Frameline Organizers Credit Film Fest for Furthering Queer Cinema

Frameline Film Festival planners attribute the San Francisco-based festival for furthering queer cinema and filmmakers For nearly half a century, Frameline has celebrated queer stories — and queer identity — with the San Francisco Intl

Published Time: 19.06.2024 - 22:31:26 Modified Time: 19.06.2024 - 22:31:26

Frameline Film Festival planners attribute the San Francisco-based festival for furthering queer cinema and filmmakers

For nearly half a century, Frameline has celebrated queer stories — and queer identity — with the San Francisco Intl. LGBTQ+ Film Festival. It’s the oldest and longest-running festival of its kind in the world and, with an annual attendance of more than 60,000 for the 120-plus screenings (curated from more than 1,600 submissions and invitations), Frameline48 will once again be a major presence in the Golden Gate city this month.

That’s fitting, says Allegra Madsen, Frameline’s executive director, since San Francisco is “the queerest city ever and a beacon to the queer community worldwide.”

While the event “chugged along for years doing the classic festival thing,” Madsen notes that since the pandemic, it has become “a really responsive festival,” adapting and adjusting each year. With its home base of the Castro Theatre temporarily closed for renovations, Madsen will build on the fest’s “Neighborhood Nights” theme from last year and emphasize its connection to the Bay Area. Screenings will be held at historic venues such as the Roxie Theater, the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, the Herbst Theatre, the Vogue Theatre and the New Parkway Theater in Oakland. “This is like a new festival,” Madsen says, adding that organizers will continue this practice even after the Castro reopens. “It’s important for us to not be rigid or locked in, and to meet our audiences where they are.”

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She says this approach also helps the smaller, locally owned theaters that make the city special, but are struggling. “It’s part of our duty to make sure these spaces are appreciated and loved.”

The festival is also expanding into the local community by ditching the traditional opening night show for the first-ever Castro neighborhood celebration of Juneteenth with a free outdoor event and block party that will include a screening of “Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero.”

Joe Bowman, a Frameline programmer, says getting the festival into local theaters can help attract people who may be unfamiliar with film festivals and with this one in particular. “Doing this in such a big, exciting way can hopefully touch base with different communities,” he says.

Bowman, who has been with Frameline for more than a decade, says th -

at in that time, he has observed more diverse voices and subjects being explored. “Queer cinema today doesn’t just have to follow the narratives and tracks we’re used to,” he says. “Movies can deal with queer themes and queer people without telling the same stories over and over.”

One of his favorites this year is “Una Película Barata,” about “two lost souls who knew each other when they were younger and create life and enjoyment over the course of this summer — but it’s also an ode to cinema.” Bowman adds that it’s especially exciting for him because the festival had previously exhibited a short by its writer-director Osama Chami, saying,

“It’s rewarding to foster these filmmakers through the various stages of their careers.” Madsen says “Fragments of a Life Loved” is one of her favorites this year. “It’s incredibly romantic, but also very uncomfortable. Essentially, it’s as if you gave all of your former lovers carte blanche to tell your story back to you,” she says. “It’s captivating.” Indeed, Frameline has played an important role in helping queer cinema flourish, not just through the festival but through Frameline Distribution, the only nonprofit distributor that solely caters to LGBTQ+ film, and through its Frameline completion fund grants. Since 1990, more than 190 films and videos have been completed with assistance from the fund, usually with support for final editing and lab work.

“I think the fund is the unsung part of Frameline,” Madsen says. “The festival is splashy and big fun, but we’re also doing this critical work making sure that amazing filmmakers have the opportunity to finish their films.” This year’s festival will feature both a restored version of “Go Fish,” a fund grantee back in 1994, which went on to be a Sundance sensation, and “In the Summers,” a fund recipient last year, which won the Grand Jury Prize (U.S. Dramatic) at Sundance this year. We nurture these queer films and filmmakers,” Madsen says.

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