San Francisco sports an incredible array of film festivals, from silent and noir to global themes. Few, however, offer quite as colorful and intriguing an array of programming as Frameline, which presents the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival each June during Gay Pride Month.
Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, the festival is centered at the Castro Theatre, though events will also be held around town at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Temple Nightclub, the Roxie and Victoria theaters, and at the Elmwood in Berkeley.
Among the high-profile entries are opening night’s “Gun Hill Road,” about a teen exploring the boundaries of gender under his father’s suspicious eye (played by Esai Morales), and closing night’s “Christopher and His Kind,” about writer Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin years that inspired the musical “Cabaret.”
Frameline’s international side speaks with many accents, including France’s “Tomboy,” about a lonely 10-year-old girl who passes as a boy to make new friends; “Three,” about a German ménage a trois in which none of the three know what the other two are doing; and the British film “Weekend,” where two decidedly different gay men stretch a one-night stand into a discourse on life.
Three documentaries focus on the coming-out and transgender-transition experience while under the celebrity spotlight. Country music star Chely Wright shares the planning and the feelings of risking her career by being an out lesbian in “Wish Me Away.” Both directions of the transgender journey are explored in “Renée,” about tennis star Richard Raskin’s life as Renée Richards, and “Becoming Chaz” follows Sonny and Cher’s little girl on the path to manhood.
Those are just eight titles from more than 200 spread through 10 days of diverse offerings — including themed clusters of short films — about local heroes, global initiatives, historical perspectives and an 18-minute zombie lesbian musical from Australia.
Performers, directors and writers from several films will be present at their screenings, and Margaret Cho shows off “Cho Dependent,” her new concert film, and receives this year’s Frameline Award.
As if all that were not enough, the folks at Frameline have two more reasons to celebrate this year. Frameline Distribution has been connecting independent LGBT films with the exhibition and home or institutional video markets for 30 years.
Simultaneously, the Frameline Completion Fund celebrates 20 years of helping bring films like the recent AIDS documentary “We Were Here” by David Weissman to fruition by granting more than $300,000 to LGBT filmmakers, with particular encouragement to women, people of color and transgender people.
IF YOU GO
Where: Many screenings at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F., along with other San Francisco and Berkeley theaters
When: Today through June 26
Tickets: $9 to $11 for most films; $15 to $90 for special events
Contact: (415) 703-8655, www.frameline.org