This past June Frameline held a trial run of their annual San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Because of COVID-19, the Pride Showcase was virtual and shortened to three days. Frameline Executive Director James Woolley said in a press release, “The success of our virtual Pride Showcase showed that we could translate the Frameline Festival experience to a digital format.”
The Sept. 17-27 event will be twice the size of the Pride Showcase and will feature more than 35 films. Over the course of 11 days, the festival will conduct interviews with filmmakers, host panel discussions, hold a silent auction, and present the Frameline Award Night on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Ten days may not be enough time to watch the expansive lineup that’s arranged in, at last count, 11 different categories. The centerpiece films include the world premiere of D’Arcy Drollinger’s Shit & Champagne. Drollinger directs and stars as their drag queen alter ego Champagne. The film is described as “a wacky send-up of ’70s sexploitation flicks with a supporting cast of all-star drag talent.”
Another centerpiece film, Through the Glass Darkly, is not an American remake of the 1961 Ingmar Bergman film of the same name, although both movies do share a somber tone that’s millions of miles away from Shit & Champagne. Lauren Fash’s film concerns the disappearance of a woman’s daughter in a small Southern town. Robyn Lively, who had roles in Teen Witch and Twin Peaks, leads the cast.
In the U.S. Feature category, Steve Zahn stars in Cowboys. He plays Troy, the best kind of father a transgender child could hope for. Troy is just an ordinary guy. Given his outward appearance in dusty blue jeans and his Red State locale, he comes across as an unlikely ally. But Zahn’s remarkably adept at showing what it means to be a good father. When his daughter tells him she doesn’t want to wear dresses anymore, Troy pauses and really listens.
Rialto is an Irish film that’s part of the World Cinema category. What’s most notable about the movie is that it focuses on a middle-aged man coming to terms with his sexuality late in life. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor stars as Colm, an ostensibly heterosexual married man who falls for a young hustler. The director Peter Mackie Burns has chosen an actor without a perfect jawline, abs of steel or a full head of hair. It’s refreshing to see a character on screen who doesn’t fit into stereotypical depictions of gay men.
For those of you who have been missing the original incarnation of The L Word, one of the principal actors from the TV series returns in Beautiful Dreamer. Written by local playwright Patricia Cotter (The Daughters), Erin Daniels plays a writer suffering from writer’s block. This ensemble feature about her extended group of friends was shot in San Francisco and is also categorized as a U.S. Feature.
Other categories to look for are a Spotlight on Taiwan (featuring two films in Mandarin) and several categories of short films including Animation, Bi Candy, Enby Love: Non-Binary Shorts and International Short Dramas.
The Homegrown shorts category is a diverse mix of local filmmakers’ fictional and documentary films. Nico Opper and Shannon St. Aubin’s When I Write It about two Black teenagers is set in Oakland. Another film, Carving Space, is about queer skateboarders and features Jeffrey Cheung and his partner Gabriel Ramirez, founders of the Oakland-based Unity Skateboarding. That Was Ray focuses on the life of Reverend Raymond “Ray” Broshears who founded The Lavender Panthers in the 1970s. And I’ll Cry Tomorrow is Brett Thomas’ found footage of living through the AIDS pandemic in 1986.
Frameline44 plays virtually September 17-27, 2020.