S.F. LGBT Film Festival to Focus on Queer Asian Cinema

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SAN FRANCISCO — As a world-renowned stage for the newest and most exciting voices in independent cinema, Frameline 37 will feature 29 films that examine queer life in films created by, for and about the Asian and Asian American LGBT community.

The international LGBT film festival runs from June 20 to 30 in San Francisco and Berkeley.

Narrative Features

“Bwakaw”

Veteran Filipino actor Eddie Garcia stars in director Jun Robles Lana’s “Bwakaw” as a crotchety and closeted man, faced with reminders of death and stirred by a new friendship, confronts the regrets of his life and attempts to find a self-affirming way forward in this moving and powerful drama.

Saadat Munir and Saad Khan’s “Chuppan Chupai” (Hide and Seek) follows the lives of four LGBT Pakistanis: activist Neeli, flighty but “famous” Kami, shy Waseem, and Jenny, a transgender woman who struggles with her transition. All live under the specter of Pakistan’s Shari’a laws forbidding homosexuality. Throughout the film, their lives in the urban centers of Lahore and Rawalpindi are shown to be alternately joyous and painful— symptomatic of life around the world.

From the countryside to a flashy resort cabaret in Thailand, seekers find rejection and love in “It Gets Better” (Mai Dai Kor Hai Ma Rak), a portrait of transgender lives rediscovered and redeemed, directed by a filmmaker (Tanwarin Sukkhapisit) who has fought bans against LGBT themes in Thai cinema.

Bright, entertaining and unabashedly soapy, Sarunya Noithai’s “She: Their Love Story” follows two Thai lesbians as they fall for ostensibly straight women. At times uproariously funny, the film is a crash course in Thai lesbian life.

The first film from Nepal dealing with lesbian love features a dangerous romance between middle-class college students whose families violently oppose it. Still, a dancer and her admirer decide to live together in defiance of their conservative society in Subarna Tharpe’s “Soongava—Dance of the Orchids.”

A young gay Korean doctor marries a lesbian co-worker in order to pass for heterosexual in a gay-unfriendly culture. This produces results both hilarious and tragic as they discover themselves and find fulfillment by accessing a deep courage within in Kim Jho Gwang-Soo’s “Two Weddings and a Funeral.”

“Two Weddings and a Funeral”

LeeSong Hee-il’s “White Night” (Baek Ya) is a contemporary film noir filled with unforgettable images and complex characters that focuses on real-world issues about homophobia in South Korean society while capturing the arresting and disturbing exploration of one man’s descent into the unsettling demons of his past.

Sweet, introverted Weichung is a closeted gay man with a wife, a son and a new lover in “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?,” Arvin Chen’s charming romantic comedy about love, family and sexuality — and the conflict many Asian gay men experience trying to reconcile all three.

Documentaries and Shorts

Director Fan Popo’s touching documentary about being gay in contemporary China, “Mama Rainbow,” introduces us to six different mothers of LGBT children and their own version of a “coming out” tale, as they begin to recognize, acknowledge, and accept the sexualities of their sons and daughters.

Frameline37 would not be complete without outstanding shorts programs. This year’s short films featuring Asian themes include:

Shorts program: “Between Ring & Pendant” — “Between “Between Ring & Pendant,” Hong Kong, Dir. Chi-Kwong Chow; “Born to Dance This Way,” USA, Dir. Jerell Rosales; “The Fiction of the Fix,” USA, Dir. Cathy Sitzes; “Kimchi Fried Dumplings,” Canada, Dir. Jason Karman; “Knighthood,” Taiwan, Dir. Pei-Ju Hsieh; “Two Girls Against the Rain,” Cambodia, Dir. Sao Sopheak; “Uncle and Son” (Hai Chu Chau), Vietnam, Dir. Dinh Anh Nguyen

Shorts program: “Bi Candy” — “After Hours,” USA, Dir. Alicia Goff

“Mama Rainbow”

Shorts program: “Fire We Make” — “By the Way,” USA, Dir. Shanti Lowry

Shorts program: “Get Animated!” — “Hawker,” Canada, Dir. Coco Riot and Elisha Lim; “Insert Credit,” Canada. Dir. David Nguyen; “Moth,” China, Dir. Mu Xi

Shorts program: “Rats in Glitter” — “Fan Christy (Cover) [Karaoke MV],” USA, Dir. Jai Arun Ravine and Jorrit Poelen; “Queer Origins,” USA, Dir. Celete Chan

Shorts program: “Transtastic!” — “Love Bang!,” Cambodia/USA, Dir. Viet Le

Shorts program: “Worldly Women” — “Cross Your Fingers,” UK, Dir. Yun Joo Chang

Short preceding “What’s the T?” — “A Difference,” USA, Dir. Ray Rea and Zion Johnson

Short preceding “Mama Rainbow” — “The Lala Road,” Australia, Dir. Letitia Lamb

Venues: Castro Theatre (429 Castro St.), Roxie Theater (3117 16th St.), and Victoria Theatre (2961 16th St.) in San Francisco, and Rialto Cinemas Elmwood (2966 College Ave.) in Berkeley. The Frameline Box Office, located inside Johnston Tax Group (237 Market St. at Noe), is open 1 to 8 p.m. daily. Tickets are also available online at www.frameline.org and via fax at (415) 861-1404).

Unless otherwise noted, tickets for matinee screenings (Monday-Friday, 5 p.m. and earlier) are $10 for the general public and $8 for Frameline members, while evening and weekend shows are $12 for the general public and $10 for members. Castro Passes, good for admission to all screenings at the Castro, other than opening night and closing night, are available for $200. Weekday matinee passes, good for admission to all weekday matinee screenings starting at 5 p.m. or earlier at the Castro, are available for $40 for the general public and $35 for members.

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