S.F. Int’l Gay Film Festival sets program

SAN FRANCISCO — Featuring a heavy concentration of U.S. indie features as well as a special tribute to Britain’s Channel Four Television, the S.F. Intl. Lesbian & Gay Film Festival announced its 21st annual program Tuesday. Over 266 works from 23 countries will be featured at S.F.’s Castro, Victoria and Roxie theaters during the June 20-29 event.

Executive director Michael Lumpkin noted the proliferation this year of debut features by helmers previously repped here by shorts — suggesting the continued hale health of lesbian/gay cinema worldwide.

The official opening selection is Brian Sloan’s U.S. screwball comedy “I Think I Do,” starring Alexis Arquette, Lauren Velez and Guillermo Diaz. Richard Spences’ Brit sex-change romance “Different for Girls” closes the fete on the 29th and tops a particular ’97 emphasis on transgender-issue titles.

World preems in addition to “I Think I Do” include Roland Tec’s seriocomedy “All the Rage” and Heidi Arnesen’s dating roundelay “Some Prefer Cake,” both U.S. indies.

Other notable programs include four retrospective sidebars. The fest’s annual Frameline Award for “outstanding contributions to lesbian and gay media arts” goes to Channel Four, which during the last decade has produced or co-funded several significant gay-interest TV series (“Out on Tuesday,” “Tales of the City”) as well as some of the most notable Brit gay-themed feature exports (“My Beautiful Laundrette,” “Maurice,” “Beautiful Thing,” etc.). Twelve new or lesser-known Ch. 4 productions will unspool during the fest.

Another overview is provided by “Yang & Yin: Gender in Hong Kong Cinema,” a series of six features spotlighting the often adventurous use of sex-role “blur” in recent H.K. actioners, dramas and comedies. In conjunction with the Goethe-Institut’s ongoing citywide celebration of early gay activist Magnus Hirschfield’s pioneering efforts 100 years ago, the fest will also show several German gay-themed features, from 1919’s “Different from the Others” to the new farce “Killer Condom.”

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