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A Frameline Diary: Films, Galas, Photos and more...

A Frameline Diary: Films, Galas, Photos and more...

New contributor Ashley Love kept a diary of her trip to San Francisco's fantastic LGBT film fest Frameline. She takes you through screenings of The Secret Diaries of Anne Lister, Cathy DeBuono and Jill Bennett's We Have to Stop Now, Howl, Cheryl Dunye and Guinevere Turner's The Owls, Hooters, Transtastic, Madonna and Elvis and much more! 

As Los Angeles is gearing up for its film festival extravaganza Outfest, new SheWired contributor Ashley Love reflects on the amazing LGBT Film Festival Frameline that ended last week in San Francisco. 

 The funnest time to be in San Francisco is the second part of June!  Not only is June national LGBT pride month, but The San Francisco LGBT Film Festival Frameline also happens from June 17th to 26th. Frameline has been helping transsexual, transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and intersex people and their allies tell LGBT stories since 1977. From the legendary Castro theatre, to San Fran being the capital of documentary filmmakers, to many LGBT artists, activists and storytellers residing here, San Francisco has been an influential breeding ground for LGBT people to showcase their cinematic visions to the world.  Frameline has pioneered high amounts of trans inclusion in programming and development of trans artists, and even throws trans-specific events, parties and panels. 

 Frameline's Director of Programming Jennifer Morris second from right, Ashley Love far right.

Frameline’s opening night movie was the US premiere of the BBC film The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister,  which played at The Castro Theatre to a full house. It was based on the true story of Anne Lister, a lesbian woman born in the late 1700’s in Halifax, England. Anne recorded a coded diary in which she documented her same gender loving affairs: from her first adult true love, to the best friend with hidden affections, to the woman who would be her companion until her death.   Anne’s family’s wealth and influence made her self-sufficient; she was not resigned to marry a man for security as most lesbian and bisexual women in her day felt the need to do so to survive.  Her pioneering bravery, accomplishments and clever and valuable documentation of her sexuality makes for an impactful story. The director and producer flew in from England give a thought provoking Q & A after the film. The next morning, a documentary called The Real Anne Lister was screened, which was so compelling it won the Frameline Volunteer Award.


At the Opening Night Gala

After the opening night film, the gala was held at the Botanical Gardens at Golden Gate Park. I was happy to run into so many friends and associates at the party, it was like a family reunion. People from all over the world come to the opening night gala, including many film festival programmers/directors from other states and countries, to filmmakers themselves.

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It was truly a thriving circle of people all focused on an unified objective: pushing forward the LGBT community through creating images that humanize, provoke dialog and tell our stories with our own expression. I saw people I knew from LA, NY, other US states, Canada, Central and South America and Europe.

Opening Night Gala 

The next day, Friday, I saw The Owls, directed by lesbian filmmaker pioneer Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman, My Baby's Daddy). It was a full house, and most of the cast and crew attended. Guinevere Turner, lesbian director, actress and screenwriter (Go Fish, American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page), was in the row behind me, accompanied by Tracy Chapman, the popular folk singer.

Cheryl Dunye, Ashley and Guin Turner

Turner not only acts in the film, but was part of the collective of the queer collective of filmmakers, put together by Dunye, who all participated in the making and story of the film. The film is a rare combo of narrative and documentary, which looks into the lives of a group of O.W.L.’s (Older Wiser Lesbians) coming to terms with reaching middle age, faltering relationships, disappointed expectations, generational conflict and even confronted the loaded topic of the lesbian/dyke/queer community’s intersection with the trans guy’s community. 

The Owls cast and creators.


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The following day, Saturday, the documentary called Hooters screened,-- by French director Anna Margarita Albelo--which is a film about the making of The Owls, and pushes the envelope of conversation regarding the queer community even more so. Hooters features interviews with the cast and crew on a variety of topics, but the most heated and divisive conversation the cast and crew had was the topic of whether or not the topic of trans men and their issues should be included in the film. Thankfully, the issue was spotlighted.

Also on Saturday I saw Madonna and Elvis, which is about two gender non-conforming people from opposite sides of the spectrum falling in love. Madonna is a self identified “transvestite” who does drag and meets a leather jacket wearing, short-haired lesbian woman who is nicknamed Elvis. It was quite an unusual match, and though it seemed a bit unrealistic of a pair, love does not follow convention, which made it very entertaining.

Here Media's (and SheWired's good friend), Andrea Krauss with Ashley.

On Monday I attended a party thrown by Frameline called “Trans Party,” held  at Supperclub.  There was live music from some of San Francisco’s hottest music acts, such as Lipstick Conspiracy (an all trans girl rock band), Katastrophe ( a trans guy rapper and pioneer in adding the “T” in hip-hop), Joshua Klipp (a trans guy singer and dancer who is very popular on Logo’s music video show), and Shana Virago (a trans rocker goddess). Frameline is the only film festival I know who throws such festive parties specifically catered to the trans part of the community.

Ashley with Lipstick Conspiracy

Tuesday featured a string of shorts dealing with LGBT parents. A few stood out for me. In Hens and Chicks, a girl asks her lesbian mothers, “Who’s MY rooster,” and then begins an emotional situation in which her mothers contemplate how to tell their daughter how she was conceived. This film is also suitable for children to watch, and I could easily see LGBT organizations that focus on alternative families using this as a conversational aid. In Gayby, a straight woman asks her gay friend from collage if he’d like to have a child with her, the natural way.  Lily’s Image was very endearing, as we saw through the innocent eyes of a young girl in how she perceives her unusual family, in which her father left her mother to be with a man. She makes art to articulate her family identity, since in children’s books and TV she does not see herself. A very special film!

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On Wednesday, Celesbians Jill Bennett and Cathy DeBuono -- girlfriends in real life -- screened We Have To Stop Now, a quirky and fun series that tell the story of a lesbian couple – who also happen to be therapists -- drifting apart, but who are drawn back together when their relationship book becomes a bestseller, inspiring them to stay together to for professional reasons. It’s good to see out lesbian actresses playing lesbian characters. The series also stars Suzanne Westenhoefer and features cameos by recently out television star Meredith Baxter.

Cathy DeBuono, Ashley, Jill Bennett

Thursday, I was at Frameline events all day and night! First there was a panel called “Says Who? Gender Variant Representation In The Media”. The controversy of the misogynistic and transphobic film Ticked Off Trans[misogyny] With Knives was mentioned as an event that inspired the conversation, and I was relieved that Frameline did not give into some of the drag queens and “insensitive to transsexual women” gay men who were rallying in support of the film. Frameline, LA’s Outfest, New York’s Newfest and most LGBT film festivals around the world made the socially conscious and responsible decision not to show the propaganda against transsexual women. Though the misrepresentation of transsexual women through the gay male media mafia lens is a big part of the controversy, I was disappointed that neither the moderator, Julian Carter, nor any of the panelists brought it up. At first I was alarmed when I saw that no transsexual or intersex people were on the panel (mainly gender queer and transgender folks were asked to speak), but they did cover some content pertaining to transsexual women, and was a good conversation starter.

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Next was the series of different trans people themed shorts called Transtatsic. My favorite short was Everyday To Stay, in which a trans guy and his girlfriend open up in an intimate exploration into how a trans man deals with transition, and how it effects his girlfriend, who has mixed emotions. This is a triumph of love story. Another short I liked was called Falling in Love… with Chris and Greg, and was a comedic  look into a relationship between to gay guys, one who is a trans guy struggling to keep the relationship form drowning, and the other a cis gender gay man dealing with “Castro gay guy body image issues” (as his boyfriend expresses). The discussion of queer politics and trans identity is brought up multiple times, and was filled with some of the most clever quotes.

Women's Brunch

The Purple Sea is a powerful drama based on a true story that takes place in old world Europe, where, at times, women would pass for men in order to gain privileges denied to women.  A lesbian daughter of an influential man expresses she would rather die than marry a man.  Her father tries to force her into a fixed marriage, but his abuse does not sway her to be a slave under contract.  It’s arranged for her to dress as a man, and she is able to marry her female lover.  It is a very intense and tragic story.

Ashley with some Frameline filmmakers. 

Sunday June 27th, the closing night film was Howl, starring the talented and handsome James Franco as infamous openly gay poet Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg’s “ceiling piercing” poetry was the subject that catapulted a historical freedom of speech court case, and was a major achievement for anti-censorship rights. It was also a victory for the gay community to have the right to be out and unashamed. It was a piece of art work, and even had animation, and a talented cast. Following the film the closing night gala was again at the Botanical Gardens, and the awards were given out for the films.

Cast and creators of Howl.

This was a very amazing film festival, and watching so many humanizing images of LGBT people on screen was very empowering and inspiring.  Now all of a sudden I want to write and direct my own film so it can be at Frameline one day! 

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