Friday, June 21, 2024
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It’s back and intimate: SF Queer Film Fest

The Second Annual SF Queer Film Festival returns to the City by the Bay from August 26-28, 2022.

It’s quite unique as it is a more intimate film festival and screens at the Delancey Street Screening Room rather than a traditional movie theatre.

The screening room is known for the place filmmakers go and check out their clips of movies while they are filming in San Francisco and members of the Academy are often invited to screen Oscar-hopeful movies so they can get the full picture and sound quality in a state-of-the-art facility worthy of an Oscar.

And while audience members may be giving up popcorn and sodas, Executive Director Amir Jaffer and his team promise that many screenings will include receptions of cocktails and snacks, which will give the audience a chance to mingle with each other to discuss the films and possibly be able to talk to filmmakers about their work in the screening rooms foyer or outside by the beautiful water fountain.

Some have wondered if this is an extension to or in competition with Frameline, the COUNTRY’s longest running LGBTQ+ film festival.

Jaffer says not. He says that no one can compete with the OG of film festivals — and he wouldn’t want to. But Jaffer, a filmmaker himself, says that in talking with friends in the community, many people are disappointed that their film didn’t get chosen by Frameline.

Films not chosen don’t always have to do with quality — a lot of times it’s just time. Jaffer has pointed out that the number of LGBTQ+ filmmakers have grown dramatically over the years and they want to get their stories told and voices heard. Frameline can’t screen every great movie as there’s just too much content and too little time.

So that inspired Jaffer to start the SF Queer Film Festival, one of the many growing LGBTQ festivals in the Bay Area. Not only is an additional chance for filmmakers to be heard and seen in San Francisco, but the festival content includes a lot more short films as well as topical documentaries.

Some highlights this year include the opening night program from HERE TV. The festival will feature an award winning short about a love story set inside a concentration camp, entitled No Goodbyes, directed by Billy Clift who was a long-time resident of San Francisco.

Accompanying that short is HERE TV’s latest documentary 100 Years of Men in Love: The Accidental Collection. This film continues to prove HERE is a new voice to be heard in the area of documentaries, having won Emmys and nominations for their previous documentaries. This touching story is about a couple who stumble across a picture that subtly shows the intimacy between two men during a time when gay love was very taboo. So the subjects of the film take on a project of uncovering other similar photos and wonder about the stories behind them.

Prior to that screening, also on Friday, is a segment called Bay Area Maverick. Jaffer said in this segment he will focus each year on one Bay Area filmmaker. This year the filmmaker is Matthew Riutta who brings his anthology of short films Elements to the festival. Riutta and much of his cast and crew will be on hand for the program.  He’s been mostly showing these shorts as individual films across the country, winning awards left and right. Last year, one of these shorts, Median, played the festival and became an instant hit with the audience. While the stories are all different, they are tied together by taking place on the same day and tying together using four of the five elements.

Three sets of shorts screen before these. Haven’t seen many of these but had seen Two-headed Calves, a 29-minute German film about a wedding that takes place shortly after the husband is “cured” by conversation therapy. (That’s in the Worlds Apartblack program.)

Saturday is filled with many great short films. One program we hear is very popular is entitled Box of Chocolates. This segment has five short films including the outrageous comedy This Old Tearoom about a TV host who is working on an episode about glory hole cozies! Then there are two shorts about love and relationships that take us from romantic to tragic in a matter of minutes.

A highlight on Saturday is WebOUT. Biased here as I hand-picked the web series in this program. This will feature an anniversary screening of Oakland’s own trailblazing Dyke Central, in which many of those involved with be on hand. Also, there’s an episode of series that deals with a bottom — finding out they have a date that night — so what do they do about brunch? All six of these shows are so wonderful — I could go on and on. Just remember — I didn’t make them — I just picked them. So I definitely love them. (I also hear “Barbra Streisand” will make an appearance at this segment.)

There’s also a program called Unsung Heroes that features the short documentary Surviving Voices, telling of how, after 40 years, the AIDS pandemic still impacts the black community. Sponsored by the National AIDS Memorial, there will be a panel discussion which should enlighten us on how the National AIDS Memorial ensures stories and lessons are retained and how each year they identity an underrepresented community and puts it in the spotlight in the hopes of helping that community with AIDS education.

Sunday, the final day, starts with an interesting mix of animated short films and then moves on to the Mela Festival part of the program, where the three films are as celebratory as the Mela Festival itself. Taking a page out of the South Indian festival, which means to gather, the films celebrate people in love — whether they are lesbians, gay men, bi or transgender.

The festival ends with Black As U R, which has won attention and awards across the country and delves into queerphobia among the black community. 

Like all film festivals, too much content and too little time. Check out the options and see it’s only $10 a ticket in advance at

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Kevin M. Thomas

Kevin M. Thomas, or @ReelKev, is an arts blogger and entertainment reporter. In addition to his own website, and ReelKev YouTube channel, Kevin used to be the LGBT arts writer for and contributes to as well as a semi-regular on San Francisco's cable TV show, "10 Percent."

Kevin M. Thomas has 157 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin M. Thomas

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