Frameline is back: LGBTQ+ film festival announces full lineup of September virtual event
11-day virtual event takes place September 17–27, 2020 kicking off with the world premiere of ‘Shit & Champagne’ from San Francisco drag icon D’Arcy Drollinger and starring Drag Race winner Alaska Thunderfuck
Frameline announced the full program for Frameline44—the world’s largest virtual LGBTQ+ film festival—taking place Thursday, September 17 through Sunday, September 27, 2020. This 11-day virtual event will feature 10 world premieres, four international premieres, three North American premieres, and one US premiere, including new narrative features, documentaries, episodics, and shorts programs. In addition, ticket holders will have access to special live and pre-recorded intros, Q&As, and other unique programming, including Frameline’s first-ever virtual gala and live auction (Saturday, September 26), to evoke the live festival experience that has made Frameline the global leader in LGBTQ+ cinema for the past 44 years. Tickets ($8–$12 per screening) and passes (starting at $250) are available now online at frameline.org. This year’s all-virtual platform is open to ticket holders anywhere throughout California. To ensure maximum flexibility, ticket holders will be able to tune in live to each screening or stream nearly every film at any time during the 11-day festival.
Frameline44 will bring film lovers and LGBTQ+ communities from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond together online to discover the latest in queer cinema. Representing 23 countries—from Argentina, France, and Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria, Taiwan, and New Zealand— this year’s slate of films will touch on themes ranging from the activist roots of pre-Stonewall LGBTQ rights pioneers to Black Lives Matter; and stories ranging from teenage awakenings to queer love in old age. Highlights include the world premiere Drive-In Centerpiece, D’Arcy Drollinger’s Shit & Champagne, featuring the who’s who of drag, including the one-and-only Alaska Thunderfuck; the world premiere of HBO Max’s Equal: Episodes 2 & 3, directed (respectively) by Kimberly Reed and Stephen Kijak and featuring Samira Wiley, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Alexandra Grey; the world premiere Frameline44 Centerpiece, Lauren Fash’s Through the Glass Darkly, featuring Robyn Lively and Shanola Hampton; films that touch on the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, including the Toronto International Film Festival favorite and Frameline44 Centerpiece, Ali LeRoi’s The Obituary of Tunde Johnson; Elegance Bratton’s timely documentary, Pier Kids, that highlights queer and trans homeless youth on the West Village’s piers; and Ashley O’Shay’s inspiring documentary, Unapologetic, highlighting Black feminist voices who stand up to police violence and usher in change; the Tribeca Film Festival multi-award winner, Cowboys, featuring Steve Zahn, Jillian Bell, and Ann Dowd; and Laurie Lynd’s Killing Patient Zero, the groundbreaking exposé of how a Canadian flight attendant became vilified as the “man who brought AIDS to North America,” and San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts’ complex role in that story.
“Frameline remains the largest virtual LGBTQ+ film festival in the world,” said James Woolley, Frameline Executive Director. “As trailblazers in the industry for over four decades, Frameline continues raising the bar through virtual and interactive programming ensuring important LGBTQ+ stories are being told to a wider audience. Building on the success of our virtual Pride Showcase in June, we have assembled a lineup of films that promise to engage, inspire, and entertain film lovers across California.”
“Although we are not able to gather in person, the need to be inspired, and to share one another’s stories of LGBTQ+ lives around the globe, is even more palpable,” adds Paul Struthers, Frameline Director of Exhibition & Programming. “Representing 23 countries from around the world, this year’s lineup touches on a variety of themes, including the urgency of Black Lives Matter, all with one goal in mind—to celebrate the power of queer storytelling. This will be my last festival with Frameline. Thanks for a charming past 3 years and all my very best for another 44 years of showcasing the best LGBTQ+ cinema.”
SHIT & CHAMPAGNE dir. D’Arcy Drollinger | USA | World Premiere
San Francisco’s own drag queen extraordinaire D’Arcy Drollinger swaps the stage for the screen in their first feature film, a wacky send-up of 70s sexploitation flicks with a supporting cast of all-star drag talent. Drollinger stars as the infamous Champagne, an intrepid stripper who finds herself embroiled in a wild plot involving booty bumps, an evil retail chain store, murder, and wigs galore. Shit & Champagne will be screened exclusively at the West Wind Solano Drive-In in Concord, CA.
ALICE JÚNIOR dir. Gil Baroni |Brazil | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In Portuguese with English subtitles
In this fizzy, warm-hearted coming-of-age tale from Brazil, trans teen Internet sensation Alice must trade in her enviable beachside lifestyle in Recife for a traditional Catholic high school when her family relocates to a conservative rural town. Finding herself a victim of misgendering and bullying by her classmates, Alice uses her confidence and sass to find a new circle of supportive friends as she desperately pines for her first real kiss.
THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON dir. Ali LeRoi | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere Gay Black teenager Tunde Johnson (13 Reasons Why’s Steven Silver, in a mesmerizing performance) keeps waking up on the last day of his life to once more relive his death at the hands of killer cops. Timely and urgent, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson updates the Groundhog Day structure with a riveting tale at the intersection of anti-Black police violence and the resurgence of homophobia in the Trump era.
THROUGH THE GLASS DARKLY dir. Lauren Fash | USA | World Premiere
Since the sudden disappearance of her daughter a year ago, Charlie (Robyn Lively of both Teen Witch and Twin Peaks fame) has never stopped searching the sleepy Georgia hamlet where she lives with her partner. When the granddaughter of the town’s matriarch vanishes, Charlie sets out to find answers. As she digs into the community’s dark past, Charlie must come face to face with her own destructive secrets in this tense psychological thriller.
BEAUTIFUL DREAMER dir. Amy Glazer | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
Starring Erin Daniels of The L Word and adapted from Patricia Cotter’s play, The Surrogate, Beautiful Dreamer is a charming, light-hearted dramedy about family, friendship, and love within a tight-knit group of fortysomethings, shot in and around the Bay Area. Over the course of several months, these friends try to juggle planning a wedding, having a baby through a surrogate, and finishing a novel while relying on each other for much-needed support.
CICADA dirs. Matthew Fifer & Kieran Mulcare | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
After a torrent of hollow and unsatisfying hookups, charming New Yorker Ben (writer-director Matthew Fifer) forms an unexpectedly meaningful bond with silky-voiced Sam during the muggy cicada summer of 2013. As the two men grow closer and more vulnerable, at a time when disturbing details from the trial of coach Jerry Sandusky permeate the airwaves, past traumas are revealed and confronted in this personal and affecting debut feature.
COWBOYS dir. Anna Kerrigan | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
Troy (a dynamite Steve Zahn, who won the Best Actor prize at Tribeca) escapes to the Canadian border on horseback with his golden-haired, 11-year-old son Joe. How did these “cowboys” wind up here? Unfolding clue by clue through flashbacks, this moving, suspenseful feature from writer-director Anna Kerrigan skillfully tells the story of a contemporary family struggling with how best to raise a transgender child. Jillian Bell, Ann Dowd, and remarkable trans newcomer Sasha Knight also star.
GOSSAMER FOLDS dir. Lisa Donato | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
Featuring an excellent ensemble cast of familiar faces and original songs from Sarah McLachlan, the directorial debut of Lisa Donato (co-screenwriter of festival fave Signature Move, Frameline41) is a heartfelt tale of big dreams and unlikely friendships, set in Missouri circa 1986. Newly relocated to the suburbs, 9-year-old Tate sparks a strong bond with two of his neighbors—a Black transwoman and her retired English professor father—as he tries to adjust to his new surroundings and his parents’ crumbling marriage.
MINYAN dir. Eric Steel | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
David is a 17-year-old yeshiva student living with his Russian Jewish immigrant family in 1980s Brooklyn. Stifled by the constraints of his conservative community, David begins seeking solace in an East Village gay bar, leading not only to a sexual awakening but a spiritual one as well, in this tender and evocative portrait of self-discovery.
SHIVA BABY dir. Emma Seligman | USA | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
Played by breakout newcomer Rachel Sennott (Tahara, Frameline44 Pride Showcase), Danielle is a sexually-liberated, bisexual post-grad trying to find her footing in life…one paying sugar daddy at a time. When she reluctantly finds herself at a shiva with her parents and her overachieving ex-girlfriend, Danielle gets caught in a series of hilariously awkward encounters that’s made exponentially worse with the arrival of her current, paying beau.
COCOON (KOKON) dir. Leonie Krippendorff | Germany | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In German with English subtitles
The summer of 2018 is the hottest ever recorded in Berlin. For 14-year-old Nora, it’s also the summer she discovers her sexuality. With an absentee mother who drinks too much and an older sister more interested in boys than hanging around with her kid sister, Nora is left to her caterpillar collection and her burgeoning feelings for a fellow classmate, Romy, in this bittersweet and accomplished coming-of-age story.
DRY WIND (VENTO SECO) dir. Daniel Nolasco | Brazil | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
In Portuguese with English subtitles Set in a neon fantasia of erotic exploration, Dry Wind follows the yearnings (both kinky and tender) of Sandro, a shy, hunky bear who spices up his mundane life working in a factory in dusty central Brazil with vivid sexual encounters, both real and imagined. Sandro’s giddy array of fetishes and fantasies, and even the prospect of love, come dazzlingly to life in this visually arresting film, one of the hot queer tickets at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
ELLIE & ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT) dir. Monica Zanetti | Australia | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere
Experiencing her first real crush, high schooler Ellie calls upon the universe to help guide her through it. Enter Tara, Ellie’s dead aunt, who reappears only to her to help her navigate the awkward travails of coming out and falling in love. Monica Zanetti’s delightful romantic comedy is a hilarious and sincere exploration of first love and the family legacies that live inside of us throughout generations.
FORGOTTEN ROADS (LA NAVE DEL OLVIDO) dir. Nicol Ruiz Benavides | Chile | World Premiere In Spanish with English subtitles
After her husband’s death, repressed widow Claudina meets the independent and married Elsa, and this new friendship quickly develops into a full-fledged romance. In the gossipy Chilean town of Lautaro, however, the women’s relationship doesn’t stay secret for long, and Claudina must choose between her old life and the open road ahead in this delicate coming-of-(older)-age film that’s brimming with sweetness and vitality.
THE GODDESS OF FORTUNE (LA DEA FORTUNA) dir. Ferzan Ozpetek | Italy | West Coast Premiere In Italian with English subtitles
Just as their 15-year relationship appears to have hit a lull, gay partners Arturo and Alessandro find their lives thrown for a loop when their friend (and Alessandro’s ex-girlfriend) asks them to look after her two adolescent children. A trio of Italy’s brightest stars lead a stellar cast in the latest film from Turkish-Italian auteur Ferzan Ozpetek (Facing Windows; Steam: The Turkish Bath, Frameline22)—a warm, engaging tale about the true meaning of “chosen family,” which juggles interpersonal drama with a healthy dose of humor and heart.
MONSOON dir. Hong Khaou | UK | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In English and Vietnamese with English subtitles
For the first time since his family fled during the Vietnam-American War, Kit (Crazy Rich Asians heartthrob Henry Golding) returns to his native Saigon to scatter his parents’ ashes. Ashe navigates this unfamiliar new land, Kit reconnects with estranged family members and strikes up a budding romance with a handsome ex-pat (World on Fire’s Parker Sawyers), embarking on a personal journey to understand his true roots in the long-awaited sophomore feature from Hong Khaou (Lilting, Frameline38).
NO HARD FEELINGS (FUTUR DREI) dir. Faraz Shariat | Germany | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In German, Persian, and Arabic with English subtitles
A young German-Iranian raver forms an inseparable bond with two Iranian immigrant siblings over the course of a summer, as threat of deportation looms and a secret romance becomes too explosive to contain, in this year’s winner of the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Filmmaker Faraz Shariat’s exuberant, heartfelt, and slyly funny autobiographical debut shines an empathetic and hopeful light on a generation of displaced youth finding their place in the world
RIALTO dir. Peter Mackie Burns | Ireland, UK | West Coast Premiere
After an unexpected encounter in a public bathroom, Colm—a working-class Dublin family man struggling in midlife, played powerfully by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Avengers: Endgame)—becomes enamored with the charismatic, much younger gay-for-pay Jay (Dunkirk’s Tom Glynn-Carney). As Colm’s personal troubles mount and his interest in Jay grows more complicated, Rialto becomes a deeply affecting portrait of a crisis of masculinity.
RŪRANGI dir. Max Currie | New Zealand | International Premiere In English and Māori with English subtitles Trans activist Caz has a lot of explaining to do when he returns home to rural New Zealand after being away for 10 years. Reconnecting with his estranged father, confused ex-boyfriend, and hurt best friend— on top of an environmental crisis that’s threatening the farming community—Caz may have bitten off more than he can chew. The filmmaking team’s #byusandaboutusmission of genuine trans representation is unmistakable, making Rūrangi an authentic celebration not to be missed!
TWO OF US (DEUX) dir. Filippo Meneghetti | France, Luxembourg, Belgium | San Francisco Bay Area Premiere In French with English subtitles The closet has dire consequences in this heart-wrenching tale of Mado and Nina, two older lesbians who haven’t disclosed their relationship to the kids yet. When an unexpected crisis puts Mado’s children in charge of their mother, Nina finds herself shunted aside, and her attempts to rescue her relationship with Mado turn increasingly desperate. German screen icon Barbara Sukowa stars in this sizzling feature debut from director Filippo Meneghetti.
Go to frameline.org for the full lineup and to purchase tickets and passes.