Screening Room

Haaz Sleiman, Jackie Beat and more: our seven must-see titles from a virtual Frameline44

Haaz Sleiman & Michael Cassidy in Breaking Fast

Frameline, the San Francisco-based queer media arts foundation, returns again this June 25-28 with its 44th LGBTQ film festival. And thankfully, COVID-19 won’t kill this party.

For anyone living in San Francisco–or anyone outside of it–this year’s festival will launch on the web, allowing more people to view and participate in the Frameline festivities than ever before. This year will also feature a special event at the West Wind Solano Drive-In Theater in Concord, California on Saturday, June 27, to allow festival-goers to experience the festival in person.

Make a note: we’ve a feeling this will not be the last you hear of these titles.

1. Breaking Fast

Breaking Fast – festival teaser from Minutehand Pictures on Vimeo.

Director Mike Mosallam enchanted us with this delightful romantic comedy earlier this year. Haaz Sleiman shows off his acting chops–and that he can carry a leading man role in his performance as a gay, Muslim doctor who falls for the handsome young Kal (Michael Cassidy). In short, we’re smitten, and think you will be too.

2. Stage Mother

Two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver stars as a conservative woman who suddenly inherits a drag club from her estranged son. She soon finds herself uprooted to San Francisco, and in the midst of a group of local eccentrics. Jackie Beat, Lucy Liu and Mya Taylor (of Tangerine) also star in this comedy that channels shades of The Birdcage.

3. Ahead of the Curve

This new documentary traces the history of the renowned lesbian magazine Curve as well as the life of its founder Franco Stevens. Featuring interviews with lesbian icons, including Melissa Etheridge, Kate Kendall and Jewelle Gomez, director Jen Rainin examines the current state of queer media, and the need for a female-oriented publication.

In addition, the film will have its world premiere at a special event at the West Wind Solano Drive-In Theater in Concord, California on Saturday, June 27.

4. Twilight’s Kiss

Thank goodness it’s not about vampires. Twilight’s Kiss tells an unusual gay love story: that of two older men in Hong Kong, both of whom came out late in life. As their love grows, they must face choices regarding coming out in a homophobic society, living together…and how to play father to their adult children. As with several films earlier this year (notably the doc A Secret Love) this drama examines care for aging LGBTQ couples as they face their final years together.

5. House of Cardin

Documentarians P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes (Hit So Hard) turn their lens on style icon Pierre Cardin, the eccentric Italian-French designer who helped popularize Avant-Garde, futuristic fashion…and women of color on the runway. Featuring interviews with Cardin himself, as well as collaborator Jean-Paul Gautier and models Naomi Campbell and Sharon Stone, House of Cardin celebrates a gay fashion titan.

6. Welcome to Chechnya

Director David France brings his latest, harrowing documentary to Frameline44 just ahead of its HBO premiere. Welcome to Chechnya details the horrors of LGBTQ purges in Eastern Europe, most specifically in Russia and its nation-state Chechnya, where queer people face disappear into the night to face torture and death. Part spy film, part humanitarian plea, it’s one of the best films of the year.

7. Summerland

This period drama stars Gemma Arterton as a lonely writer named Alice that forms a bond with a young boy during the London Blitzkrieg. As they hide out together, Alice recalls her first love, a woman (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and discovers a new hope for her future. With early awards buzz already rumbling, it’s a must-see for us.

Frameline44 runs this June 25-28.