The 26th Annual SF
International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and other sizzling cinema
By Tom Mayer
Twenty-six years – more than a quarter of a century! The
26th annual SF International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
opens on Thursday, June 13 at the Castro Theater and the Herbst Theater,
and closes on Sunday, June 30, after presenting one of the largest
showcases for queer cinema anywhere in the world.
This festival, now the largest film festival of any kind
in California, will present 289 films and videos, including 80 features
and 209 short films. This year, a great many new features are from Asian
countries, including some made secretly in China and brought out in
secret to be edited and released elsewhere.
After 25 years at the Roxie Cinema and 12 years at the
Victoria Theater, the directors of the festival decided to reduce the
number of venues to two, and to extend the festival to 18 days. By
adding the Herbst Theater, according to executive director Michael
Lumpkin, “40,000 extra admissions” are added, since the Herbst is larger
than the Roxie and Victoria put together.
opening night film at the Castro Theater will be
Yu, directed by Stanley Kwan in China, and edited
and released after being smuggled out of the country. This love story,
based on an illicit internet-distributed novel, spans a ten-year period
including the 1989 resistance in Tienanmen Square.
The opening night film at the Herbst Theater will be
Notorious C.H.O., starring comedian Margaret Cho
in her latest and possibly most outrageous performance film. On
subsequent nights, films will be premiered from many countries around
the world, including Burma, Slovenia, Hungary, Norway, Korea, England,
Mexico, Italy, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Russia, Iran,
Japan, and Argentina.
Local filmmakers will be represented by a large number
of films, including
Harold’s Historic Homo Home Movies, at the Herbst
on Sunday, June 23. Filmed in SF and the Bay Area over the last 50 years
by the now 91-year-old Harold O’Neal, HHHHM shows a vanished
underground subculture of day trips, bars, nightclubs, and drag queens.
The festival is sponsored by the City and County of San
Francisco, the San Francisco Arts Commission, National Endowment for the
Arts, the California Arts Council, the Sundance Channel, the Goethe
Institute, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and many
other foundations and corporations.
Tickets are available at the Festival Ticket Outlet set
up at the new LGBT Community Center at 1800 Market Street (corner of
Octavia) from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm daily through June 29. Tickets may
also be purchased online at
or by phone 925) 866-9559, fax 925 866-9597, or by
mail (SFILGFF, PO Box 2229, Danville CA 94526). For more information on
the festival and how to purchase tickets, call the 24-hour hotline at
925 866-9559 or visit the festival online at
The decision by Frameline to hold the Lesbian and Gay
Film Festival only at the Castro and the Herbst – to pull out of the
Roxie after 24 years and the Victoria after 12 years – is really
unfortunate. This development comes at a difficult time for both the
Roxie and the Victoria.
Roxie just had a much-publicized benefit fundraiser for itself, along
with a long article in the
The Roxie’s problems included four months’ back rent (about $32,000), a
lien placed on the property by the electrician doing the work for the
Roxie’s new 50-seat theater ($30,000), and back taxes of undetermined
The benefit was a huge success, but it only erased part
of the theater’s debt described. See
for more info on their new schedule.
Victoria Theater (built in 1908) is SF’s oldest theater and a registered
SF landmark. Over the years, it has featured vaudeville, live
performances, many films, and film festivals. Since March 1979, when it
reopened under the ownership of Anita and Robert Correa, it has hosted
many theater groups and film festivals.
But recently, the Victoria has been booked only
sporadically – at the same time, it is virtually the only theater in SF
that can be booked on short notice.
for more information.
It is unclear if there is any long-term solution for the
problems of the Roxie and Victoria.
new group has been formed to save the remaining single-screen theaters
in SF. This group, the S. F. Neighborhood Theater Foundation, was
recently founded by Alfonso Felder of the S. F. Giants and Denise
LaPointe, former president of the Landmarks Board, among others.
The group is fully aware that some theaters are beyond
saving but, members say, the remaining theaters are important to the
vitality of the neighborhood that they are in and should be saved if at
Their primary crusades right now are Cinema 21 on
Chestnut Street (poised to become a Walgreens until the
Planning Commission vetoed the attempt this week),
the New Mission Theater on Mission Street (owned by SF City College for
its new Mission campus), and the Roxie Cinema.
The Cinema 21’s marquee reads (or did read until
recently) “Theater Closed – Go to the Presidio Theater,” a nice gesture
except for the cloud of rumors that the Presidio, having the same owner
as the Cinema 21, will be next to close.
to see what can be done, and for links to Cinema 21, the
New Mission, and the Roxie. Email Alfonso Felder of SFNTF at
for more info on how to get involved. A complete list
of SF single-screen theaters which have closed since 1980 can be found
The Castro Theater celebrates its 80th anniversary on
Thursday, July 18, with live performances by local musical groups at
7:00 pm and Footlight Parade (1933) with James Cagney at 9:00 pm.
Admission is $8. All patrons will receive a copy of the
Castro's original program. Pick up the new Castro Theater schedule, or
www.thecastrotheatre.com, for more details.
By the way, the true anniversary is June 22 (the
invitation-only opening night was June 22, 1922 with Mayor Sunny Jim
Rolph and other dignitaries in attendance) and June 23 (the opening to
the general public), but the Castro chooses to postpone its celebration
because these anniversary dates always occur during the Lesbian and Gay