It is, as Michael Hawley notes at the top of his preview (ten capsule reviews and a batch of quick takes), "the world's oldest and largest LGBT film festival." Frameline34 opens today and runs through June 27 at "the Castro, Roxie and Victoria Theaters in San Francisco as well as the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley."
The lineup "certainly reflects the productivity and popularity of gay filmmaking today, with some 219 films, 83 of them features, and 22 of those first features in the current expansive schedule," writes Dennis Harvey at SF360. "But more about the new stuff anon. First let's turn the Wayback Machine to circa 45 years ago, when Warhol was just beginning to gain widespread recognition as a pop artist." A whirlwind tour of the sidebars follows, with an emphasis on Andy Warhol 1960s Gay Cinema and a predilection for all that's vintage. "Other highlighted presentations at Frameline 34 include, naturally, opening night selection The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister — a British costume drama [image above] about a real-life aristocratic early 19th-century woman-loving-woman." Then there's "the Peruvian magical-realist Undertow — part of a sidebar on South America's New Queer Cinema — plus complex Bahamian drama Children of God. Great things have been heard about Xavier Dolan's French-Canadian I Killed My Mother, as well as Leanne Pooley's doc The Topp Twins, about a goofy New Zealand lesbian country-music duo."
The San Francisco Bay Guardian has its capsule previews, of course; and Dennis Harvey pops up there, too, noting that a "number of films in Frameline's 34th edition address the complicated landscape of gay male body image issues. They're not always pretty — at least emotionally. Although it is generally also the business of people in movies to be pretty. It is also the business of these particular movies to question just what pretty is, and why the hell it has to be so important."
Also: Matt Sussman on the re-teaming of XXY (2007) director Lucía Puenzo and actress Inés Efron in The Fish Child, Jamilah King on F**king Traditional Values: Queer Women of Color Shorts and Cheryl Eddy gets a few words with Kathy Wolfe, founder and CEO of this year's Frameline Award winner, Wolfe Video, "the leading exclusive distributor of LGBT films, which they do via film festivals, video stores, video on demand, and the Internet, including their website, Wolfevideo.com."
Meantime, Michael Guillen asks KC Price all about what it is that an executive director of such a festival actually does.
Updates, 6/21: Jay Blodgett is posting batches of capsule reviews day by day.
For SF360, Michael Fox interviews Billy Clift: "Baby Jane?, his affectionate, acerbic and thoroughly entertaining remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, was shot in 12 days and stars Matthew Martin (as Bette Davis, er, Baby Jane) and J Conrad Frank (as Joan Crawford-slash-Blanche)."
"Despite some laugh-outloud one-liners and sitcom vignettes, Grown Up Movie Star (2009) [official site] is a wholly uneven film whose less-than-credible narrative achieves a measure of traction through some credible performances, most notably Tatiana Maslany (who won a Special Jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival)." Still, Michael Guillén's taken notes at the Q&A with actor Shawn Doyle and director Adriana Maggs.
Updates, 6/25: Max Goldberg at SF360: "The excavation of queer histories in mainstream, avant-garde, documentary and archival film productions is on the rise; to name but four, Milk, Tearoom, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell and Milestone's recent Word is Out reissue. Frameline34 has brought together a wide array of programs following this retrospective impulse, ranging from close-to-home testimony projects (We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco) to scholarly considerations of Andy Warhol's film work. The plurality of queer histories on view is striking." Considered: Stonewall Uprising, William S Burroughs: A Man Within, The Consul of Sodom and Mädchen in Uniform (Géza von Radványi's 1958 remake with Romy Schneider).
A roundup from Matt Sussman at SF360: "By and large, the consensus among the movie-goers, fellow film critics, and critically minded queer pals I've informally polled seems to be that Frameline34 has offered some of the festival's strongest programming in recent memory (full disclosure: I was on this year's shorts screening committee and contributed program notes to the festival's publications). Chalk it up to the fact that there are far fewer fluffy coming-out narratives or romcoms this year; or to the bumper crop of Showcase features by established and emerging international directors; or to the large portion of documentaries that speak relevantly to hot-button issues — military service, same sex marriage, body image — currently contested within the LGBT community, as well as those that retrace queer history. It's as if Frameline's audience threw down the challenge: 'Show us something different.' The festival has largely obliged."
Update, 6/29: "Brazilian film Dzi Croquettes by Raphael Alvarez and Tatiana Issa won Frameline34's Outstanding Documentary Award, while the fest's Outstanding First Feature Award went to Javier Fuentes-León's Undertow, which screened as the event's Centerpiece." Brian Brooks has all the award-winners at indieWIRE.