Good ‘Grief’ nabs prize at Lesbian-Gay Fest

The last notes proved sweetest for the 17th San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Intl. Film Festival, as world-preemed American indie pic “Grief”– its post-production completed just a day before screening — arrived to snag both the official closing-night slot Saturday and Audience Favorite Award for best feature.

Now touted as “the largest lesbian and gay arts event in the world,” the 117 -program, seven-venue 10-day fest posted startling growth: Attendance was up 30% , with 51,797 customers vs. last year’s 38,870.

Receipts totaled more than $ 197,000 (including $ 120,000 advance sales), up from $ 158,482 in 1992. This puts the fete near break-even point on receipts alone, as production costs (assisted by grants, biz sponsors and donations) hover near $ 240,000.

All this points toward yet more expansion in the future for producing org Frameline’s annual event.

A first-time programming week at San Jose’s 330-seater Towne 3 Theatre performed well, scoring sellouts with the Dutch drama “For a Lost Soldier” and Brit doc on Sandra Bernhard “Confessions of a Pretty Lady.”

The duo also SRO’d at S.F.’s 1,550-seat Castro Theatre, along with seven additional programs including Canadian drama “Being at Home With Claude,” German “Prince in Hell,” and opening nighters “Forbidden Love” and “Mala Noche,” the “surprise sneak preview” of John Greyson’s “Zero Patience,””Grief” and a “first annual” Gay Men’s Erotic Safe Sex Video Awards presentation.

The other major S.F. venue, the Roxie Cinema, easily maxxed out 30 of 36 programs; particularly hot tickets were shows of women’s short subjects. Two first-time Frisco houses chalking up sellouts were the AMC Kabuki (with one showing of Goldwyn’s Taiwan pickup “The Wedding Banquet” and S.F. Art Institute (two programs of experimental shorts).

Weeklong free docu screenings at the Eye Gallery drew 1,000-plus patrons. Six days at Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive attracted 1,645, up from 1992’s 1,190.

Notables among some 200 filmmakers and other guests included “Young Soul Rebels” director Issac Julien (who brought his new short “The Attendant”) ; novelist Alice Walker and poet/essayist June Jordan (on hand to fete Brit director Pratibha Parmar on receipt of her 1993 Frameline Award); and “Mala Noche”/”Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” helmer Gus Van Sant, still operating production offices in S.F., despite his departure as director from Oliver Stone’s planned “Mayor of Castro Street” feature.

In addition to Richard Glatzer’s “Grief,” other audience favorites announced after ballot tally were:

Shorts –“Deaf Heaven” (U.S., directed by Steve Levitt) and “Intrepidissima” (Spain, Marta Balletbo-Coll).

Feature docu –“One Nation Under God” (U.S., Teodoro Maniaci/Franchine Rzeznick).

Short docu –“Chicks in White Satin” (U.S. Elaine Holliman).

Video –“Homoteens” (U.S., Joan Jubela).

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