Friday, June 21, 2013

But I'm A Cheerleader (1999)

WHO: Jamie Babbit directed this.

WHAT: I have not seen But I'm A Cheerleader and am not really interested in reading review of it before seeing it, but I can't help but notice that critical notices are decidedly mixed. Yet I've been aware of the film and its cult following for years. I was probably sold on seeing it by the clips from it used in Kirby Dick's This Film Is Not Yet Rated documentary, in which director Babbit is interviewed about the hetero-normative hypocrisy institutionalized at the MPAA, the Hollywood ratings board that does so much to determine the financial fate of independent films.

I understand the film is a comedy that satirizes the ex-gay movement. What better time to see it than this week, after the big announcements made by Alan Chambers of the soon-to-be-defunct Exodus International

WHERE/WHEN: Today only at the Castro Theatre at 11:00 AM, presented by Frameline

WHY: I don't generally attend a lot of films screened at the Frameline festival each year, but I try to sample at least a couple programs. For many reasons I'm particularly attracted to retrospective programs, which the festival has a long and rather illustrious history of presenting. For one, these are films that didn't just impress festival programmers and press in the heat of the moment, but have stood the test of time with audiences and (if there's a new print involved in the presentation) archivists. For someone wary of plunking down hard-earned cash for a film that sounds intriguing but is ultimately an unknown quantity, the risk-to-reward ratio of attending a retrospective screening is very favorable. 

Past years have given me chances to see (off the top of my head) Lizzie Borden's Born In Flames, a selection of Canyon Cinema-distributed experimental films by filmmakers like George Kuchar, James Broughton, Coni Beeson, etc., and a showing of the 1958 version of Mädchen in Uniform introduced by film historian and maker Jenni Olson (whose last feature was the first I reviewed on this blog eight years ago, and whose next is currently in crowd-funding mode).

The last two years have offered particularly memorable experiences: seeing a landmark film from the 1990s that I'd never seen before, in a Castro Theatre filled with other newbies but outnumbered by longtime fans, able to see a 35mm print of a favorite and ask questions of the director in person; two years ago it was Jennie Livingston showing Paris Is Burning and last year it was Alex Sichel and her Riot grrrl-era romance All Over Me. Today's screening has a lot to live up to match those, but with But I'm A Cheerleader's producer Andrea Sperling (who has also produced multiple films by Greg Araki and Jon Moritsugu) and its director Jamie Babbit expected to be on hand, it just might. Both women are expected to return to the Castro tomorrow as well (joined by screenwriter Guinevere Turner ) for Babbit's presentation of the annual Frameline Award, and a screening of their newest film Breaking The Girls. 

HOW: But I'm A Cheerleader is expected to screen in 35mm, and be preceded by a 35mm short made by Babbit (and Sperling) in 1998 called Sleeping Beauties.

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