Since 1977 San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival has presented LGBTQ+ cinema to a ravenous audience each year. Ravenous? Yes, I meant it. The huge crowds packed into such iconic venues as the palatial Castro Theatre love cinema so much, they’ll loudly cheer on what speaks to them. Conversely, you haven’t lived until 1400 people hiss and boo at a villain on the screen. The films Framline have screened over the years have meant so much to our history. They’ve been there for us to bring our community together, to celebrate, to laugh, cry, and everything in between. The experience has enriched so many lives, it’s impossible to truly know the reach and scope of it. Beyond the festival, Frameline distributes films as well, ensuring even more access to an incredible library which serves as an important historical archive. Their completion fund has assisted so many people in finishing their films, it’s astonishing. They’ve helped us so much, and now they need ours. As with so many businesses and non-profits, the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped Frameline in its tracks. With Frameline 44 postponed, they’ve announced the Frameline 2020 Fund to keep everything going.
The first time I screened at San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival was in 2000. My first short, Lost Cause, follows a man living with HIV who needs assistance from his local AIDS organization. His being transferred endlessly from person to person doesn’t help matters much. I viewed the film as a primal scream aimed at a bureacracy which needed a makeover. It played in the festival’s popular Boys’ Shorts program, and the packed crowd gave it just the right amount of foot-stomping applause and well-placed anger. My next short, Boychick, also played in the same program a year later. I’ll never forget people dancing in the streets afterwards, imitating moves from my dance/musical extravaganza. The Executive Director loved the film so much, he passed it along to the Seattle Film Festival, where it won the Best Short Award.
That one good deed of his is really why I have a career in film at all. They’ve screened almost every film I’ve ever made, and even distributed my very first. I’ll never forget the roaring standing ovation Leave It On The Floor, a musical about the Los Angeles Ball Culture, received, or the tears from the screening of I Do. My three gay sisters and their families came from all over the world to attend the premiere of my comedy, Lez Be Friends. Frameline even screened an educational training film I made about HIV/AIDS in jails and prisons. Screening at their festival has directly led to professional opportunities. They’ve been propping me up and providing support for so long in a world where LGBTQ+ filmmakers often get the cold shoulder. Frameline has meant the world to me and to so many others filmmakers and audiences alike.
I encourage any of you with means to donate whatever you can to help them stay afloat. The work they’ve done for the LGBTQ+ community is priceless and historic. Click on the Facebook Fundraiser link here to give whatever you can, and share to spread the word, or find out more and donate directly on the Frameline website here.
By Glenn Gaylord – Senior Film Critic