Two films in this year’s Frameline film festival passionately address the issue of homophobia in sports and how athletes are encouraged to stay in the closet. One is a documentary, the other a narrative feature.
“Alone in the Game” is a slickly produced and well-made documentary that is filled with insightful interviews from LGBTQ athletes. Olympic medalist Gus Kenworthy and soccer player Robbie Rogers are just a few of the notable stars who talk candidly about the stifling culture and their decisions to come out. It screens June 23 at the Castro and airs June 28 on DirecTV
“Mario” (screening again June 23 at the Victoria), on the other hand, is not only one of the best international narrative features in the festival (it’s from Switzerland), but one of the best LGBTQ-themed films I’ve seen in 2018
Max Hubacher stars as the title character, a driven soccer player with an overly invested father and an unwavering ambition to hit the big time. Once Max becomes roommates with the confident and handsome new player Leon (Aaron Altaras), he finds himself becoming more and more attracted to his less tightly wound fellow player. Complications arise when gossip spreads about their ensuing relationship, a major concern to sponsors, agents and a few other players.
Marcel Gisler’s exquisite drama never hits a false note as it intensely and intimately captures the internal pain and external pressures that both of these young lovers experience. It’s a moving feature about being an athlete and enduring influences that encourage leading a double, hollow life in order to achieve your dreams for playing a sport you love.