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The 37th Frameline LGBT film festival was awesome! This year was a great one for documentaries; lots of really fantastic films!

Short list of favorites here, brief reviews of everything I saw below the cut.

Favorite Documentaries:
  • The Secret Disco Revolution - just like it sounds, an alternative history of Disco and it's surprisingly subversive effect on culture, politics, and the music industry

  • I Am Divine - a fantastic biopic of Harris Glenn Milstead, of John Waters' movie fame

  • The Battle of AmFAR - all about my new hero, scientist-activist Dr Krim and her partner-in-AIDS-work, Elizabeth Taylor

  • Out Here: the Queer Farmer Film Project - simple and powerful interviews with queer farmers around the country

  • Interior. Leather Bar. - a thoughtful and experimental exploration of identity, sexuality, art, and perception; reminiscent of Exit Through the Gift Shop

  • Ian Harvie Superhero - ridiculously funny transman stand-up comedy concert film

Favorite Feature:
Burning Blue - like Top Gun, but with more realistic and tragic gayness

Favorite Short:
The Man That Got Away - singing and dancing and tragedy, oh my!

All the movies!
here are the notes I took on my phone after each movie; in the interest of posting sooner rather than later they're unedited (so please forgive the typos!)

Frameline 2013

Thursday 6-20-13
Good; was worried at points (I miss AO3 warnings!) but turned out well and my love for the hooker/therapist trope outweighed the neurotic skinny rich New York housewife parts
Tech: Pretty lighting, esp in all white apt with huge windows and soft (cloudy?) sunlight streaming in

Friday 6/21/13
The Go Doc Project
Very inspiring; much more fun than Magic Mike; also felt like fanfic, esp when the subject of the (quasi) documentary took the camera and started interviewing & seducing the director - v. powerful
Tech note: don't be afraid to use webcam or iPhone footage; also use ad lib when needed to overcome wooden actors, they also had good b roll (cut aways to hands or arms or something to cover re-recorded dialog).

Solid doc on, even if my years in CA and fandom meant there was nothing in it I hadn't already been exposed to
Tech: cameraman with a bare fluorescent tube light hanging from his body, so light moved with camera; also thoughts on what makes a good sex scene, I still seem to like stills and text more than video for explicit sex but perhaps the Slashcast discussion I listened to recently on what makes a good sex scene contains the clue ... just like a good fight scene, a sex scene gets boring if it doesn't also advance the plot or develop a character; also think about how to use video techniques like voice overs and flashbacks to get inside a character's head during a scene; also inspired me to continue to try to do a doc; maybe the Secret Sex Lives of Scientists, i.e. an excuse to have all my friends talk about their work projects and their sex adventures

Saturday 6/22/13
Romeo Romeo
Doc on a lesbian couple struggling with infertility, happy ending (yay! and the other half of the couple apparently had another boy just a few months ago, so double yay), really compelling and well-told, I felt emotionally invested without feeling manipulated, which was cool
Tech: a lot of shaky iPhone type footage with harsh color/lighting ... noticeable but very forgivable in the doc context and didn't obstruct the story at all ... not sure if it's as applicable to a fictional film but worthwhile to remember for other projects

Lewd & Lascivious
Doc on a ball thrown by an alliance of priests and LGBT groups in the 50s & 60s
Awesome history, triumph of civil disobedience and community building by the church and various LGBTQ groups
Tech: it's good to have friends and networks

Big Joy
Meh, not impressed
Tech: edit tighter, don't get too close to subject (metaphorically) since it won't make sense to strangers

Big Gay Love
Terrible script, good acting
Hero didn't grow, just kept making the same mistake and getting the guy back by apologizing, best friend and villains were mis-introduced so it was confusing at the climax
Tech: follow save the cat advice!

She: Their Story
Thai lesbians, slow and full of sappy montages ... hard to stay awake
Tech: no notes, couldn't stay awake

Nightmare on Elm Street 2
Awesome pre-show, then interview
Movie was much more fun with that prep.
Tech: cinematographers motifs were sorta dumb (when Freddie's about to appear things melt or bust into flames) but worth considering as a concept

Sunday 6/23/13
I Am Divine
Excellent! Look for it to recommend on Netflix via Wolf DVD. Well-told and informative. Also inspirational for making film / art / costumes; makes me want to do even bolder photoshoots and films
Tech: don't be afraid to cast cross-gender (in addition to gender-poofing the characters to match casting)

Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?
Yay! Fun in its own right and the play-within-a-play was exciting
Tech: write lines on whiteboard (as cue card) and position leaning on tripod on floor; actor looking down looks pretty natural

Interior. Leather Bar.
A true experimental film, reminds me of exit through the gift shop; pretty awesome
Would be fun to make a fake documentary, the 'archival' footage filmed in the present (lots of young people) and all the 'contemporary' footage filmed in front of bland background with fake futuristic clothes and lots of old people talking in the past tense; a good format for an aspirational film
Tech: something about experimental films actually containing an experiment or iterative component

Monday 6/24/13
I had my expectations way too high; oh well. Concept was awesome (everybody independently films a chapter and then it all gets edited together) but the book it was based on was not my style (all drugs and whining and bad life choices), so I hated the plot/characters.
Tech: ugh, hmm, well, if I do decide to do a multi-cast film (like Valencia or that Star Wars project) make sure to have quickly recognizable iconic visual elements (like the main character's chunky black glasses) to help make the story flow more smoothly and have audience be able to connect and follow what's going on; I didn't like this film but in essence it's a good idea

Dating is a contact sport
Sports-themed shorts
Click - was cliche but cute
Mermaids - had some math! and ladies playing football in full pads!
F to 7th - the best one; esp the clone scene!
It gets bitter - funny and blessedly short
Tech: clone scene worked well with only a minimal establishing shot, lots of traditional over the shoulder dialog shots and one split screen at the end; also used shallow depth of field to hide the stand-in and cool angles (stand-in lying down with only feet visible at that angle while other sitting up in bed)

Tuesday 6/25/13
Source Code
Alan Turing doc; eh, it was OK; I like Cryptonomicon and Diamond Age better
Tech: apparently one can never have too much of an actor looking all cute and thinky on camera

Lesbiana - a parallel revolution
Startlingly thinky, very educational about the 80s ish radical feminist / lesbian separatist / womyn's music festival community
Tech: Was it the nostalgic, in-group tone that made it feel non-preachy? Was it that the filmmaker thought we had all been there that meant I was able to learn a lot about a prickly controversial subject without getting my hackles raised?

The Out List
Great "Word Is Out" style documentary, with all the modern advances of polish and editing and celebrity
Tech: the reason it looks like they're looking into the camera is that they are looking at a reflected live image of the interviewer (half-silvered mirror?) placed directly in front of the camera lens & vice versa; also the super clean style worked well, only video footage was from the interview (subject seated with identical neutral backdrops) and intercut with occasional still images

In the Name of
Catholic priest angst; really pretty colors and lighting, interesting characters, not a lot of talking (so I struggled to stay awake)
Tech: side lighting from a big window looks pretty awesome; don't be afraid to put God in films (oooh - Judith and the Head of Holofernes would make a great short film!)

The Happy Sad
Eh, it was OK; had some nice parts but not a movie I really need to see again
Tech: don't ramble during Q&A ... I'm hating the film a lot more now that I have to listen; the roots band parts were a highlight probably because that is the actors band so it felt real and not cliche fake; good reason to make use of cast's natural talents

Wednesday 6/26/13
Gore Vidal
Wow! Good documentary about a really incredibly rich life ... was there any person or any major event in American history he wasn't involved in?!
Tech: filmed over 4 years; documentaries sure take a long time don't they? Also even in a long form doc (as opposed to a short vid) the one time they tried to get away with using the exact same clip twice it really stood out annoyingly (closeup of his hands writing in cursive on notepaper)

The battle of AmFAR
Awesome! Glamorous scientist and activist Dr Matilde Krim is my new hero.
Tech: science narrative: she saw newsreels of concentration camps, her parents said they were just propaganda, she decided to focus on facts, then 40 years later when she started getting involved with AIDS she recognized the same pattern of denial and used all of her gifts to get the word out and mobilize helpful resources (much cooler than the stale daddy issues and lost love stories we usually get with mad scientists)

Bi Candy
Bleh, high production vales all around but only Housebroken was even tolerably watchable; one was indecipherable and the other three were all tragic infidelity and angst; not candy at all!
Tech: depth of field makes things look awesome, also white Christmas lights on walls are very pretty

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
Magical realism! This one was bittersweet and pretty; ending was a little sad but you felt mostly good about it
Tech: magical realism is cool; at its simplest is the probably imaginary character who suddenly appears and talks to the protagonist, but with no fairy dust or big reaction

Thursday 6/27/13
Music shorts
All of them were fabulous!
Musicals and docs! Edmonton and LA! Choreographed and scripted versus crowd sourced and edited!
Tech: the man that got away (the one about Uncle Jimmy) worked really well with period costumes in a gigantic spiral parking ramp (felt like magical realism)

Hot Guys With Guns
Cute! My expectations were a little too high, but I had a good time. Comedy noir crime thriller, actor/playboy pretending to be private investigators; more 'gay sex party' than 'slashy buddy cop', but pretty cool anyway
Tech: changing camera zoom between takes can make it easier to cut later (as does having something to cut away to: hands, other person; zoom change is useful when those options don't make sense)

Doc on a trans group concert tour
Oh my, I am not a fan of the music or the video artist! On the other hand, I appreciated the variety of feminine expression in the models (glam diva to elder elegance to goth to rolling stone to horror to freak) and the interviews of the models (math prof!)
Tech: all sorts of beauty are possible; don't be too trapped by mainstream beauty; also for me people are so much prettier once I've heard them speak (or less so if I judge them too hard)

Ian Harvie Superhero
Woo hoo! Awesome!
(the D Lo short was also really cool; I should try to see a show sometime)
Tech: puppets/Legos are very cute; give them a try (maybe try video of barbies?)

Friday 6/28/13
World Shorts
Ugh, so much violence! I want warnings!
'For Dorian' was really good; I cringed at the tension of domestic violence (after the two films before it) but it didn't actually go there beyond a few harsh words and it had a really hopeful/happy ending

The Little House That Could
Terrible doc; it was clear there was some sort of story there about Ms Fields and her contributions to fashion and culture but the film made you work hard to piece it together; maybe too much personal and not enough about the clothes? Rambling narrative thread and bad mushy sound didn't help.
Tech: yes, sound can be so bad it's unintelligible

The short before it (I've Only Just Begun) was interesting and gorgeous; pretty images of a queer procession carrying a drag Mary on a decorated float through a forest and vanquishing foes on the road to St Petersburg

Blood in the grass
Horror et al shorts (my hopes are irrationally high these will be dark genre gems but probably it will just be more surprise angst violence)
Woo! They were (all but one) genre! Hooray! None were quite up my alley but all were noble attempts and I was happy to watch. There totally needs to be more queer speculative fiction!!
Tech: 'The Naturalist' had such a gorgeous look to it: hipster retro darwin whitman botanical art design and natural lighting - beards and bugs, white sheets and huge windows

Saturday 6/29/13
Last Call at Maud's
20th anniversary screening
Cool; good look at early lesbian bar history; interesting the ways it does and does not intersect with gay male club history.
Tech: good sound really contributes a lot to watch ability (this was shot on video in the early 90s but it looked Ok and sounded great)

Queer Farmer Film Project
Yippee! This was awesome!!!!!!! So great to see rural queers and people connected to the land and food and justice and communities in ways that contradict entrenched stereotypes.
Tech: a few long screens of text; those would have been so much better as voice over or just a staged reading

Burning Blue
Top Gun ish - Pretty great, definitely exceeded my expectations! Tragic (but not much more so than Top Gun) and with a satisfying resolution; high production values and serious tone, a bit dated (but forgivably so ... firmly a product of the late 80s)
Tech: "premium stock footage" is apparently the way they got those amazing aircraft carrier and jet shots, also paying a lot of money to be able to film a bit on a carrier

Loreta Velasquez- Cuban, confederate soldier, then spy, then author! Really cool story, makes me want to read Velasquez's book.
Tech: Ken Burns' style is really iconic, also fancy typography is dumb (the glowy fluttery letter that exploded into tiny letters looked cheesy and made for TV; plain solid still text would have been much cooler)

The Secret Disco Revolution
Omg this is the most fantastic thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!
This would be a good concept for a 'secret masters of fandom' conspiracy documentary!
Tech: the sorta-fictional frame story dumbshow was incredibly effective

Sunday (left my phone at home)
Fun in girls shorts - really fun
Fun in boys shorts - ditto
It's All So Quiet - as advertised, not my kind if film; all silence and angst
G.B.F. - nice happy teen movie, cute and funny; and (unlike Pretty in Pink) the main character ends up with the best friend! Yay!
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