8 Must-See Movies at Frameline Film Festival 2014

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Photo: Frameline
Program guides of yore. Photo: Frameline

If the ubiquitous rainbow flags didn't tip you off, it's officially the month of the gays! And with that comes Frameline, San Francisco's 38th annual international LGBT film festival. For 11 whole days, gay people become more than just sassy sidekicks or crude caricatures and take center stage as human beings with their own stories to tell.

Film festivals can be daunting with their countless offerings so I've compiled a festival guide to make it easier to find what you're looking for.


MUST SEE: You're going to want to see Appropriate Behavior so that, a year from now when director/writer/actress Desiree Akhavan blows up, you can insufferably say, "Well, I saw her first movie when it was on the festival circuit." Or you're just going to want to see it because it's brilliant. The semi-autobiographical movie tells the story of a bisexual Iranian woman coming to terms with a recent breakup and her traditional family.


Since Akhavan got Sundance buzzing earlier this year, there's been a lot of talk about similarities to Lena Dunham (sigh), but this movie owes more to Woody Allen's Annie Hall than anything else. It's smart, unusual, and memorable -- the perfect combination. Set some time aside after the movie for reading all her tweets, watching her entire web series, and imagining what it would be like if you two were best friends. Friday June 27, 7pm at the Castro


COOL MOMS GONE WILD: Imagine if Amy Poehler's "I'm a cool mom" character from Mean Girls got her own feature length movie, and you get Helicopter Mom. Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame stars as a meddling mother who really wants the best for her gay son. She outs him to his entire school, applies for an out and proud scholarship and sets him up on gay dating sites. The only problem is that her son isn't exactly gay. If that's not enough to interest you, Lisa Loeb is in it and one character utters this line: "My son is not gay; he doesn't like pesto." Saturday June 21, 7pm at the Castro


JERRI BLANK IN DRAG: Written by and starring Brandon Alexander III, First Period is described as "Sixteen Candles meets Hairspray, with a dash of Strangers with Candy" and the main character, Cassie, lives up to that description; she can put on lipstick with no hands like Molly Ringwald, craves fame as hard as Tracy Turnblad, and exhibits nymphomaniac tendencies that would make Jerri Blank proud. Brand new to school, she has five days to become popular in time for her 16th birthday. Drag hijinks ensue, including an homage to the rap battle in Teen Witch. That one scene is worth a ticket. Saturday June 28, 6:45pm at the Victoria


DANGEROUS MINDS REUNION: Around the Block tells the story of an American teacher, played by Christina Ricci, who lands a job in a tough Australian neighborhood and tries to inspire her underprivileged students to care about something. If the premise sounds familiar, it's because Dangerous Minds and Sister Act II: Back in the Habit have already been there, done that. But this film still deserves a look. It has heart, a Tupac singalong, and the ability to make you cry. Bring a tissue. Tuesday June 24, 9:30pm at the Castro


SCI-FI & MEME LEGEND: Whether you know him as Star Trek's Hikaru Sulu or just from his viral social media presence (Wired called him the most important person on Facebook), George Takei is much more than that. To Be Takei takes a deeper look into what has made him who he's become, from his family's history in internment camps during World War II to the racism he experienced throughout his career to his renewed relevance. It's an awesome glimpse into the life of this activist funny man. Tuesday June 24, 6:30pm at the Castro


PANIC AT THE DISCO: Anyone who was awkward, unpopular, and took refuge in the healing, comforting distraction of music as a teen will recognize a bit of themselves in Flori, the main character of the German film, I Feel Like Disco. An overweight only child with braces, he doesn't quite fit society's or his father's expectations of him, but his mother supports him and indulges his obsession with German disco king Christian Steiffen (who plays himself in hallucinations throughout the movie). After tragedy strikes, Flori is left to figure out how to stand on his own and how to deal with mixed signals from a Romanian diver. Another bring the tissues flick. Sunday June 29, 7pm at the Castro


SOUTHERN BAPTIST REALNESS: If you've seen Precious, you know what a mighty presence Mo'Nique can be on the screen. And she doesn't disappoint in Blackbird, the story of a high school choirboy who must reconcile his sexuality with his Southern Baptist upbringing. Isaiah Washington also stars as the boy's estranged father (perhaps as a mea culpa for that whole homophobic mess over at Grey's Anatomy years ago?). Adapted from Larry Duplechan's beloved novel, this film will surely delight book worms and beyond. Sunday June 22, 6:30pm at the Castro


WHAT DO WE WANT? A TOUCHING DOCUMENTARY! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!: We all love a good courtroom drama, and the five year battle over Proposition 8 had all the makings of a blockbuster. In this pivotal benchmark in the civil rights struggle of our generation, old rivals ( Ted Olson and David Boies of Bush v. Gore fame) came together to fight a common enemy, a witness essentially said "nevermind" on the stand, the four fearless plaintiffs faced years of scrutiny and threats, and so much more. The Case Against 8 captures all the twists and turns that led to the final verdict. Spoiler alert: there are weddings at the end! Thursday June 19, 7pm at the Castro


This list is in no way comprehensive. Check out the full offerings and leave the films you're most excited about in the comments! Frameline runs from June 19 - 29, 2014 all around the city.