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    Six LGBTQ Films Available in March

    By Gary M. Kramer–

    There are a half dozen features and documentaries with local and/or queer content being released this month. Here is a rundown of what to watch in Bay Area theaters, on VOD and streaming services, as well as on DVD.

    Newly available on DVD is Gay USA, a celebration of queer history, featuring a handful of shorts—including Freedom Day Parade (1974), by director Wakefield Poole, about San Francisco’s Gay Pride March—and the seminal titular documentary directed by Arthur Bressan, Jr. Chronicling gay pride parades held on June 26, 1977, in San Francisco, New York, San Diego, and Chicago, Gay USA (Bressan’s film) offers a snapshot of attitudes and experiences of lesbians and gays, straight allies, drag queens, and homophobes. Bressan conducts a series of on-the-street interviews conducted by various camera crews that, in some cases, involve the interviewers asking, “Are you gay?”—a question that generates a number of interesting responses. Some interviewees recount the empowerment they feel being out, while others describe the harassment they have encountered as a result of being identified as gay. It is a fascinating film and Bressan assembles a cross-section of humanity, featuring men and women, old and young, gay and straight, from various religious and racial backgrounds. The result makes queer lives visible.

    Silver Haze

    Borrowed, now available on DVD, is a two-hander, based on a stage play, about David (Jonathan Del Arco), who invites Justin (Héctor Medina of Viva) to model for him at his house in the Florida Keys. Their initial conversation is flirtatious, but as David paints and dines with his guest, Justin feels uncomfortable and tries to leave. David, however, wants him to spend the night—and he locks him in, and handcuffs him to ensure this will happen. Borrowed shifts gears here as David feeds, dances with, and bathes Justin, who may be experiencing a kind of Stockholm Syndrome for his captor. As each man tells stories about their past, they bond—but is it real? The actors are best during the scenes where the characters’ motives are ambiguous, and Héctor Medina is captivating telling stories about his sexual experiences from his youth. 

    Carol Doda
    Photo by Marlo McKenzie

    Silver Haze, on VOD March 12, is a gritty and grim drama from Britain about Franky (Vicky Knight) who still has unresolved trauma issues fifteen years after an incident where she was burned in a fire. At her job as a nurse, she meets Florence (Esme Creed-Miles), a mercurial young woman who winks at her one day. They soon begin a passionate affair that prompts Franky to move out of her family home and in with Florence, who lives with Alice (Angela Bruce) and Jack (Archie Brigden). But tensions between Franky and Florence boil over, leading to a reckless act of violence. Franky is a raw ball of anger and watching Knight’s emotional performance—which alternates between seething and being soothed—is what makes Silver Haze so arresting.

    Carol Doda Topless at the Condor

    Frida, streaming on Amazon starting March 14, uses painter Frida Kahlo’s letters, writings, and illustrated diaries to provide a documentary portrait of the artist. While photographs, her artwork, archival footage, and animation are used to illustrate her life and career, the only examination of Kahlo’s bisexuality is a remark that her philandering husband Diego Rivera “approved of her relationships with women.” The film explores the inspiration for her work and recounts her numerous health difficulties. Alas, there is too little made of Kahlo’s thoughts on gender and sexuality—she dressed “like a man” as a rebellious youth and she felt that her career was hampered because she was a woman. As such, Frida feels like an unfinished sketch. But at least the images are great.


    Carol Doda Topless at the Condor, in area theaters March 22, is an affectionate and nostalgic look at the San Francisco performer who, back in 1964, was the “Star of North Beach.” She danced at the historic strip club the Condor, making headlines—and heads turn—as she performed topless on a piano that dropped from the ceiling. Her acts grew in popularity, in part, because she “grew”—getting silicone injected into her breasts to augment them. As film clips and footage show, Doda was very witty and self-possessed, empowered in the pre-women’s liberation era. Still, she struggled to earn money, and when she worked in venues other than the Condor. This eye-opening (wink, wink) documentary also briefly includes footage of out gay designer Rudi Gernreich, who designed “The Monokini,” a topless bathing suit that Doda danced in. (Gernriech was also an activist and early member of the Mattachine Society.)


    Carnal Sins, out on DVD March 26,by writer/director Juan Sebastián Torales,is a compelling story about Nino (Nicolás Díaz), a gay teen who is first seen kissing a boy and next seen being bullied and beaten up. His parents take him to live in the countryside where he is forced to attend a church youth group. But the quiet Nino is more interested in the Almamula, a “monster” that has reportedly disappeared young boys, like Maria’s (Luisa Lucía Paz) grandson Panchito. And Nino tries to summon Almamula by having impure thoughts—one with a male friend of his sister’s, and another about Jesus. While the film addresses issues of sexuality and sin, a pair of scenes between Nino and Malevo (Beto Frágo), a handyman, throb with erotic tension. Carnal Sins shifts between fantasy and reality as Nino determines how he can live in the world he is in. Torales’ film is a bit elusive, but it exacts a hypnotic pull on viewers.

    Carnal Sins
    Gay USA

    © 2024 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” He teaches Short Attention Span Cinema at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and is the moderator for Cinema Salon, a weekly film discussion group. Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer

    Published on March 7, 2024