No Hard Feelings directed by Faraz Shariat (Germany) 2020 reveals the ambivalence of the immigrant experience.
Parvis lives relatively open as a young gay man born in Germany of Iranian parents. Though he’s not immune from either antigay or xenophobic prejudice directed toward him.
While doing community service as a translator in a refugee settlement, he makes friends with a couple of Iranian siblings waiting for their status to be determined.
Other males in the camp are quite hostile and homophobic. However after some initial reticence a strong, loving relatlonship emerges. But love alone doesn’t solve all of the difficulties of Parvis, his parents, or his friends.
I highly recommend No Hard /feelings, now screening online as part of Frameine 44.
Round two of Frameline 44 takes place 17 – 27 September 2020 online. Tickets limited to California viewers.
My narrative picks are: Beautiful Dreamer directed by Amy Glazer (USA) 2020, Cicada directed by Mathew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare (USA) 2020, The Goddess Of Fortune directed by Ferzan Ozpetek (Italy) 2019, and No Hard Feelngs directed by Faraz Shariat (Germany) 2020.
Frameline 44 Pride Showcase screens 25 – 28 June 2020. Ahead Of The Curve directed by Jen Rainin (USA) 2020, a documentary about Curve magazine, will have a special showing at the West Wind Solano Drive-In Saturday 27 June 2020. All films will be streamed online in California.
The four narrative features I look forward to seeing are: Breaking Fast directed by Mike Mosallam (USA) 2020. Stage Mother directed by Thom Fitzgerald (USA) 2020, Summerland directed by Jessica Swale (UK) 2020, and Twilight’s Kiss (Suk Suk) directed by Ray Yeung (Hong Kong) 2019.
Dennis Peron is the one person in San Francisco best known for his advocacy of marijuana decriminalization. Brownie Mary briefly shared the media spotlight during the AIDS crises when she was arrested for providing chocolate baked edibles.
Home Baked by Alia Volz published 2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt tells the story of a lesser known purveyor of magic brownies who managed to operate surreptitiously in the city for several decades. The book focuses primarily on her mother Meridy Domnitz Volz, an aspiring artist who moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee.
Meridy Volz cautiously began selling Sticky Fingers Brownies in the 70s to street artists along Fishermen’s Wharf, a primarily tourist area on the northern part of San Francisco. But a decade later when the AIDS pandemic was devastating the gay male population, her brownies not only provided a tasty treat but helped many overcome wasting syndrome by stimulating appetites.
What went on behind the scenes was much more complicated both in terms of the personal dynamics and the unexpected business challenges. The author reveals a part of San Francisco history that comes as a surprise even to a native and long-term resident like myself.
Yoav’s personal and professional life is all about maintaining strict control over not only the present but also past and future as well. However, it begins to unravel when he no longer is able to have his way.
He is haunted by the unresolved trauma involving his relationship with his father and fears growing old. He rejects the implications of a surprising announcement by his best friend Alma, and the reaction of his lover Dan.
The two individuals closest to him manage to overcome the challenges while he relentlessly pursues a self-destructive path.
15 Years directed by Yuval Hadadi (Israel) 2019 is now available on DVD/VOD from Breaking Glass Pictures.
The Church of Latter Day Saints played an active role in 2008 supporting and funding Prop 8 in California, the ballot measure limiting marriage in the state to male-female couples. However the battle for marriage equality eventually reached Utah, the home state of Mormonism, in 2013.
A small, grassroots campaign begun by a local, inexperienced, gay activist in Salt Lake City triumphed there. Church & State directed by Holly Tuckett and Kendall Wilcox (USA) 2018 documents that amazing and contentious struggle.
I fully support building bridges to bring people together rather than constructing walls that divide one group from another. I believe diversity is a strength and am disturbed by those unwilling to venture beyond their narrow circle of like-minded individuals.
In 2017 the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus toured five homophobic states. It was a brave effort sensibly organized. They traveled to the South with open hearts, offering joyful and healing music to all willing to receive it.
Gay Chorus Deep South directed by David Charles Rodriguez (USA) 2019 is a documentary about that amazing tour and watching it I was often moved to tears.
The film includes several relevant personal stories as well as the reactions of people who attended performances. While most of the songs were traditional religious numbers, only one church agreed to host a concert.
Gay Chorus Deep South opens today for a limited theatrical engagement at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.
Pain And Glory directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain) 2019 is an introspective meditation.
While Almodóvar claims the film isn’t about himself, he’s taken considerable effort to pattern both the main character and his personal environment on his own physical appearance and the art and furnishings of his home.
The director in the film is unable to continue directing films because of numerous health problems so he replays significant scenes from the past in his head. Childhood poverty. His parents’ unsatisfactory relationship. Educational development. Plus a seminal relationship with an older man.
The process of continual retrospective review also provides an opportunity to reconnect with a difficult collaborator from the past who becomes an increasingly negative influence in the present.
There seems little hope that he’ll be able to overcome depression and hopelessness yet he manages to rise above the difficulties in his life.
Pain And Glory opens 11 October 2019 at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema, San Francisco and Landmark’s Aquarius Theatre, Palo Alto.
18 October 2019 at Shattuck Cinemas, Berkeley; AMC Saratoga 14, San Jose; and Smith Rafael Film Center, San Rafael.
1 November 2019 Landmark’s Piedmont Theatre, Oakland; The Tower Theatre, Sacramento; and Landmark’s Nickelodeon Theatre, Santa Cruz
8 November 2019 Regal UA Olympus Pointe, Roseville and Regal UA Stonestown Twin, San Francisco.