Sunday, June 28, 2009


San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival
Worldy Affairs
Friday June 26 | 3:15pm | Castro

Raw Love (Juan Chappa, Martin Deus; Argentina)
Somebody is Watching Us (Maxine Desmons; Canada)
Teddy (Christopher Banks; New Zealand)
Baby Shark (Pascal-Alex Vincent; France)
The Saint (Elfe Uluç; Turkey)
Mother Knows Best (Bardi Gudmundsson; Iceland)

Even for this weekday matinee, the downstairs section of the Castro Theater was full, & I ended up sitting in the balcony. The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival presented a program of international short subjects. I saw films from such unlikely countries as New Zealand, Turkey & Iceland. Thematically these films were all over the place, & they dealt with their gay content with varying degrees of depth. I'm not even sure that Baby Shark, a film about teenage sibling rivalry, had any gay content at all, other than that it gives the audience an excuse to look at shirtless teenagers. It is, however, also full of unpleasant moments.

In Somebody is Watching Us a men's room encounter has an affectionate aftermath, but I found it too unbelievable. In Teddy a teddy bear symbolizes a broken relationship which the protagonist wishes to revive, but I fear that I am not romantic enough to believe in this story either. The Saint is a damning look at poverty, though I found myself a bit angry at its portrayal of the main character as simply benevolent, harmless & passive.

The comedic Mother Knows Best had its world premiere at the screening & was the easiest short to enjoy. Even though it traffics in stereotypes about over-bearing mothers & mama's boys, it has an innocence about it & a wonderful performance in the title role. I was fascinated just by its Icelandic setting & the stunning mountain landscape visible in a few shots. It also features some of the ugliest food I have ever seen. It even managed to make a piece of chocolate cake look comically unappetizing.

As always, the Castro audience was lively & enthusiastic. The directors Christopher Banks, Bardi Gudmundsson & Pascal-Alex Vincent were on hand, as well as the twin brother in Baby Shark. They answered a few questions after the screening, but we were not a very bright audience.

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