The San Francisco LGBTQ International Film Festival is always a wealth crucial documentaries that detail the lives of the LGBTQ community and enlighten in a way that many often never get a chance to see.
Here are four fantastic examples among so many.
Few people in Hollywood had such a roller coaster of highs and lows as producer Allan Carr did. From producing the blockbuster Grease to bringing La Cages aux Folles to America and winning a Tony for it to some of Tinseltown’s biggest disasters like Can’t Stop the Music and that infamous Snow White/Rob Lowe opening number at the 1989 Oscars, Carr experienced a world and a purview of it that few of us can imagine. Director Jeffrey Schwarz (Tab Hunter Confidential, I Am Divine) takes us deep inside a story full of tragedy, comedy and extra pulpy gayness.
One of the most important stories of one of the most vital players in the gay rights revolution, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson details the ongoing search for answers in the 1992 murder of the Stonewall Riots trans pioneer. This is one of those ‘know your herstory’ experiences that every generation of LGBTQ youth must see, must understand. It’s a bracingly relevant film as violence against black, transgender women right now is happening at an extraordinary and alarming rate. Oscar nominated director David France (How to Survive a Plague) gives us a crucial look at not just the violence against transgender people but the long-fought struggle that trans people have had (and still have) within their own community.
When thinking of San Francisco, there are fewer pieces of literature so intrinsically and inextricably linked to the City by the Bay than Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. This wonderful doc starts all the way at the beginning with Maupin growing up in deeply religious and deeply racist North Carolina, working for Jesse Helms and meeting President Nixon in the White House after a Vietnam peacekeeping mission to a dalliance with Rock Hudson to the genesis of Tales of the City. Featuring interviews with Laura Linney, Ian McKellen and Neil Gaiman, this is a deeply San Francisco movie, a must-see for this festival and for those who have been fans of Maupin but might not have known as much about him as they thought.
The harrowing story of three lesbian couples and their adoption fights in Alabama shows just how far we’ve come as a country in terms of equal rights and how far we have to go state by state to really get there. In a state with no LGBTQ protection whatsoever, this absorbing doc shows us decade-long custody battles where judges give children back to abusive households over lesbian parents and how regular people become accidental activists. In a state where judges defy federal law and where the line between church and state is defiantly and sharply drawn, these stories become more important than ever.
Frameline41 runs from June 15-25 at various locations around the Bay Area. Go to https://www.frameline.org/festival for more information.