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    San Francisco Bay Times Is Proud to Present Seventeen and Apricot Groves at Frameline

    The San Francisco Bay Times is sponsoring two films at Frameline this year: Seventeen and Apricot Groves. We hope that you can check them out. Look for our team at the showings! They’ll be handing out copies of the paper, which will also be available in the lobby of the Castro Theatre.

    Apricot Groves

    @ the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street, SF

    Friday, June 16, at 9:30 pm

    A 2016 film from Armenia directed by Pouria Heidary Oureh, 80 minutes

    Plot summary: Older brother Vartan waits anxiously at the airport for his younger transmasculine brother, Aram, who is arriving from the United States where he has lived all his life. Aram has come to Armenia for just one day, to propose marriage to an Armenian girl he met in America. The handsome Armenian-Iranian brothers must shoulder all of the details themselves for the traditional ritual—the suits, the flowers, the cognac, the sweets—since their father is dead. The girl’s father is unenthusiastic, even suspicious, as he grips Aram’s hand in a testing handshake, one of many moments of awkward tension at the meeting. But, haunted by a past regret, he eventually approves of Aram and his daughter’s marriage. Still, the betrothed couple whispers cryptic farewells under her father’s gaze.

    There are more stops and rituals for the brothers to consummate as they hit the road between Armenia and Iran, and the film skillfully layers subtle hints among their words, looks, and deeds. Whether the ending is a wonderful surprise depends on what you know and learn about these two countries, until now unlikely settings for a beautiful LGBTQ-inflected story about family, faith, brotherhood, and love. This debut feature was written and directed by Tehran-based Pouria Heidary Oureh, and reflects the endurance and complications of consummation amidst a plethora of conservative religious expectations.

    Seventeen

    @ the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street, SF

    Saturday, June 17, at 3:45 pm

    A 2016 Austrian film in German with English subtitles directed by Monja Art, 104 minutes

    Plot summary: School is a hothouse of emotion, especially for 17-year-olds who tackle relationships as if love were a Rubik’s cube, trying new combinations, twisting, and turning until something clicks.

    Everybody wants something from Paula—whether it’s sex, love, or simply attention. Good girl Charlotte keeps eyeing her across the classroom, hormonal Ronald and nerdy Tim both try to date her, frenemy Lilli alternates between insults and flirts, and Tangler the teacher wants to enter her in a French competition. Paula makes her own tentative moves towards Charlotte, only to run up against Michael, Charlotte’s dull boyfriend. Awkward attempts to connect, missed signals, fantasies, heartbreak, and even helpless rage—this film captures adolescence in all its hormonal glory.

    Writer-director Monja Art’s debut takes a relaxed view of these goings on, her tranquil camera and beautifully composed images showing the scope of the rural environment and capturing quiet moments as well as drama: a solitary swim, domestic chores, and a late-night discussion of Wuthering Heights and marriage.

    Refreshingly, Paula’s unspoken, but obvious, preference for girls over boys is barely remarked on. When a woman teacher is assigned to chaperone Paula and Tangler to the French competition, Paula notes that the school worries about possible impropriety between her and her male teacher, but not between her and the woman teacher—and the woman teacher laughs and agrees. As this film demonstrates, whether one is gay, straight, bi, or questioning, 17 is an age best observed from the comfort of a theater seat. (Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Gary Kramer’s review of the film, also in this issue.)