Films Are Dynamic Agents Of Social Justice At Frameline40


San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival Serves as a Platform for Voices and Ideas Normally Not Seen in Mainstream Media

San Francisco, CA — Frameline40: The King of Queer Film Festivals, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, continues its legacy to find and highlight game-changing stories made by and for the full spectrum of the queer community. This mission, born out of a political climate that demanded visibility during a time when the LGBTQ community was actively made invisible, is as strong and relevant in today's contentious social and political climate as it was in the past.

Since 1977, Frameline has been asking key questions, not only about who gets to be seen on-screen, but also about how they are represented and by whom. As part of a special initiative supported by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Frameline40 presents In Whose Image? LGBTQ Storytelling 1977-Today, a series of film screenings and panel discussions that reflect upon and contextualize a powerful body of filmmaking from Frameline's founding year through today. Retrospective screenings include landmark documentaries from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, while two panel discussions dive into current topics energizing LGBTQ filmmaking today.

With over 22 films and a pair of interactive panels representing this movement and mission, Frameline40 continues to spearhead the charge into a more visible and accepting future.


LGBTQ Film As An Agent Of Social Change: Then & Now
Frameline's 40th anniversary offers a prime opportunity to take stock of extraordinary strides in both the world of cinema and broader social change, as LGBTQ filmmaking has made its impact. Authentic portrayals of LGBTQ lives — through documentaries in particular — have played a significant role in establishing visibility, promoting social and political progress, and shifting attitudes toward the LGBTQ community. From landmark films that have screened throughout the Festival's history, such as the Frameline23 Audience Award-winning LIVING WITH PRIDE: RUTH C. ELLIS @ 100, to those making waves today, like Frameline40 Opening Night film KIKI and Centerpiece SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR, we reflect upon LGBTQ documentaries - and the change makers behind them - that push forward important narratives, and explore the opportunities and challenges facing filmmakers eager to make a measurable social impact now. Moderator Peter L. Stein (Senior Programmer, Frameline40), will host panelists Deborah Esquenazi (Director, SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR), Sara Jordenö (Director, KIKI), Ellen Schneider (Founder, Active Voice) and Johnny Symons (Director/Producer, OUT RUN).

Trans Stories — On Film And Online
With queer stories on mainstream film and television, the LGBTQ community has never been more visible on big, small, or even mobile screens. But when it comes to trans and gender expansive people telling their own stories, online portals are host to the most riveting and impactful narratives. New wave "television" strongholds like Amazon and Netflix have disseminated trans stories into the collective zeitgeist through series like ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and TRANSPARENT. Online content is an even more robust endeavor; from highly produced groundbreaking online series, such as Frameline Completion Fund awardee HER STORY, to everyday individuals documenting their own experiences on YouTube, Vine, and Tumblr. The impact is an online culture that influences how trans and gender expansive people find themselves, and how they interact with those who have come before them. In this panel, we will discuss what trans and gender expansive stories look like both on film and online, and how the power of film media impacts change in the community. Moderator Sam Berliner (Festival Director, Translations Film Festival; Director, Producer, FLOAT, DATING SUCKS: A GENDERQUEER MISADVENTURE) will speak with panelists Rhys Ernst (Director, THIS IS ME, WE'VE BEEN AROUND; Producer, TRANSPARENT), Jeffrey Marsh (Vine star, Social Media Guru, author How to Be You), Jen Richards (Writer, Producer, Actor, HER STORY) and Angelica Ross (Actor, HER STORY; Founder of @TransTechSocial).


HER STORY: SEASON ONE / DIR Sydney Freeland / 2015 / USA / 55 min
The much anticipated sexy new-media series grapples forthrightly with the frictions and fissures of desire between trans and queer women, as they navigate sometimes paradoxical identities in Los Angeles.


THE CELLULOID CLOSET / DIRS Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman / 1995 / USA / 102 min
Exactly twenty years after its theatrical release, San Francisco-based documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's monumental film remains an indispensable-and profoundly moving-record of the way Hollywood depicted gays and lesbians throughout the 20th century.

CHECK IT / DIRS Dana Flor & Toby Oppenheimer / 2016 / USA / 90 min
Desperate to survive state and police violence, a group of black gay and trans teens form a gang to protect one another. In a country where blackness is criminal, forming a gang is a radical act of resistance.

In this project-in-progress screening, director David Weissman (We Were Here, The Cockettes) brings viewers inside the experiences of gay men of the pre-Stonewall generation via filmed conversations, which are in turn edited by young gay filmmakers in a unique cross-generational collaboration.

THE FREEDOM TO MARRY / DIR Eddie Rosenstein / 2016 / USA / 86 min
Last year's landmark Supreme Court decision upholding same-sex marriage was the culmination of decades of groundbreaking, uphill work. This inspirational documentary traces the surprising history of the cause, profiling Evan Wolfson and Mary Bonauto, the "godparents" of marriage equality.

GAY USA / DIR Arthur Bressan / 1978 / USA / 78 min
Arthur Bressan created a gay-America panorama when he commissioned filmmakers throughout the country to record all June 1977 Lesbian and Gay Pride parades and marches. He then cut on-the-street interviews-with lesbians and gay men talking about their lovers and how they came out-with the resulting footage, including lesbians marching against housework and drag queens protesting fascism, resulting in a revolutionary document.

GROWING UP COY / DIR Eric Juhola / 2016 / USA / 86 min
In a highly conservative Colorado town, a pink-loving, pig-tailed six-year-old girl named Coy becomes the unlikely poster child for transgender rights, in a landmark case that is reverberating in state courts across the country.

KIKI / DIR Sara Jordenö / 2016 / USA, Sweden / 94 min / Opening Night Film
More than two decades after Paris Is Burning, filmmakers Sara Jordenö and Twiggy Pucci Garçon's vibrant documentary fast-forwards to the ballroom scene of today: an unapologetically flamboyant and political subculture centered on LGBTQ youth of color, for whom dance is far more than performance.

LIVING WITH PRIDE: RUTH C. ELLIS @ 100 / DIR Yvonne Welbon / 1999 / USA / 60 min / Retrospective Film
Filmmaker Yvonne Welbon's breakthrough documentary provides exceptional insight into the life and times of activist and centenarian Ruth C. Ellis, who shows us-with undeniable charm, humor, and joy for life-that a life lived with pride is a life well lived.

OUT RUN / DIRS S. Leo Chiang & Johnny Symons / 2016 / USA / 75 min
Documentarians S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons turn an incisive international lens on the only LGBT political party in the world-the Ladlad Party of the Philippines, where beauty salons become campaign chapters and dubious party alliances are the norm.

POLITICAL ANIMALS / DIRS Jonah Markowitz & Tracy Wares / 2015 / USA / 90 min
This is the eye-opening story of four out lesbian politicians-Sheila Kuehl, Carole Migden, Jackie Goldberg, and Christine Kehoe-who took the LGBT civil rights struggle from the streets to California's state capitol.

REAL BOY / DIR Shaleece Haas / 2016 / USA / 72 min
Bennett Wallace is 19, a musician, and in recovery. On a journey to find his own way as a trans man, Bennett bonds with his friend and mentor, musician Joe Stevens of Coyote Grace, while navigating the difficult terrain of his familial relationships.

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR / DIR Deborah Esquenazi / 2016 / USA / 89 min / Centerpiece Documentary
At the tail end of the "Satanic ritual abuse panic" of the 1990s, four Latina lesbian women were accused and wrongfully convicted of a heinous sexual assault. After serving over a decade in prison, the women won't stop fighting to prove their innocence, in this heart-wrenching examination of the criminal justice system.

TONGUES UNTIED / DIR Marlon T. Riggs / 1989 / USA / 55 min / Retrospective Film
Emmy Award-winning director Marlon T. Riggs' 1989 seminal documentary used poetry, personal testimony, and performance to examine homophobia and racism through images of gay bashings, voguing, and protest marches.

THE TRANS LIST / DIR Timothy Greenfield-Sanders / 2016 / USA / 60 min / Showcase Film
Boasting an impressive assemblage of transgender luminaries-including Buck Angel, Laverne Cox, and Shane Ortega-this riveting documentary highlights the distinct individuality and diverse outlooks of its subjects, while simultaneously evoking the collective power of an indomitable community.

An African American transwoman is murdered after police expose her as an informant. This documentary examines why her murder was not only a hate crime but also the consequence of systemic oppression and the continued criminalization of black bodies.

UPSTAIRS INFERNO / DIR Robert L. Camina / 2015 / USA / 96 min
An unsettling snapshot of what is considered to be the largest mass murder targeting gays in American history, Upstairs Inferno gets inside the hearts and minds of a handful of vibrant people who are connected by tragedy and compassion.


GUYS LIKE US (Shorts Program) / 76 min
This handsome collection highlights a robust representation of transguys and transmasculine folks. From dashing gender outlaws to hunks with hearts of gold, the heroes of these stories navigate landscapes of loss, develop brotherly bonds of friendship, and discover the pure exhilaration of being someone's "Mr. Right Now." In this program: VICTOR XX (DIR Ian Garrido López), TEAR JERKER (DIR Amy Adler), (THE HERE AND NOW) A VISIT (DIR Finn Paul), TRANSCEND (DIR Kai Towns), SAY U WILL (DIR Chris Cruse).

TRANSTASTIC (Shorts Program) / 74 min
This stirring collection centers on images of transgender and gender-nonconforming folks, celebrating the beautiful richness of self-discovery and the driving determination of living an authentic life. In this program: MEZZO (DIR Nicole Opper), VICTOR XX (DIR Ian Garrido López), VESSELS (DIR Arkasha Stevenson), SAY U WILL (DIR Chris Cruse), DAWN (DIR Jake Graff).

WE'VE BEEN AROUND / THIS IS ME (Shorts Anthologies) / DIR Rhys Ernst / USA / 52 min
Directed by Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker Rhys Ernst (co-producer of Transparent), this special double-anthology screening honors the rich histories of transgender trailblazers and explores the current lived experiences of trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) folks.

About Frameline40: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival
Frameline40 runs June 16-26, 2016 in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. Commemorate legendary filmmakers, discover emerging talents, and join the distinguished community of festivalgoers at the world's premier LGBTQ film festival and the largest celebration of queer cinema. Festival tickets go on sale to members on Friday, May 27, and to the general public on Friday, June 3.

About Frameline
Frameline's mission is to change the world through the power of queer cinema. As a media arts nonprofit, Frameline's programs connect filmmakers and audiences in San Francisco and around the world. Frameline's integrated programs provide critical funding for emerging LGBTQ filmmakers, reach hundreds of thousands with a collection of more than 250 films distributed nationally, inspire thousands of students through Youth In Motion, which sends free films and curricula to schools across the nation, and creates an international stage for the world's best queer film through the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival and additional year-round screenings and cinematic events. Learn more at