It’s time once again for Frameline (or, should you prefer something a little wordier, the 41st Annual San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival). Opening on Thursday, June 15, and continuing for the following ten days, the festival’s East Bay programming returns this year to both Landmark Theatre’s Piedmont and Rialto Cinemas Elmwood — but there’s plenty on the other side of the bridge if you feel so inclined.
Directed by Valerie Weiss, The Archer (screening at the Piedmont at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 23) isn’t typical film festival fare. Decidedly populist in both content and style, the film is a politically aware ‘women-in-prison’ flick not a million miles from those produced by Roger Corman back in the 1970s. (That’s praise, by the way, not criticism.)
‘Inspired by actual events’, Weiss’s film stars Bailey Noble as Lauren, a teenage archery champion sent to juvie after she beats the living tar out of a friend’s abusive boyfriend. Located in the middle of nowhere (actually Idyllwild, California), the facility is the fiefdom of warden Bob Patrice (Bill Sage), himself an archery enthusiast who enjoys bow hunting when he isn’t abusing and torturing young women in his care.
Lauren naturally takes exception to his behavior, and she and fellow inmate (and love interest) Rebecca (Jeanine Mason) make a desperate break for freedom. Will they escape, or will Warden Patrice and his equally unpleasant son Mike (Michael Grant Terry) recapture them and make them spend a night in the box?
Anchored by Sage’s performance – which somehow fuses the most unpleasant aspects of Martin Sheen, Gary Busey, and eighties B-movie villain Gregg Henry into one monstrous amalgam — The Archer is an excellent thriller and a so-so message pic. At the very least you’ll be entertained.
Screening exclusively at San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution is a worthy companion piece to the recently released Turn It Around, even featuring some of the same interview subjects (Lawrence Livermore, Kathleen Hanna). Focusing on a scene that didn’t exist until underground filmmaker Bruce La Bruce willed it into existence, Queercore offers a broad overview of the relationship between gay liberation, punk rock, and situationism. Fans of Pansy Division, Bikini Kill, and Guy Debord won’t want to miss it.
Josh Howard’s The Lavender Scare (screening at the Piedmont at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 24) examines the gay panic of the 1950s, when the U.S. Department of State and other government agencies purged homosexual employees from their ranks. In addition to its value as a history lesson, the film also serves as a tribute to civil rights hero Frank Kameny, who out of sheer cussedness refused to go quietly into that good night after getting fired.
I hesitate to call it the highlight of the festival, but Jonathan Olshefski’s Quest (screening at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre at 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 18) certainly feels like something very special. Shot in Philadelphia, the film follows the travails and triumphs of the Raineys, a working-class family surviving and thriving in the face of poverty, crime, and racism. This is the sort of film that truly deserves recognition beyond a single screening at a film festival — here’s hoping it gets a general release.
Finally, Mansfield 66/67 (screening at the Castro at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 24) is a delightfully skew-whiff salute to the one and only Jayne Mansfield, whose dalliance with the Church of Satan’s Anton LaVey ended spookily in a late-night car accident on a Louisiana back road. John Waters, Mary Woronov, and Kenneth Anger are on hand to explain things.