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KIKI, Frameline40: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival


Thursday, June 16 @ 7:00pm
Castro Theatre
$75 Frameline members
(must be 21+ to attend Opening Night Gala)
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DIR Sara Jordenö 2016 USA, Sweden 94 min

More than two decades after Paris Is Burning introduced the world to the New York ballroom scene, it’s time to clear the dance floor for Kiki: this vibrant, eye-opening documentary fast-forwards us into today’s unapologetically flamboyant and political subculture of performance, now centered on LGBTQ youth of color who are redefining realness and family through artistry.

True to its legacy, Kiki delivers over-the-top ballroom scenes pulsing with creativity and energy, as backs are slammed and chops are given—all underscored by music from Qween Beat. But director Sara Jordenö and co-writer Twiggy Pucci Garçon (a Kiki scene House Mother) take the motto of the ballroom youths to heart: “Not About Us Without Us.” In a full artistic collaboration, they bring us deep inside the lives of Kiki scene members like Gia Marie Love, Queen Mother of the House of Juicy—an activist and a shining star who displays equal portions of bravado and vulnerability—and Chi Chi Mizrahi, Founding Mother and creator of the House of Unbothered-Cartier, whose playful spirit and leadership allow community members to flourish.

Kiki reveals a world that is not only a fun safe haven for people who might feel on society’s margins, but also an important rallying point for youth development and activism. Although full of hope, Kiki’s participants are quick to point out that young people of color in LGBTQ communities still deal with disproportionate homicide and suicide rates, harassment by law enforcement, lack of access to life-saving resources, and homelessness—survival issues often left out of mainstream gay initiatives. Kiki bears joyous witness to dynamic young people overcoming adversity and lifting each other up in communities of chosen family, where they are not just surviving, but thriving.


This film is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund grant.


LOOKING, Frameline40: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival


Sunday, June 26 @ 7:00pm
Castro Theatre
$50 Frameline members 
(must be 21+ to attend Closing Night Party)
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DIR Andrew Haigh 2016 USA 86 min

For fans of HBO’s breakthrough series Looking, news of the show’s impending end stung like a breakup. Wooed for two seasons by the intimate exploits of Patrick Murray (Jonathan Groff), Agustín Lanuez (Frankie J. Alvarez), and Dom Basaluzzo (Murray Bartlett), three handsome but imperfect gay friends living in San Francisco, viewers fell irresistibly in love and were reluctant to say goodbye. It’s fitting then that Looking, the movie, is about the sweet release of closure—and, like recovering from the end of a toe-curling romance, it will leave audiences, aficionados and newcomers alike, feeling renewed.

Looking begins with video game designer Patrick returning to San Francisco for the wedding of bestie Agustín to adorable bear Eddie (Daniel Franzese). Patrick left the Bay Area several months earlier—for a job, he says, but with a lovesick expression that suggests otherwise. Celebratory reunions with hunky restaurateur Dom and the ever-hilarious Doris (Lauren Weedman) ensue, as do multiple erotic minglings, old and new. Whether Patrick reconciles with bad-news-boss Kevin (Russell Tovey), renews his relationship with sexy charmer Richie (Raúl Castillo), or chooses the non-committed life, we will not say, letting you savor the potent particulars as they unfold.

Director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years) and co-creator Michael Lannan evoke a genuine sense of people and place. From partying at The Stud, to bonding on Indian Rock, to getting down and dirty at home, Looking is rendered in the same radically real style that made the series a watershed in the presentation of ordinary gay lives. Our characters are still flawed, messy, and complex, but they’ve also matured, and like the transformed city in which they reside, their optimism and beauty of spirit are what ultimately prevail.



SOUTHWEST OF SALEM, Frameline40: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival


Monday, June 20 @ 6:30pm
Castro Theatre
$12 Frameline members

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DIR Deborah Esquenazi 2016 USA 89 min

During the “Satanic ritual abuse panic” of the 1980–90s, a pervasive fear rang throughout conservative communities and the media as cult activity, sexual perversion, and homosexuality were often linked as interconnected “evils.” (Remember the West Memphis Three of the Paradise Lost documentaries?) At the tail end of this hysteria came the disconcerting case of four Latina lesbian women in San Antonio, Texas, who in 1994 were accused of a heinous sexual assault against two young girls. Southwest of Salem is an extraordinary account of the nightmare that unfolded for these women—a nightmare that continues to this day.

At first the women cooperated with authorities, facing the initial baseless accusations with faith that the truth would prevail. Yet the trials were marred by the bias of a homophobic police department, jury, and court; their sexuality criminalized, the women were convicted and received sentences ranging from 15 to 37 years. The film charts the remarkable efforts of The Innocence Project (fans of the podcast Serial will be familiar with the organization), whose lawyers work tirelessly to debunk outdated scientific evidence and to ally with one of the alleged victims (now an adult) during their epic fight for exoneration.  

The interplay of home movies and intimate interviews from prison offer stirring insight into this tight-knit group of friends and how their lives have been devastated by these ghastly accusations. Emotional and heart-wrenching, director Deborah Esquenazi’s frank examination of the rampant prejudice and systemic failings of the criminal justice system sets itself apart from the current proliferation of wrongful-conviction stories by focusing on the personal impact on the women and their families.


This film contains discussions of sexual assault.


BEING 17, Frameline40: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival


Quand on a 17 ans

Tuesday, June 21 @ 7:00pm
Castro Theatre
$12 Frameline members

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DIR André Téchiné 2016 France 116 min

In French with English subtitles

Ah, youth, that time of life when hormonal imperatives take over and confusion reigns. For Thomas and Damien, high school classmates in the remote French Pyrenees, increased testosterone and unspoken feelings have created a rivalry they find difficult to understand, leading to occasional outbursts of violence. The two couldn’t be more different: Thomas (striking newcomer Corentin Fila) is the adopted child of rural mountain farmers, commuting by bus and foot for more than three hours to get to and from school. Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) is more urbane, sporting an earring and declaiming Rimbaud in class. As the boys’ animosity intensifies, Damien’s mother, Marianne, the village physician—a wonderfully warm Sandrine Kiberlain (Violette, Frameline38)—finds herself treating Thomas’s mother for a difficult pregnancy and invites Thomas to live with them for a while. The boys’ increased proximity, and the pressure to put aside their differences under Marianne’s watchfulness, may lead to a detente, but it also sets the stage for a complicated emotional reckoning for both of them.

More than 20 years ago, director André Téchiné’s Wild Reeds, a study of gay adolescence, became an instant classic, and he returns to similar themes with Being 17. If anything, this new effort is even more complex and alluring, exploring the sometimes too-close connection between attraction and violence, the push and pull of family ties, and Thomas’s passion for nature. Gloriously filmed in the mountains of southwest France, and with delicately nuanced performances from the entire cast, Being 17 is another masterwork from Téchiné (whose The Witnesses opened Frameline31).



AWOL, Frameline40: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival


Wednesday, June 22 @ 6:30pm
Castro Theatre
$12 Frameline members

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DIR Deb Shoval 2016 USA 95 min

Recent high school grad Joey (Lola Kirke, Mozart in the Jungle and Mistress America) is scooping ice cream at the local fair when she meets Rayna (Breeda Wool, UnREAL), a leggy blonde in Daisy Dukes who likes drinking and flirting, and who has a weakness for “them tomboys,” as her grandmother calls them. Rayna takes Joey home along with some ice cream, and soon Joey is head-over-heels in love and lust—even after she discovers that the older woman has a couple of kids and a trucker husband named Roy.

Based on the award-winning short film of the same name (Frameline35), this story of star-crossed love provides a nuanced depiction of working-class life in rural America. Director Deb Shoval gets the details right, from Joey’s series of dead-end jobs to the car on blocks outside Rayna’s trailer house. The film finds gritty beauty in the scuffed basements, bars, malls, and meadows where Joey and her friends work and play. It observes the gradations of class within Joey’s circle: Joey’s sister looks down on Rayna as a welfare-check-collecting freeloader, and Joey’s mother desperately wants Joey to join the army, her one shot at college.

Tensions mount as Rayna and Joey’s relationship moves from summertime fling to something more serious. While the pair are creative about setting up clandestine meetings—in a barn, the front seat of a pickup, and, most memorably, a tent—they have a harder time imagining a life together. “Would you go into the army if you were rich?” asks a college-going lesbian friend of Joey. “Probably not,” she answers laconically. In this movie, the price of same-sex love is steepest for those who can least afford it.


This film is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund grant.