Frameline44 Screens New LGBTQ Documentaries


By Moira Sullivan

There were several excellent documentaries at the Frameline44 film festival that ended in September that are about LGBT culture. The importance of this festival for profiling new films that concern the lives of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders was certainly felt this year with these excellent films. 

Cured (see clip above) is a new film directed by Patrick Sammon and Bennet Singer about  the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. There was so much involved in this decision and the filmmakers take us on a journey to the beginnings of this important recall. The film is brilliantly edited to make this historical period come to life.

Ahead of the Curve

This documentary concerns the history of Curve magazine, a thriving, first glossy magazine about lesbians. The  film chronicles founder Franco Stevens and how her persistence kept the magazine flourishing from the early 90s through today. Directed by Jen Rainin, Ahead of the Curve is also a documentary about the lesbian community of the time and its changes. One of the biggest challenges for the magazine which was first called Deneuve is when Catherine Deneuve sued the magazine for using her name a lawsuit in which a settlement was reached to not use her name. And the name changed to Curve Another challenge is when while lifting boxes of the magazine one of them fell on the foot of the founder, Franco Stevens  and left her disabled. Stevens traveled all of the US and attended conferences and events and we follow her on this 30 year career. It’s an excellent documentary on the vision to put the word Lesbian on the cover of a successful magazine.

Killing Patient Zero 

Directed and written by Laurie Lynd, Killing Patient Zero is about the so-called 'patient zero', Gaëtan Dugas, during the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. He is been considered to be the spreader of the illness because of multiple partners but this documentary shows that he truth he helped scientists get a better picture of the illness by speaking openly about the illness. His family would not participate in this documentary but his friends and colleagues are interviewed and provide a touching tribute to him.

Unapologetic directed by Ashley O’Shay is about young organizers for BlackLivesMatter in Chicago. When two black Chicagoans, Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald, are murdered the young activists Janaé and Bella speak out and rally together support. 22 year old Bella goes on to create Sister Survivor Network, an organization that aims to help heal women impacted by America's prison system. 

These documentaries at this year's Frameline44 were very well made and engaging and stood out for me as the best films of the festival. During the pandemic watching these important histories so closely anchored in reality were impressive.

© 2020 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 10/07/20
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