THE YEAR’S BEST QUEER CINEMA AT FRAMELINE39: the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival

Frameline39: the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival has announced several highlights for this year’s renowned showcase for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer cinema. Frameline, the world’s oldest and largest LGBTQ film festival, will be held June 18-28, 2015 in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland; with San Francisco screenings at the historic Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street), Roxie Theater (3117 16th Street), and Victoria Theatre (2961 16th Street), in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood (2966 College Avenue), and new this year, in Oakland at Landmark’s Piedmont Theatre (4186 Piedmont Avenue). The Festival showcases international imports from Kenya, Venezuela, Lithuania, Thailand, France, and Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as local gems.

Frameline39

Frameline39: There’s No Place Like Here… the 39th San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival celebrates an exceptional experience that unites diverse communities across an ever evolving cinematic landscape for 11 days of innovative and socially relevant film. Commemorate legendary filmmakers, discover emerging talents, and join the inimitable community of festivalgoers that distinguish the world’s oldest and largest celebration of queer cinema. Frameline39 pays tribute to LGBTQ experiences through revelatory documentaries, captivating features, enchanting shorts, cinematic classics, and more.
With an expected attendance of 65,000, the 11 days of Frameline39 promises to draw film lovers, media artists, and LGBTQ communities from the Bay Area and all across the globe to discover the best in queer cinema. More than 30 countries will be represented, including Kenya, Venezuela, Lithuania, Thailand, France, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
I AM MICHAEL / DIR Justin Kelly / USA

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Starring James Franco and Zachary Quinto, director Justin Kelly’s much-talked-about drama I AM MICHAEL tells the controversial true story of Michael Glatze, a former San Francisco-based gay rights activist who renounces homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor.

CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE
SUMMER OF SANGAILE / DIR Alanté Kavaïté / Lithuania, France, Netherlands

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Sangaile is a brooding teen trapped in a cage of adolescent fear and self-doubt when she meets vivacious, outgoing Auste at an aeronautics show. This is a sumptuously shot, subtly told story of the transformative power of first love.
CENTERPIECE DOCUMENTARY
OUT TO WIN / DIR Malcolm Ingram / USA, Canada

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Featuring interviews with sports legends Martina Navratilova, David Kopay, Jason Collins, Brittney Griner, and many others, this inspiring documentary from director Malcolm Ingram (Small Town Gay Bar, Frameline30; Continental, Frameline37) takes a powerful look at the struggles and triumphs of LGBTQ athletes in pro sports and leaves everyone cheering.

CLOSING NIGHT FILM
BARE / DIR Natalia Leite / USA, Canada

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Sarah is trapped in nowheresville Nevada when the worldly drifter Pepper blows into town and opens her eyes to life’s possibilities. But is Sarah being seduced by a wily user, or is she herself using Pepper to break free?

FRAMELINE AWARD
Established in 1986, the Frameline Award is given every year to a person or entity that has made a major contribution to LGBTQ representation in film, television, or the media arts. The 2015 Frameline Award will honor queer documentarian Jeffrey Schwarz for his wide-ranging contributions in documenting LGBTQ figures and queer history. Frameline will also present the Bay Area premiere of Schwarz’s latest film, TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL.

TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL / DIR Jeffrey Schwarz / USA


From the earliest years of Hollywood,we, as movie (and television) viewers have had the pleasure of seeing (and lusting after) some of the sexiest men who ever lived. But none was more sexier than Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter. Following the rapturously received I Am Divine (Frameline37) and Vito (classic documentaries, in and of themselves), director Jeffrey Schwarz vibrantly recalls the rollercoaster life and career of formerly closeted 1950s Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter in this lively and fascinating documentary. Furthermore, at 84 years old, he’s still sex on a stick. (see a review of the documentary from SXSW here.) It’s a must-see documentary of a less-liberal time in Hollywood and America; and a cautionary tale for today’s Hollywood stars.

ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS AT FRAMELINE39
The Festival, will also host the following highly anticipated screenings:

54: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT / DIR Mark Christopher / USA
After nearly 17 years, director Mark Christopher has re-cut his disco-driven romantic drama 54 into the glitterier, grittier, and gayer version he originally intended. Ryan Philippe stars as an opportunistic busboy ensnared in a bisexual love triangle with the coat-check girl (Salma Hayek) and the bartender (Breckin Meyer), all set against the backdrop of New York’s Studio 54 disco nightclub overseen by Steve Rubell (Mike Myers).

DO I SOUND GAY? / DIR David Thorpe / USA

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Is there such a thing as a “gay voice”? Why do some people “sound gay” but not others? Why are gay voices a mainstay of pop culture—but also a trigger for anti-gay harassment? This light-hearted yet thought-provoking quest to understand “gay voice” explores these questions and more in revealing interviews with Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Don Lemon, Dan Savage, David Sedaris, and George Takei.

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LIZ IN SEPTEMBER / DIR Fina Torres / Venezuela
A tight-knit group of lesbian friends are enjoying their annual vacation on a beautiful Caribbean beach when Eva, a straight stranger, crashes the party. On a dare, the group’s heartbreaker Liz launches a seduction, with results that surprise them both. Continue reading

Celebrate LGBT Pride Month with POV’s ‘Out in the Night’ on June 22

Four Young African-American Women, Sexually Harassed on a New York Street, Fight Back in ‘Out in the Night,’ Kicking Off POV’s 28th Season on PBS on Monday, June 22, 2015

Labeled a Gang of “Killer Lesbians,” Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson, Venice Brown and Terrain Dandridge  Tell Their Story For the First Time, Recalling Their Uphill Battle in the Courts of Law and Public Opinion

POV’s 28th season on PBS begins Monday, June 22 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) with blair dorosh-walther’s Out in the Night, which follows the lives of four African-American lesbians from Newark, N.J., as they face the charges and convictions for for defending themselves in an anti-LGBT attack.

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In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of “Killer Lesbians” and a “Wolf Pack.” Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four — Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain — maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women’s uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system.

Out in the Night opens with audio clips from police radio dispatches describing “officers fighting with gangs, Bloods and Crips” followed by a reference to “approximately five female blacks,” then to a “gentleman that was stabbed by . . . girls.” There were a number of inaccuracies in these dispatches, but the pictures they painted set the stage for the sensational story of four young women–Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson, Venice Brown and Terrain Dandridge–that followed.

 The so-called "New Jersey 4": Venice, Terrain, Patreese and Renata.

The so-called “New Jersey 4”: Venice, Terrain, Patreese and Renata. Photo Credit: Lyric Cabral

 

The film marks the first time that the women have told their side of the story. Two women are the film’s primary focus: Renata, a single mother of a 5-year-old son, and Patreese, a petite 4-foot-11-inch femme-identified poet. As they and their friends strolled beneath the neon lights of the Village in 2006, they were confronted by 28-year-old Dwayne Buckle, who was selling DVDs. “Let me get some of that,” he said to Patreese, pointing below her waist. When she told him she was gay, he threatened to force the women “straight” through rape. He threw a lit cigarette, yanked out a handful of Venice’s hair and began to choke Renata. Thinking one of her friends was “about to die,” Patreese pulled a knife from her purse and stabbed him. Strangers jumped in to defend the women and the fight escalated. The entire incident, captured by security cameras, lasted four minutes. When it was over, everyone walked away.

The women were immediately arrested, even though the footage shows many people were involved in the altercation and the officers said the man’s wound appeared to be minor. The seven women were charged with gang assault, assault and attempted murder. Three pled guilty to avoid a trial and potentially lengthy prison time. Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain maintained their innocence and their right to self-defense.

A media frenzy followed. “The headline writers had a very good time,” says New York Post writer Laura Italiano about her paper’s “Attack of the Killer Lesbians” story. Other headlines included “Girls Gone Wilding” and “Man Is Stabbed in Attack After Admiring a Stranger.”

 filmmaker blair dorosh-walther (left)

filmmaker blair dorosh-walther (left). Photo Credit: Lyric Cabral

I wanted to understand why this man was considered, in the mainstream news media, as a potential suitor and not a threat,” says filmmaker blair dorosh-walther. “Why weren’t these women seen as survivors of violent, homophobic harassment? And why were a group of friends with no criminal records, who were not a gang, being charged as a gang?

People kept hearing ‘gang assault,’” says attorney Lori Cohen who, with Susan Tipograph, defended Renata at trial, “and it brings up an image in your head that doesn’t really apply here. . . . You see [the man] in the surveillance tape. He clearly was coming at them in an aggressive manner.” But, explains New York Police Department arresting officer Christopher O’Hare, “By law if three or more people are involved in beating someone, it’s a gang assault.

Out in the Night: A documentary film by blair dorosh-walther.  Image of Venice Brown. Photo Credit: Lyric Cabral

Out in the Night: A documentary film by blair dorosh-walther. Image of Venice Brown. Photo Credit: Lyric Cabral

Despite the man’s testimony at trial that the women came out of nowhere, that all he said was “hello” and that he was defenseless and terrified, Laura Italiano says, “Myself and other members of the press were getting a fuller picture of his views on the right of men to ogle women and shout out things as they walked by.”

In April 2007 the four women were found guilty. Two were sent to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison, and two were sent to Albion Correctional Facility, 48 miles from the Canadian border. Continue reading