Thrills: 'Affinity,' a Sarah Waters mystery, opens the SFLGBT Film Festival. (Photo courtesy Frameline)

Frameline's 32nd SFLGBT Festival Program

Susan Gerhard May 20, 2008

The historically rich Castro Theatre—with its marquee recently revamped for the Milk biopic shoot—hosted Frameline’s announcements of its program for the annual San Francisco International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Film Festival Tuesday morning. In its 32nd year, the festival runs June 19-29 at the Castro, Roxie and Victoria theaters in San Francisco, and the Elmwood in Berkeley. It opens with Affinity, based on Sarah Waters’ 1999 novel, a film Festival Artistic Director Michael Lumpkin described as a "same-sex bodice ripper." Its closing night film, the Canadian Breakfast with Scot, mixes homosexuality and hockey in a story about raising a child. The Centerpiece screening at the festival is XXY, a piece of Argentinian New Cinema, which follows last year’s juried prize-winner Glue in pointing south toward a LGBT-filmmaking hotspot.

The festival’s Director of Programming, Jennifer Morris, let a note of bittersweetness creep into her voice as she spoke of Michael Lumpkin leaving the festival after the close of Frameline32. Lumpkin has been with the festival since 1979, in one capacity or another—first as a volunteer, before actually taking charge of the festival a few years later. Though he took a few years off to co-produce The Celluloid Closet, he has been the festival’s through-line and anchor. Morris credited Lumpkin with making Frameline not only the oldest, biggest LGBT festival on the circuit, but an A-list festival by any ranking, one with some of the biggest attendance numbers of any film festival in the United States. Lumpkin leaves the festival with a great gift this year, programming seven of the festival’s most popular features, including the Wachowski Brothers’ Bound, the Senegalese Carmen, Karmen Gei, and the Busby Berkeleyesque Yes Nurse! No Nurse!.

Morris offered an overview of the rest of the festival, which includes a worldly mix of international and locally made films. A surprising number of films from the Middle East emerged in the programming of the festival, Morris noted, including A Jihad for Love, Parvez Sharma and Sandi DuBowski’s a look at queer love in the Muslim world, Be Like Others, a Sundance-screened look at legal sexual reassignment surgeries in Iran, as well as four films from Israel.

Films from Bay Area makers include The Lost Coast, All My Life, the documentaries 2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry and Debra Chasnoff’s It’s Still Elementary: The Movie and the Movement among many others.

Lumpkin noted that Frameline has expanded its distribution program, and that some of the films it has helped in various stages of development are playing the festival: Call Me Troy and a South African short film collection among them.

As a sneak preview, the festival offers Sordid Lives: The Television Series, which prequels the 1995 play, which turned into a 2000 movie that, Lumpkin playfully admitted, he was mistaken in not allowing into the festival the first time around.