Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pride: busting out all over the world

June heralds a celebration of gay pride all over the world - indeed, the month was thusly resanctified in the US by President Obama. Here in San Francisco, the two weeks before our Pride Parade means Frameline, the world's longest-running festival of GLBT films. It's in full swing, and we've happily sampled some of the offerings.

Frameline's gone back in the vaults to reevaluate the cinema of Andy Warhol, and there was no way we were going to miss the final screening in the well-curated retrospective. Vinyl (1965) is a challenging, deliberately/proudly amateurish and sleazy (but never boring) film, shot in three continuous takes, with its principals crammed into a corner of the Factory for a free-wheeling and sexed-up parable of the abuses of power. A friend was startled afterward to find that it had been based on A Clockwork Orange - though it lacks Kubrick's narrative drive and meticulousness, Vinyl's powerful opening pullout from a closeup of star Gerald Maranga had to have been an influence on Kubrick's better-known adaptation.

The Castro Theatre screening of David Weissman's We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years In San Francisco was going to be a potent experience, and it was a pleasure to experience this wonderful film with an audience full of folks who had witnessed and survived that tumultuous period (as well as a younger audience who came to share and learn). Through interviews with five men and women Weissman conjures a far-reaching powerful portrait of the larger community's struggles with the lethal epidemic, and gives voice to the strong individual and collective indentities that were forged in those tumultuous years. Everyone cried. Weissman is trying to have the film broadcast next year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the epidemic, but I wish it would release wide tomorrow - there's an urgency and vividness to the film that makes you want to share it with everyone.

But other films await sharing at Frameline, which continues thru Sunday. And if you can't make it to Frameline, there remain, of course, an abundance of appropriate films on Jaman that await your discovery.

Happy Pride, everyone!

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