“The world’s oldest LGBT film festival celebrates its 37th anniversary this year, as Frameline‘s 2013 edition rolls out in San Francisco and Berkeley from June 20 to 30,” writes Michael Hawley at the top of his preview of seven narrative and four documentary features. “Globally, the fest remains the largest event of its kind, with this year’s record-setting 800 submissions being whittled down to a mere 82 features and 155 shorts representing 30 countries.”
At the Evening Class, Michael Guillén‘s previewed three films. First up is Pit Stop: “With his third feature, director Yen Tan joins forces with David Lowery (St. Nick, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) to craft a charming romance characterized by Variety‘s Dennis Harvey as ‘low key but ultimately deeply satisfying.’ B. Ruby Rich adds: ‘Yen Tan’s gift for long takes and his comfort with silences makes demands on the audience that films ought to make—and pays them back with a surprising happy ending.'” Michael interviews producer Jonathan Duffy.
#2: “Positioned within Frameline 37’s spotlight on Queer Asian Cinema, South Korean entry White Night (Baek Ya, 2012) is LeeSong Hee-il’s follow-up to No Regret (2006), which emerged as a milestone in Korean gay cinema.” White Night “is primarily a desultory and nocturnal mood piece with brooding attitudes and atmospheric affects draped over a minimal script.”
And #3: “Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton (2013), a documentary portrait of the famed poet / filmmaker / sexual liberator, has been created with evident affection by co-directors Stephen Silha, Eric Slade and Dawn Logsdon.” And it’s “an absolute must-see at the festival, delightfully visualized through archival footage, crafty and seductive in its poeticized graphics (‘Feathers or Lead’ is brilliant, breathtaking), and vitally informative as to the history of literary San Francisco, early experimental poetic cinema, and the queer counterculture.”
“Released just a year after 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge vexed fans (and Nightmare creator Wes Craven) with a storyline that enabled its formerly dream-bound villain to kill in the real world,” writes Cheryl Eddy. “But Nightmare 2 eventually earned a cult following, largely due to readings of the film that identified its gay subtext: a leather-daddy gym coach; the fact that Jesse had a hotter relationship with his best friend than his girlfriend; Jesse’s butt-bumping dance moves and effeminate screams; and lines like ‘Something is trying to get inside my body!’ Plus, that campy scene involving an exploding parakeet. Is it any wonder that Midnight Mass hostess Peaches Christ chose Nightmare 2 for Frameline’s late-night spotlight, with star Mark Patton in attendance?”
Also in the Bay Guardian, Dennis Harvey notes that there’s a batch of docs exploring “the achievements and personalities of more distant queer-history eras.” He previews the afore-mentioned Big Joy; Jeffrey Schwarz’s I Am Divine, a doc on Glenn Milstead, greeted in San Francisco as a star even “before his greatest roles for [John] Waters, as the fearsome anti-heroines of Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974), then the beleaguered hausfraus of Polyester (1981) and Hairspray (1988)”; Clare Beaven and Nic Stacey’s Codebreaker, “about Alan Turing—perhaps the most brilliant mathematician of his era, who basically came up with the essential concept of the modern-day computer (in 1936!)”; Daniel Young’s Paul Bowles: The Cage Door is Always Open, which “recalls the curious life of a successful American composer turned famous expat novelist”; and Nicholas Wrathall’s Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia: “Endlessly quotable (‘We’ve had bad Presidents in the past but we’ve never had a goddam fool,’ he said of George W. Bush), obstinately ‘out’ from an early age if never very PC in his views (‘Sex destroys relationships… I’m devoted to promiscuity’), Vidal is aptly appreciated here as ‘a thorn in the American Establishment, of which by birth he is a charter member.'”
And then there are the SFBG‘s “short takes and highlights,” including Harvey’s take on C.O.G., which also screens next week at BAMcinemaFest: “The first feature adapted from David Sedaris’ writing, Kyle Patrick Alvarez‘s film captures his acerbic autobiographical comedy while eventually revealing the misfit pain hidden behind that wit.” Also recommended is Jun Robles Lana’s Bwakaw, “one of the most deeply satisfying films at this year’s festival.”
Ryan Lattanzio highlights a batch at Thompson on Hollywood, including James Franco and Travis Mathews’s Interior. Leather Bar, an “imagined un-censoring of 40 minutes of leather bar footage slashed from [William Friedkin‘s] Cruising  by the MPAA.”
Update, 6/29: With the festival wrapping this weekend, Ryan Lattanzio previews a last round of films at Thompson on Hollywood.
Update, 6/30: Here in Keyframe, Michael Fox notes that “the show happens in the seats as much as on the screen…. Each program is truly a shared experience in which the presence and energy of the other moviegoers is as important as the skill and sensibility of the ostensible attraction.” What follows are his takes on I Am Divine, Big Joy, and Malcolm Ingram’s Continental.
At Indiewire, Julia Selinger reports that Wolfe Releasing picked up US and Canadian rights to four films during the festival: Bruno Barreto’s Reaching for the Moon, Yen Tan’s Pit Stop, and Stephen Lacant’s Free Fall, plus worldwide rights to Chris Mason Johnson’s Test.