The Doc’s Are In: SF’s Frameline Film Fest’s Diversity Can Be Found in the Documentaries by Kevin M. Thomas

Frameline, the 39th annual LGBTQ film festival, has an eclectic mix of documentaries that explore topics from Hollywood icons to acceptance.

Many were not available to screen in advance, but here are some highlights of films worth catching before the festival ends June 28.

"Tab Hunter Confidential"

“Tab Hunter Confidential”

Tab Hunter Confidential” is exactly what I look for in a documentary. It gives insight and depth to a story I thought I already knew. As a film and arts lover, I already knew of Hunter and his heartthrob status as a young actor. But I completely forgot he was a singer and I didn’t know about his gay love affairs that happened right under Hollywood’s nose. For someone so ingrained in the history of the arts, I was surprised about his Oscar nominated boyfriend who I thought was straight as well. If you don’t already know who this is, you will have to learn the “Confidential” side of Hunter yourself by viewing this informative and entertaining movie.

Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story” is a fascinating view and wonderful profile of Holmes, who was an educated gentleman who reached socialite status due to his fortune being earned from starting his own gay pornography empire. Holmes shows how much porn is a truly a business like any other, opening the door to have an active public career,

"Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story"

“Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story”

befriending the Clintons and getting involved in many philanthropic causes including the Human Rights Campaign.  The jet setter seemed to fit in with those born with a silver spoon in their mouth and was often generous beyond belief (even though many times his donations would not be publicized from people who would take his money but didn’t want people to know where it came from). The film shows his growth as a business man as it goes through many trying times in his career, including the effect of AIDS on the porn industry.

Reel in the Closet” is very much a glimpse into gay history. The film contains some great interviews with historians. Before you scream snooze – these folks were instrumental in gathering old films and even home movies to show LGBTQ life from eras long forgotten. “Reel” turns to these librarian as a way to document early lifestyles of homosexuality. It is completing engrossing to get a glimpse of forgotten personal home movies of same-sex dance parties, friends frolicking in a pool and even personal moments of couples at their most intimate level. Besides the

"Reel in the Closet"

“Reel in the Closet”

personal view of early gay life, some gay journalists retained footage that never made it to the air in many landmark gay stories that also demonstrates how the news isn’t always unbiased. Thank goodness for these historians who realized this footage is matter and retained and archived so our history can always be preserved.

The Same Difference” is also an informative film that deals with the labels that we all put on each other and, at the end of the day, we’re all still the same people. The film focuses on the lesbian world and is mostly from the African American woman’s point of view. The film breaks down the roles we all play in dating, relationships and how we present ourselves to the world. Whether they are a “stud” (a butch lesbian) or a femme, “Same Difference” explores how they are labeled and viewed from people in their own communities and how judgements are made. It isn’t limited to the black community either as the film shares how sometimes the relationships between these archetypes of women are viewed different if they were white or mixed. A real eye opener and educational.

"The Same Difference"

“The Same Difference”

Ascendance: The Angels of Change Documentary” is perhaps one of the most uplifting and joyous films in this year’s festival. Thank you, producer

"Ascendance: The Angels of Change Documentary"

“Ascendance: The Angels of Change Documentary”

Bamby Salcedo. Not only for bringing this film to us, but for all you do for the trans-youth community. Among other things, Salcedo puts on an annual runway show with trans youth and the film follows the days that lead up to this well received event. The show is done, in conjunction with calendar sales featuring the youth, to raise monies for youth in transition who may not have the means or support to make the change. Salcedo helps the youth to celebrate themselves and shows there is strength in numbers so no one ever needs to feel alone or different as there is always someone just like us ready to love and support.

El Canto del Colibri” tells the stories of Latin fathers and their acceptance of their LGBTQ children is a topic that really hasn’t been told in a documentary film. The emotions rise high as the machismo level in a Latin family is palatable. Structure wise, the movie would have been better with less talking heads. Yet, the interviewer breaks behind that and gets most of these fathers to realize that it’s family first.

gamefaceGame Face” is an excellent doc that shows the struggles that gay and transgender athletes face. Perhaps lost in the shadow of a more high profile sports film at Frameline, “Face” truly shows you the face behind athletes that face an uphill battle just for staying at the time of their game, but face further challenges in trying to make the bold move in being who they really are.

To check out these films and more, go to