year’s Frameline Award: superstar George Takei.
The 2014 Frameline Award will honor activist and actor George Takei for his wide-ranging and pioneering contributions to the representation of LGBTQ figures in media. More info & buy tickets »
LILTING / dir Hong Khaou / UK
Ben Whishaw and Pei-Pei Cheng shine in Hong Khaou’s debut feature. Exploring matters of grief, memory, and cultural barriers with sensitivity and emotional truth, Lilting tells the story of a Chinese mother and her son’s British lover attempting to move on after the death of their beloved. Together, they struggle to connect without a common language, as they piece together memories of a man they both loved. More info & buy tickets »
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
I FEEL LIKE DISCO / dir Axel Ranisch / Germany
Florian is a pudgy teen who loves disco and struggles with his sexuality. But his overbearing dad just doesn’t get him at all. When mom is suddenly gone, father and son must reconcile their relationship in this stellar fantasy-fueled coming-of-age dramatic comedy. More info & buy tickets »
The Festival’s complete program will be announced on Monday, May 19, 2014. Frameline38 screenings will take place in San Francisco at the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street), Roxie Theater (3117 16th Street) and Victoria Theatre (2961 16th Street), and in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas™ Elmwood (2966 College Avenue).
About the Festival
Frameline38: the 38th San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival returns to the Bay Area June 19-29, 2014, with its signature showcase of the world’s leading queer cinema. Frameline38 unites diverse communities for 11 days of innovative and socially relevant cinema. Discover emerging talents and embrace an unparalleled community of festivalgoers at the world’s oldest and largest celebration of queer cinema. Frameline38 pays tribute to LGBTQ experiences through pioneering documentaries, gripping features, delightful shorts, cinematic classics, and more. Tickets go on sale to members on Friday, May 23, and to the general public on Friday, May 30. www.frameline.org/festival
Musical direction by Janis Wilson
Choreography by Michella Snider
Costume Design by Pamela Enz
Set Design by Eddy Hansen and Elizabeth BazzanoWHEN: May 9 to May 25, 2014
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
7:30 p.m. Thursdays, May 15 and May 22
2 p.m. Sundays and Saturday, May 24
$26 General; $24 Senior/Youth; $22 Student
For tickets, call the Spreckels Box Office at 707 588-3400. Box Office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12 to 5 p.m. and one hour before showtime.WHERE: Spreckels Performing Arts Center
5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park, CA 94928WEBSITE: www.spreckelsonline.com