Ben Whishaw in "Lilting"
Ben Whishaw in "Lilting"

We'll be offering tons of coverage of Frameline -- the world's largest and oldest LGBT film festival -- when it kicks off 11 days of cinema in San Francisco tomorrow night. But first we thought we'd highlight 10 films from the fest we've already seen and loved...

52 Tuesdays (directed by Sophie Hyde)

Winner of the best director award at Sundance (for World Cinema), this heartbreaking Australian drama follows sixteen-year-old Billie, whose path to independence is accelerated when her mother reveals plans for to transition to from female to male, and their time together becomes limited to Tuesdays. And this emotionally charged story isn't just set over a year of those Tuesdays, but it was actually filmed over the course of a year—once a week, every week, only on Tuesdays. 

Appropriate Behavior (directed by Desiree Akhavan)

Desiree Akhavan's debut feature offers up the story of a young woman (Akhavan herself) struggling to become a tall order of a trio: An ideal Persian daughter, a politically correct bisexual, and a hip, young Brooklynite.  While the film could have easily ventured into a sort of feature length version of "Girls" (if Lena Dunham was a bisexual and Persian, that is), it develops a true voice of its own in Sundance breakout Akhavan, who tackles an intersection of identity with a somehow charming mix of humor and desolation (give this woman whatever she wants for her follow-up!). 

"Appropriate Behavior"
"Appropriate Behavior"

The Dog (directed by Alison Berg and Frank Keraudren)

John Wojtowicz was turned into something of an iconic figure when Al Pacino played him in 1975's "Dog Day Afternoon." In that film, Wojtowicz took a bank hostage in the hopes of raising money for his transsexual lover's sex change operation, hardly exaggerated the actual 1972 event, but only captured one piece of a much larger story. That's why its so great we have "The Dog," Alison Berg and Frank Keraudren's documentary about Wojtowicz in the years leading up to his death from cancer in 2006. A festival circuit hit since it debuted in Toronto last year, it's definitely one to catch at Frameline if you haven't seen it yet.

The Foxy Merkins (directed by Madeleine Olnek)

Madeleine Olnek continues the absurdist tone of 2011 Sundance highlight "Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same" with the "The Foxy Merkins" -- a wacky tale of two lesbian prostitutes (Jackie Monahan and Lisa Haas, the latter of which so-wrote the film with Olnek) who work the streets of New York City. One is a down-on-her-luck newcomer to the scene; the other is a beautiful (and straight) grifter who's got things down. Their adventures are bizarre and offbeat and probably not for everyone, but they sure did work for me: We found "Merkins" to be downright hilarious.

Lilting (directed by Hong Khaou)

Ben Whishaw stars in this devastating film about a young man who, in mourning the death of his boyfriend, decides to try and build a relationship with said boyfriend's Chinese mother (a remarkable Pei-pei Cheng). Except she both doesn't speak English and didn't even (officially, at least) know that her son was gay. Continuing a trend in this year's LGBT films in dealing with ideas of finding human connection and intimacy during moments of hardship (see "Love is Strange," "The Skeleton Twins" and "Jamie Marks Is Dead" -- all of which, like "Lilting," premiered at Sundance), "Lilting" marks the extremely promising debut of UK-based director Hong Khaou, who will definitely leave your heart significantly melted with his first feature film.