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7 Films to Watch at Frameline 38

Frameline is always my most anticipated film festival in the city. From a pretty strong lineup, here I picked some films that I would like to see (after skimming the synopses) and let’s see how they turn out.

Honorable Mention

Documentaries: Frameline 38 opens with The Case Against 8, a close look at the monumental victory in LGBT right history when Supreme court overturned california Proposition 8 last summer. There are several interesting period films: Out in East Berlin — Lesbians & Gays in the GDR records thirteen East Berlin queer voices to recreate the picture of people living behind Iron Curtain and their search of identity and love; The Circle is an incredible docudrama about Zurich’s ground breaking gay magazine Der Kreis in the 1950s; Mondo Homo: A Study of French Gay Porn in the 70’s is another fascinating documentary that looks back into history and brings its viewers to the raw, rough, sweaty era of porn. In the light of Google’s Pride theme #ProudToPlay, I’m also interested in Back on Board: Greg Louganis, a film about HIV-positive four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, and Out in the Line-Up: Uncovering the Taboo of Homosexuality in Surfing, which simply looks pretty hot. Also, Star Trek legend George Takei is featured in documentary centerpiece To Be Takei, expect it to be a big hit.

Narratives: Driven by a powerhouse performance from its beautiful actress, Finnish film Open Up to Me examines the social complexity in transgender people’s relationships and their endeavor in the pursuit of happiness. The lusty tanned male bodies in Futuro Beach remind me of the Latino hit last year The Last Game, and make an arousing scene with sheer masculinity. Eat with Me pairs a son from a traditional Asian family with a young handsome blonde guy, and bears quite some resemblance to this year’s centerpiece Lilting in setting the film in the perspective of a gay son’s mom. Sundance’s craziest, most outrageous movie Wetlands, exploring the delicate female body with vegetables, riotous fun and unabashed obscenity, might be the kinkiest of Frameline, but it also goes beyond human bodies to study emotions and relationships. Finally, Bad Hair and Salvation Army are two movies from countries much less prolific in cinema, Venezuela and Morocco, that I missed in this year’s SFIFF, hopefully I can make up this time.

Frameline: Films Bring Us Together.


Here are the seven films that I pick.

7. Anita’s Last Cha-Cha (Thursday June 26, 6:45pm, Castro)
Films are not meant to be just about adults, they should be about everyone, anyone. So let’s start the list with something we don’t usually see in LGBT cinema: a 12-year-old tomboy falling in love with a grown-up woman. Too many times kids are told by adults that their feelings aren’t real and they will soon get over them, but what if those feelings are real and they are just so hard to get over? Fortunately, this film isn’t one of those adults, it treats Anita’s love as seriously and tenderly as any other films treat adults’.

6. Five Dances (Friday June 20, 7:00pm, Victoria)
Last year’s dance-themed Frameline hit Test is pretty good, especially the beautiful choreography and incredibly inviting scores. Five Dances doesn’t seem to garner the same positive responses from early critiques, and it has a completely different backdrop set in modern day NYC; but let’s give it a chance. I recently find dancing (films) quite compelling because it incorporates both visual arts and performing arts, and would like to see more.

5. Violette (Monday June 23, 9:15pm, Castro)
This biopic of tormented French writer Violette Leduc is a compelling depiction of her life of writing without recognition and her desperate yet unreturned love to her friend and mentor, the famous feminist Simone de Beauvoir. Playing the title role, Cesar award winner Emmanuelle Devos is one of the biggest stars in this year’s lineup and I like her very much.

4. Floating Skyscrapers (Saturday June 21, 9:30pm, Victoria; Thursday June 26th, 9:30pm, Roxie.)
There is a very thin line between graphic sexual scenes and soft porn. Last year the French wowed LGBT cinema by dancing deftly on that line with two completely different yet both audacious and beautiful works Blue is the Warmest Color and Stranger by the Lake. Now it’s the Poles’ turn and given their great effort in In the name of, I am curious how they deal with a more sexually charged gay relationship. Even if it only comes close to any of the above three films, I’ll be satisfied.

3. 52 Tuesdays (Tuesday June 24, 7:00pm, Victoria)
Shoot in 52 consecutive Tuesdays and in chronological order of the story, 52 Tuesdays put our eyes on a sixteen-year-old girl coping with independence and her complicated teen life when her mother decides to take on a gender transition. This remarkable movie possesses the diversity that LGBT cinema much needs, and its groundbreaking work in filmmaking made it win big at both Berlin and Sundance.

2. The Way He Looks (Monday June 23, 6:30pm, Castro)
Coming of age and coming out are two of my favorite film themes, and when they come together, they often deliver a even stronger emotional punch. What is adulthood? What is best buddy? What are love and being loved? Exploring the desire and dismay of growing up, this year’s Berlinale Teddy Award winner is “warm, funny, and remarkably well acted — and one of the best film about boys in love since Beautiful Thing“.

1. Lilting (Wednesday June 25, 6:30pm, Castro)
This year’s narrative centerpiece features a very fascinating pair of costars Ben Whishaw and Cheng Pei-pei. Between the gentle, charming rising star from Cloud Atlas, and one of Hong Kong’s most prominent swordswomen on big screen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), there will be some rare and flaring sparks awaiting us. I don’t see Lilting as just a gay movie, I see it as a touching, multi-culture, cross-generational story whose characters happen to be gay, and that’s why I think I’m gonna really like it.

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