What to Watch at San Francisco's Frameline46

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday June 20, 2022
Originally published on June 17, 2022

A still from "Lonesome"
A still from "Lonesome"  (Source:Frameline46)

Frameline46, the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, runs June 16-26. It's showcasing some of the best, most diverse and original storytelling from around the world.

Boasting over 125 films from over 35 countries, the Fest includes narrative and doc features, shorts and episodics (including "Queer as Folk"). Visit the Frameline website for the entire lineup.

EDGE has sampled some of the films. Here is a highlighted list of offerings that you should not miss.

"Peter von Kant" (Closing Night)

François Ozon's stunning new film, "Peter von Kant," is an homage to the brilliant German helmer, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, one of the most prolific filmmakers of the '70s who died in 1982 at the age of 37. Ozon has taken Fassbinder's startling 1972 all-female cast film, "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant," reversed the main character's genders, and boldly reimagined the work via Fassbinder's own tumultuous life and career — while remaining remarkably true to his original screenplay. The result is a fabulous wonder of a film, especially for insatiable Fassbinder fans. Peter (Denis Ménochet, fearlessly channeling the director) falls in lust with a gorgeous young guy, Amir (ridiculously hot newbie Khalil Ben Gharbia) and tries to possess him. Ageless Isabelle Adjani plays Peter's actress muse, Sidonie, and Hanna Schygulla, the original object of Petra's desire, now plays Peter's mother. Lastly, Stéfan Crépon portrays Karl, Peter's silent assistant, who he enjoys abusing. Karl may not utter a word, but when he's onscreen, it's impossible to not see these damaged characters through his keen eyes. In French with English subtitles.

"The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant"

Frameline is also showing the original 1972 Fassbinder film, "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant," which is cause for a double feature celebration. The 50th anniversary screening of this rich, vibrant and soul-piercing queer classic will introduce a new audience to Petra (legendary Fassbinder star Margit Carstensen) and her ice queen crush, Karin (Hannah Schygulla) as well as Petra's loyal, abused assistant Marlene (a scene-stealing Irm Hermann). "Petra" was quite daring in depicting same-sex love before it was acceptable. And Michael Ballhaus' cinematography is strikingly bold. In German with English subtitles.

"Where Butterflies Don't Fly"

Daniel (Daniel Krejcík) is an 18-year-old who doesn't fit in with his fellow classmates and is often bullied. He's also flunking, despite his high intelligence. While on a school camping trip he was reticent to take part in, Daniel strays from the group and falls (or is pushed) down a ravine plunging into an underground cave. His gay English/gym teacher, Adam (gorgeous Jirí Vojta) searches for him and ends up underground as well.

Czech Republic writer-director Roman Nemec's outstanding feature debut, "Where Butterflies Don't Fly" deceives viewers into thinking the film is one thing when it takes a dramatic turn and becomes a survivalist story, as well as a visually arresting meditation on sexual tension and desire. "Butterflies" is a compelling, nail-biting yet sensual work with two impressive lead performances. In Czech with English subtitles.

"My Fake Boyfriend"

Rose Troche's delightful new comedy, "My Fake Boyfriend," examines the looney life of Andrew ("Love, Simon's" Keiynan Lonsdale), a struggling stuntman in a crap relationship with a vapid TV star (Marcus Rosner from "UnREAL"). His pushy bestie, Jake (Dylan Sprouse) decides to step in and create a fake boyfriend for Andrew named Cristiano, who quickly becomes a social media influencer — even though he doesn't exist. Meanwhile Andrew begins to fall for hot chef Rafi (Samer Salem) and the complications mount. Troche ("Go Fish") has fashioned a wonderfully oddball rom-com/social media satire that is funny, sweet and clever — kudos to Luke Albright, Greg Boaldin and Joe Wanjai Ross for the script.

"In from the Side"

"In from the Side" is an ambitious 2-hour-and-14-minute film about two attached gay rugby players who fall for one another amidst the hierarchy of the sport. Helmer Matt Carter (who also co-wrote, co-produced, edited, shot, and scored the film) manages to captivate us for the first three quarters of the movie from the homoerotic matches to the team member rivalries to the sizzling-but-too-tame love scenes (What gay men pull the sheets over themselves when they fuck?). But he could have used a rewrite in the fourth quarter when obvious melodrama takes over as does harsh judgment of its characters for falling hard for one another. Still, the film soars because of strikingly handsome lead Alexander Lincoln, onscreen for much of the running time, delivering a fully-committed turn. We feel his pain. And we empathize with his situation.

"Lonesome"

Semi-naive Casey (Josh Lavery in an audacious feature debut) has fled his small farm community and landed in Sydney (Australia) where he hooks up with sexually insatiable Tib (Daniel Gabriel) and the two embark on a messy relationship. Writer-director Craig Boreham likes his explicit sexual situations (and so do we), but the film truly comes alive in the quiet moments when the high drama dissipates and we see just how beaten Casey has become by his world, familial and otherwise. "Lonesome" deals with intolerance and self-hatred. Lavery's intense performance makes it a stirring, disturbing, and engaging one.

"Three Headed Beast"

Fernando Andrés and Tyler Rugh's mesmerizing "Three Headed Beast" honestly delves into the dynamics of a sexually fluid open relationship. Peter (Jacob Schatz) and Nina (Dani Hurtado) are a seemingly content couple. Nina has her flings. And Peter has been exploring his bisexual side with a sweet young cutie, Alex (Cody Shook). But things are starting to get a bit too intense between the men for Nina to handle. The film's frank sexual scenes as well as the deliberate lack of dialogue for the first half of the narrative makes the film a unique and fascinating study of love, fulfillment, fear, and insecurity as well as the importance of communication.

"Girl Picture" (Centerpiece)

Finnish director Alli Haapasalo's visually stirring "Girl Picture" tells the story of young besties Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff) and Rönkkö (Eleonoora Kauhanen) and their attempts at romantic and sexual fulfillment. Ill-tempered Mimmi begins dating idiosyncratic Emma (Linnea Leino), a champion figure skater. But Mimmi tends to be her own personal saboteur. Meanwhile, Rönkkö is convinced she will never enjoy sex, despite her many attempts with hot boys. Haapasalo has a unique visual style and the film's message about asking for what you need in any given sexual situation is to be applauded. In Finnish with English subtitles.

"Private Desert" ("Deserto Particular")

Brasilian director Aly Muritiba's riveting film, "Private Desert," focuses on a distressed 40-year-old police officer (an excellent Antonio Saboia). Midway through, the film takes on a more complex narrative that pivots to another character (equally potent Pedro Fasanaro) struggling with his queerness in a town that begets alienation. Muritiba shows how oppressive and suffocating the religious and patriarchal small-town communities can be when it comes to how men learn to live and love. The movie's last reel is a surprising delight. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

"Jimmy in Saigon"

Out filmmaker Peter McDowell had an older brother, a Vietnam vet that died at 24 while living as a civilian in Saigon. The circumstances surrounding his death and his life are the subject of McDowell's arresting portrait, "Jimmy in Saigon," a work that exposes the secrets, lies, and taboo love that existed a half century ago as well as the self-hatred and homophobia inherent in both the Vietnamese and American cultures.

Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute