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Gay and Lesbian Film Fest Has Several Bay Area Connections

June 18, 2008

By Randy Myers, Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Jun. 18–A Concord man emotionally recounts how he felt when his son became his daughter.

A former Albany woman digs through numerous photos and letters while trying to figure out if her great-grandmother had a lesbian lover.

A Hayward teen passionately speaks in verse about race, politics and other hot-button topics in lively spoken-word competitions.

These three will share their remarkable stories in films shown at Frameline32, the San Francisco International Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Film Festival.

The 237-feature festival kicks off Thursday with a grand opening at the Castro, and runs through June 29.

Here are minireviews of some notable features and shorts.

Don’t miss:

“XXY”: Argentina’s recent emergence as a major cinematic player gains even more cred with first-time director Lucia Puenzo’s searing drama about a 15-year-old hermaphrodite. A confused yet strong-willed Alex (Ines Efron) lives in fear that her dual sexuality will be exposed. When she fools around with a 16-year-old boy, also struggling with his sexuality, all sorts of emotions explode. Puenzo’s bold film provocatively and intelligently delves into a topic rarely touched on film. Easily one of the best in the fest.

Screens: 7 p.m. June 24 at the Castro

“A Jihad for Love”: Director Parvez Sharma’s unsettling, powerful documentary peers into the struggles and physical violence some

gay Muslims are confronting in various countries. The stories told here reveal a courageousness that will leave you awe-struck.

Screens: 6 p.m. June 28 at the Victoria

“Chris & Don: A Love Story”: The May-December romance of iconoclastic author Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Barchardy — 30 years his junior — vividly comes to life in this lovely, enriching documentary. Co-directors Guido Santi and Tina Mascara create complex, full-bloodied portraits of both men through archival video, family photos and telling interviews. Worthy of Oscar consideration.

Screens: 9 p.m. June 27 at the Victoria

Worth seeing

“Ready, OK?”: Ten-year-old Joshua (Lurie Poston) tirelessly dreams about “girlie” pursuits such as being on the cheerleading squad. His less masculine ways fluster his A-type mom along with his Catholic school’s mother superior. Director James Vasquez’s gentle and pleasant comedy-drama could have used a bit more sass; but the likeable Poston and the film’s heartfelt sincerity win you over.

Screens: 7 p.m. June 24 at the Victoria; 7 p.m. June 26 at the Elmwood

“Tru Loved”: Tru, the new girl at a snotty SoCal high school, catches the affection of the cutie-pie quarterback. But the budding romance seems a little queer to her lesbian mom. Frothy, sweet-natured and charming, this teen coming-out and being-true-to yourself crowd-pleaser suffers from a strained finale, but well worth seeing, especially for Najarra Townsend’s appealing performance as Tru.

Screens: 4 p.m. June 21 at the Castro; noon June 25 at the Castro

A disappointment

“Affinity”: This botched adaptation of Sarah Waters’ clever Victorian England-set novel should have — could have — been so much better. Two women — one sentenced to Millbank Prison, the other chained to her repression — develop a consuming attraction to each other. The intriguing plot and sharp screenplay are quite good; it’s the melodramatic direction and lackluster acting that can’t keep up.

East Bay connections:

“2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry”: Low-tech, commendable documentary profiles teen spoken-word performers in the Bay Area. As you’d expect, it catches fire whenever the five teen poets — including one from Hayward — hit the stage to show off their amazing talents. “Verse” gains more depth whenever the camera focuses on Yosimar Reyes of San Jose. His words — and life as an undocumented immigrant — will render you speechless.

Screens: 6 p.m. June 20 at the Roxie

“The Bond”: A Concord man emotionally recalls how he felt about his son’s decision to become a woman. In just six minutes, Michael Connell conveys not only love for his daughter, but grief over having lost a son. Filled with hope and compassion; be ready for a good cry.

Screens: As part of “Trantastic,” 6:15 p.m. June 22, the Victoria

“Just Me?”: Former Albany resident Amy Neil pieces together the background of her great-grandmother’s close relationship with another woman. Neil’s 22-minute short is laced with humor and humanity. Seek it out.

Screens: As part of “A Gay Old Time,” 4:30 p.m. June 25 at the Castro

Reach Randy Myers at rmyers@bayareanewsgroup.com.

film festival — WHAT: Frameline 32: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival — WHEN: June 19-29 — WHERE: Various venues include: Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College Ave., Berkeley; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.; Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th St., S.F.; Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., S.F. — TICKETS: $7-$10 per screening (more for opening and closing nights); www.Frameline.org, 415-522-5543 (fax) or at Superstar Satellite, 474 Castro St., S.F. online To see trailers of the films, go to ContraCostaTimes.com

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