“Find Your Story” is the theme of Frameline 36, this year’s edition of the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival opening today and running through June 24, and attendees will have over 200 stories to choose from. Most will be new discoveries, of course, but Frameline, like other organizations this year, such as the UCLA Film & Television Archive and Outfest, is also marking the unofficial 20th anniversary of New Queer Cinema. “Unlike other film movements,” wrote Bright Lights Film Journal editor Gary Morris for GreenCine some time back, “this one had no manifesto, no rules and no particular canon, making it in essence not a movement or a genre but, perhaps more accurately, a trend.” But it was a trend with a catchy name, granted by B. Ruby Rich, who recently told Outfest “that a particular historic moment gave rise to the New Queer Cinema, a set of films that I tagged with that term in 1992. Trying to sort this out for my new book (Duke, 2013), I came up with four factors that were responsible for the NQC: AIDS, Reagan, the invention of camcorders, and cheap rent.”
Lynn Rapoport in the Bay Guardian: “In addition to presenting Rich with its annual Frameline Award, the fest has programmed a retrospective of four films that offer a sense of New Queer Cinema’s expansive scope and permeable borders: Alex Sichel’s dark-and-light, riot grrrl music-infused All Over Me (costarring a baby-faced Leisha Hailey from The L Word); Ana Kokkinos’s Head On (1998), about a reckless but closeted young man living in a tight-knit Greek Australian community; Gregg Araki’s violent, trashily romantic, HIV-inflected road movie The Living End (1992); and Cheryl Dunye’s experimental mix of documentary and dyke drama The Watermelon Woman (1996). (In 2012’s Mommy Is Coming, also screening, Dunye adds to the mix Berlin sex clubs, explicit taxicab-backseat role play, and a parent-child dynamic likely to leave you flinching in horror.)”
The SFBG is also running capsule previews of six features and Cheryl Eddy‘s overview of Frameline’s documentary slate. The Chronicle runs a dozen brief previews and notes that the festival is opening with Vito, “a documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz about gay activist ad film author Vito Russo, who wrote The Celluloid Closet and was a founding member of GLAAD and ACT UP…. The closing-night film is Thom Fitzgerald’s Cloudburst, a romantic comedy starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker.” Randy Myers picks out five “must-sees” for the San Jose Mercury.
Meantime, pro-Palestinian activists have been protesting the festival’s cooperation with the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. Heather Cassell has the full story in the Bay Area Reporter.
Update, 6/16: Michael Hawley‘s well-researched preview is quite extensive!
Update, 6/19: “Arthur Rimbaud and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry are the twin literary spirits guiding Matthew Mishory‘s debut feature Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean (2012) [official site / Facebook]—Rimbaud as an introduction to fire, and Saint-Exupéry as the patron saint of puers.” Michael Guillén: “Like Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince appearing and disappearing in the desert, Mishory’s homostylized take on Hollywood icon James Dean queers the archetype of Dean’s eternal youth, as imagined through his formative years at UCLA.”
Update, 6/22: Joshua Sanchez’s Four, adapted from the play by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie winner Christopher Shinn, “brightens the cinematic landscape with its eschewal of lazy softcore porn for an authentic and complex treatment of gay characters,” writes Michael Guillén, who also talks with Michael House about Revealing Mr. Maugham: “With earnest thoroughness, House recounts W. Somerset Maugham‘s fascinating literary career and reveals intriguing elements of his personal life that enrichen an appreciation of Maugham’s body of work.”