Frameline Film Festival: America’s largest LGBTQI indie fest
Founded in 1977, Frameline Film Festival prides itself as being the United States’ largest and longest-running film fest devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer programming. Organized by Frameline – the San Francisco organization that bills itself as the largest LGBTQ film media arts nonprofit in the world – the event draws in crowds of between 60,000 to 80,000 people to the San Francisco Bay Area every June. The eleven-day event’s closing night coincides with the city’s annual Gay Pride Day, which takes place on the last Sunday of the month.
With the mission “to change the world through the power of queer cinema,” the festival’s annual honors include The Frameline Award, given to an individual who has played a key role in the history of LGBTQI cinema, and audience awards are handed out for Best Feature, Best Documentary, and Best Short.
Previously named the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, in 2004 (the festival’s 28th year) it was renamed Frameline28, the number of which goes up by one each year. Executive Director of Frameline since 2014, Frances Wallace, told Film Daily, “Frameline began more than 41 years ago, starting with LGBTQ artists projecting their stories onto a sheet at a community center in San Francisco.
“Since then, Frameline has grown into the world’s largest and longest-running exhibition of queer media. Looking to Frameline42 – June 14 – 24, 2018 – we forge ahead as a platform for voice and visibility for LGBTQ creators to tell their unique stories, which are vital to an ongoing conversation, inspiring action, and producing meaningful change.”
Much like San Francisco itself, the festival has a strong vibrant history of queer activism, often celebrated in the event’s opening night speeches. However, Frameline is more than just a festival to celebrate LGBTQI storytelling & activism – it also offers filmmakers support in numerous ways. In his 2017 book The Queer Film Festival: Popcorn and Politics, Stuart James Richards highlighted the Frameline Completion Fund, which provides grants between $1500 to $5000 to emerging & established filmmakers.
“Films that have benefitted from the Frameline Completion Fund include Go Fish (Rose Troche, 1994), Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996), By Hook or By Crook (Harry Dodge and Silas Howard, 2001), We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco (David Weissman, 2010), Frameline35 opening night feature Gun Hill Road (Rashaad Ernesto Green, 2011), and Pariah (Dee Rees, 2011).”
Since 1990, Frameline has awarded more than $515,000 to 149 film projects by and about the LGBTQI community. “Now, more than ever, Frameline forges ahead, supporting these stellar projects and media creators,” explained Wallace. “These storytellers bring diverse perspectives and broad representation of LGBTQ content to a worldwide audience, ensuring that dialogue and change continue.”