Spotlight on homegrown docs and narratives
FRAMELINE This year's Bay Area-centric Frameline features run a thematic and identification gamut appropriate to the festival's ever-inclusive programming. Several are celebrations of local LGBT heroines and heroines, some recently deceased and some still-with-us.
Scott Gracheff's With You commemorates the life and legacy of late local resident Mark Bingham, who famously died on United Airlines Flight 93 and is strongly suspected of being among the passengers who stormed the cockpit and prevented that hijacked Newark-to-SFO flight from reaching its presumed governmental target in Washington, D.C., on 9/11.
As his activist mother Alice Hoagland and everyone else here says, it's the sort of thing he would do — Bingham was, among other things, an avid rugby player, metalhead, daredevil, UC Berkeley frat president, world-class partier, several-time arrestee (for reckless hijinks rather than criminal menace), bear chaser, global traveler, dot-com-wave surfer, and "human labrador retriever" (as a long-term boyfriend calls him). He lived a very full life and doubtlessly would have continued living it to the limit if this encounter with terrorism hadn't cut his time short at 31.
A life that remained eventful for nearly three times that length was that of Del Martin, who along with surviving partner Phyllis Lyon founded SF's Daughters of Bilitis — the nation's first lesbian political and social organization — in the highly conservative climate of 1955. They remained highly active in feminist, gay, senior, and other progressive causes over the decades. Martin's death in 2008 at age 87 occasioned a tribute in the City Hall rotunda that is captured by veteran local filmmaker Debra Chasnoff's Celebrating the Life of Del Martin. This hour-long document demonstrates the breadth of Martin's influence as prominent politicians, musicians, authors, progressive and religious leaders, et al. pay homage.
How exactly to honor our dead is the question at the heart of Andy Abrahams Wilson's very polished The Grove, which charts the creation of the National AIDS Memorial Grove — an idea brought to fruition by the surviving partner of local landscape gardener Stephen Marcus — as well as some struggles over its visibility (even most visitors to Golden Gate Park don't seem to know it's there) and purpose.
When a recent contest was held for an installation to be added to the site, two women designers won with a striking sculptural concept intended to make a potent statement à la D.C.'s Vietnam Veterans Memorial about the disease's devastation. But the grove's current board shot it down, preferring to maintain the space's leafy, meditative feel — even if that might also maintain its relative public invisibility. Should the memorial comfort those who directly suffered loss, or metaphorically convey that loss in vivid terms for future generations?
Very much living with HIV — emphasis on the living part — is the subject of Dain Percifield's Running in Heels: The Glendon "Anna Conda" Hyde Story. Glendon Hyde a.k.a. Anna Conda fled a horrific Bible Belt background to become one of SF's premier drag personalities, running the Cinch's popular Friday night Charlie Horse revue for five years until a new condo's complaining tenants shut that down. Enraged by the city's "war on fun," hostility toward the homeless, and other issues to boot, he joined 13 other candidates running for District 6 (Tenderloin) supervisor last year. He didn't win, but this doc will make you hope he tries again.