The 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival opens today with many GLBT-oriented titles from around the globe.
One very interesting choice was filmed closer to home. "Last Weekend," which plays May 2 and 5, takes places in Tahoe City. The wonderful story of an affluent family, lead by the always amazing Patricia Clarkson, deals with a family that just doesn't spend enough time together. Bubbling under more serious problems that aren't addressed, the story focuses on whether the parents should keep their summer house, which seems utilized less each year.
With a great supporting cast, the movie also peppers in appearances by some other standout talents including Mary Kay Place and Judith Light. The film is also shot very well, making the summer hold a place to behold and the city one to add to your travel plans. Further, it is true to life in its depiction of trying for family acceptance and not dealing with one's problems until you're forced to. Many of the problems in this family's last weekend are skirted but we know will be dealt with later when they family is forced to face them.
"Eastern Boys," which starts in Berkeley April 30 and then plays in San Francisco May 2 and 4, is a movie you need to stay with for its richness to shine through.
It starts off almost as if you're watching a foreign film without subtitles - which you actually are. But it seems what is said before subtitles come into play is not for the benefit of the audience...yet.
"Boys" is a story of a gang of young men from an Eastern European country who hang out at a Paris train station, waiting for their pray. Sometimes their pray comes in the form of a quick petty theft done in the light of day. But others it involves the older boys pimping themselves out in order to have access to someone's apartment.
When 50-something Daniel makes a connection with hustler Marek, then the subtitles enter the picture and the story comes more into focus. The fact that Marek makes a date to meet Daniel at his apartment and he brings his band of thieves to rob Daniel instead of having sex is only the beginning of this intriguing and complex tale, told in four chapters.
"What Now? Remind Me," playing April 25 in San Francisco and April 27 in Berkeley, is a documentary that chronicles one year in the life of its Portuguese director Joaquim Pinto as he shares his experience with HIV and the side effects of drugs. Pinto's film has great use of photographs and voice over that its telling is very poetic and might even seem more a narrative feature rather than a documentary.
"Bad Hair," playing May 1 and 4 in San Francisco and then May 7 in the East Bay, is about a Caracas single mother who some how wonders if her son's interest in straightening out his hair is a failing as a parent and worries this might make he come across as feminine. The film sounds light hearted enough, but promises to have deeper rooted issues.
"The Dune," plays May 4 and 6 in San Francisco and then May 8 in Berkeley, connects two stories - one from Israel and one from France. Worth noting, the French characters are part of a rare love story shown on screen as the gay couple are senior citizens and the movie shows all aspects of love - the good, the bad and the ugly and doesn't seem to glamorize it.
France also brings us "Yves Saint Laurent," which just played at New York's Tribeca Film Festival and now we have May 6 and 8. A story of Saint Laurent's rise to the top of the fashion world has great buzz around actor Pierre Niney who is said to do a miraculous job of bringing realness to the role of the iconic character.
"The Skeleton Twins," playing May 1 and 2, is perhaps one of the biggest movies here representing GLBT interests as it features some well-known stars: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Luke Wilson. It's a rare dramatic role for both lead stars who reunited after Hader's relationship ends with his boyfriend Wilson.
"The Dog," a documentary playing April 27 and 28 in San Francisco and May 3 in Berkeley, is a story we all know as it's the true story behind the bank robbery made famous in the Al Pacino film, "Dog Day Afternoon." This movie hopes to separate fact from fiction in the story of the transgender bride in the Pacino film.
"Salvation Army," playing May 2 and 6 in San Francisco and May 4 in Berkeley, is already a popular title and hasn't even screened here. First time director Abdellah Taïa recreates his own story of coming out as a young Morrocan boy to a society that shuns him and to a family of physical abuse and to the prey that uses him. Buzz has this a movie not to be missed and you have three chances to see it here.
For show times and to see other titles, go to www.sffs.org/festival-home.