The 35th edition of the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, or Frameline35, opens tonight with Rashaad Ernesto Green's Gun Hill Road (image above) and runs through June 26 — Gay Pride Day — closing with Geoffrey Sax's Christopher and His Kind.
Michael Hawley previews eight narrative features and six documentaries, and he's got a top recommendation for each category, beginning with Céline Sciamma's Tomboy: "It's the summer before 4th grade and Laure's family has moved to a new town. When a potential playmate mistakes her for a boy, athletic Laure plays along and becomes Mikael to all the neighborhood kids — a charade that's kept hidden from her parents until just before the start of school. This complex and intelligent tale about gender identity won a jury prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival and it's now one of my favorite films of the year." And in Sebastiano d'Ayala Valva's Angel, "South American boxer turned Parisian transsexual prostitute makes a poignant journey home in this fascinating and affecting documentary that's among the best I've seen this year."
The San Francisco Bay Guardian has quick reviews of ten features, including Dennis Harvey's for Pietro Marcello's The Mouth of the Wolf: "This experimental narrative is a mix of archival footage and dramatic vignettes depicting the great love between two unlikely entwined souls who met in prison: ex-hood/longtime jailbird Enzo, a.k.a. Vincenzo Motta), and sometimes drug-addicted transsexual Mary Monaco (who died last year after filming). It's also a lyrical appreciation of Genoa, the fabled northern Italian seaport that's experienced tumultuous changes for over two millennia. Pietro Marcello's unpinnable 'docu-fiction' — Motta and Monaco apparently play themselves, a highlight being a 12-minute, nearly unbroken-shot dual interview — is frequently gorgeous cinematic poetry."
Also in the SFBG: "Half of the fest's showcase films celebrate the power of the performing arts," notes Lynn Rapoport, whose brief roundup wraps with Leave It on the Floor, "which updates (and fictionalizes) the drag and tranny ball scene of Paris Is Burning, transports it to the warehouses of South Central LA, and adds some infectious music and lyrics (the song 'Justin's Gonna Call' is particularly likely to stay trapped in your brain for days)."
"This year's Bay Area-centric Frameline features run a thematic and identification gamut appropriate to the festival's ever-inclusive programming. Several are celebrations of local LGBT heroines and heroines, some recently deceased and some still-with-us." An overview from Dennis Harvey. Louis Peitzman talks with Ash Christian about Mangus!, "a dark comedy in the tradition of Christian's cinematic idols John Waters and Todd Solondz." And Matt Sussman talks with Eddie Lee "Sausage" and Mitchell "Mitch D" Deprey, the subjects (well, two of them) of Matthew Bate's documentary Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure.
"One film not to be missed at Frameline this year is the Argentinean entry, Absent," advises Gary Kramer, who's written eleven capsule previews for the San Francisco Bay Times. "The first half of Marco Berger's extraordinary drama deliberately bristles with seduction and danger. The second half sustains it inexorably, drawing out the tension for some poignant and emotionally powerful moments."
ALSO IN SAN FRANCISCO
Klaus Kinski: Jesus Christ the Savior, a record of a 1971 solo performance in which Kinski and his audience spar furiously throughout, screens at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts tonight and Sunday. Matt Sussman: "What's surprising is the palpable sincerity beneath Kinski's vitriol: He seems genuinely exasperated by the unreceptive crowd, even as each successive disciplinary outburst further alienates them. Of course, such naiveté is another symptom of privilege, but rarely are the privileged as hypnotic or as loose a cannon as Kinski. God bless him."
Japanese Divas arrive at the Pacific Film Archive tomorrow and will be on view through August 20. Kimberly Chun, also in the SFBG: " Inspired by, though not identical to, this spring's series at the Film Forum in New York City, Japanese Divas flips the focus, with an elegantly loaded bow and a smile, away from the Toshiros, Chishus, and the other male stars of Japan's cinematic classics and toward idealized Yasujiro Ozu beauty Setsuko Hara; the crossover face of midcentury Japanese film, Michiko Kyo; Kenji Mizoguchi favorite Kinuyo Tanaka; and Naruse muse Hideko Takamine. And though this incarnation of Japanese Divas can often seem like the Setsuko Hara show with its attention to Ozu's works, other formidable females show themselves fully capable of grabbing viewers' attention." Related: Adrian Curry's roundup of posters.
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