The 2021 Frameline Film Festival, San Francisco’s annual LGBTQ+ film showcase, features Potato Dreams of America, Instruction for Survival, and Dear Tenant.
At Seventh Row, we pride ourselves on seeking out the best hidden gems that nobody’s talking about to ensure that our readers never miss a great film again.
San Francisco-based LGBTQ+ festival Frameline returns for its 45th year from the 17th-27th of June 2021.
How to get tickets for the 2021 Frameline Film Festival
Sixty presentations, fifty films, and ten talks are available digitally across the US throughout the festival with a streaming pass (starting at $95) or individual tickets ($10).
What we recommend at the 2021 Frameline Film Festival
As I said in my preview for last year’s festival, events like Frameline are hugely important in creating spaces where the complexity and variety of queer life is visible.
Below is my preview for a small selection of the festival programme.
Potato Dreams of America
Potato Dreams of America is a semi-autobiographical film directed by Wes Hurley about ‘Potato’ (Hersh Powers and Tyler Bocock), a gay Russian boy living with his single mother in the final days of the USSR. They move to Seattle after his mother becomes a mail-order bride. With the help of his newfound freedom and the films of Gregg Akari, Potato begins to embrace his queer identity.
The film’s opening scenes are located mostly within the static, sitcom-like set of Potato’s Russian home, where deadpan dialogue is delivered in American accents. However, the move to America brings a new actor, halting Russian-accented English, and more authentic, lifelike sets. This unique structure — and memorable quirks like cameos from Jesus Christ and a singing Mary Magdalene — creates a comedy that satisfyingly mixes darkness and whimsy.
Instructions for Survival
Yana Ugrekhelidze’s documentary Instructions for Survival opens on bracing images of violent anti-LGBT protests in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. This immediately establishes the bleak and tense atmosphere that suffuses the film as we follow Alexander, a transgender man who is struggling to create a safe, stable life for himself and his wife, Mari. Warm, candid glimpses of their relationship are effectively contrasted with the scrutiny and transphobia that pervades much of Alexander’s day-to-day life. There is perhaps an overemphasis on Mari and her surrogacy, to the detriment of both Alexander’s narrative and the all-too-brief references to the tight-knit transgender community in Georgia. However, the film is, for the most part, a respectful portrayal of the couple’s struggle for dignity and freedom in an oppressive society.
Dear Tenant is a Taiwanese drama directed by Cheng Yu-chieh about Mr Lin (Morning Tzu-Yi Mo), a young man who is the tenant of an elderly woman (Shu-Fang Chen), Grandmother, and her grandson, Yo-Yu (Run-yin Bai). When Grandmother suddenly dies, Mr Lin adopts Yo-Yu and is faced with harsh questions from police and Grandmother’s relatives about the nature of her death. Secrets regarding Mr Lin’s actions and his relationship with Yo-Yu’s dead father (Chun-Yao Yao) are slowly revealed through scattered flashbacks and police interrogations. Tension is effectively built as this harsh, implicitly homophobic probing impacts Mr Lin’s life, especially his job as a piano teacher. The revelations of the final act are overburdened with melodrama, but what proceeds it is a compelling, melancholic slow burn.
You could be missing out on opportunities to watch great films like the 2021 Frameline Film Festival highlights at virtual cinemas, VOD, and festivals.
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