Nursing school: Michael Lumpkin's Frameline Award retrospective includes a screening of 'Yes Nurse! No Nurse!' during the SF Int'l LGBT Film Festival. (Photo courtesy Frameline)

The List: Michael Lumpkin Looks Back

Dennis Harvey June 13, 2008

It’s perhaps not so shocking that the 2008 Frameline Award is going to the festival’s own Michael Lumpkin this year. Frameline’s retiring executive director, as well as sometime board-member and festival co-director, started as a volunteer in 1979, then basically led the SF International LGBT Film Fest for 25 years (taking four out to co-produce The Celluloid Closet). No one is more deserving of in-house honors for not only developing a world-class festival, but charting an ever-more-community-inclusive path for (as the monicker labels it) international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cinema. Whatever he’s up to in the future, his departure from Frameline causes no small amount of sentimental ache.

In parting, he’s chosen a mini-retrospective of features over the last two-decades-plus that highlight some personal favorites that made waves at the festival (and sometimes in the larger cinematic world). They’re a terrific assortment you’d be well advised to check out, whether as a first-timer or nostalgic re-viewer.

1. Mala Noche
Gus Van Sant’s exquisitely B&W grungy 1986 feature debut has the wonderful if never-seen-again Tim Streeter as a gay Bukowski type on Portland’s Skid Row, infatuated with a too-young Mexican immigrant. It’s like Beat poetry come to cinematic life.

2. Law of Desire
The pinnacle of Antonio Banderas’ early enshrinement as Pedro Almodovar’s favorite hothead boytoy, this purple 1987 Spanish melodrama draws a thin line between horniness and craziness. Who’s complaining?

3. Bound
Future Matrix trilogy mavens the Wachowski Brothers made their debut co-writing/directing/producing this clever and incredibly hot 1996 thriller with Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilley as lovers conspiring to snatch (ahem) mob money from pre-Sopranos Joe Pantoliano.

4. Lilies
Canadian provocateur John Greyson has never made a more beautiful or arresting film than this adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard’s stage play, in which an imprisoned murderer’s confession exposes the real crime committed 40 years earlier—one wrought by homophobia and religious hypocrisy.

5. Big Eden
I confess I still haven’t seen this 2000 Amerindie from writer-director Thomas Bezucha, in which a gay New Yorker "exiled" by circumstance to his childhood’s small-town Montana, where he finds surprising romantic interest. But the overwhelming consensus is that it’s massively charming.

6. Karmen Gei
Frankly, she isn’t that gei—I mean gay—but Djeinaba Diop Gai’s force-of-life ebulliance suffuses this Senegalese Afropop update of the classic Bizet Carmen with a healthy dose of polysexuality. She’s a force of nature bigger than the Kinsey Scale can encompass.

7. Yes Nurse! No Nurse!
Providing a campy exclamation point to this series, Pieter Kramer’s 2002 Dutch musical is a candy-colored, ostensibly heterosexual but tres-gay tale of tolerance set in an Amsterdam guesthouse. Good silly fun.