The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

Additional Screening! Back by Popular Demand

Director: Jennifer Kroot | editor/co-director Bill Weber
2017 | USA | 91m
GENRE: Activism | Aging/Elders | AIDS/HIV | Arts & Literature | Biography/History | Gay | Local Interest/Subjects
SECTION: Documentary | Opening Night

If San Francisco were a symphony, Armistead Maupin would be its consummate maestro. Over four decades, through nine installments of Tales of the City, Maupin has deftly conjured the enchantment of the "City by the Bay," starting with the first book's overture featuring wide-eyed ingénues, lovesick gay romantics, closeted elites and free-wheeling marijuana-growing landladies. Originally serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle, Maupin's cherished tales are not just novels; they are, in effect, archives of San Francisco history.

Maupin notes that all of the characters in Tales of the City are autobiographical "in one way or another," and the documentary makes this amply clear: riveting interviews with the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, and the author himself show Maupin to be as endearing, funny, and vulnerable as his popular protagonists. He's just as bold as them too, whether divulging the delicious details of a fling with Hollywood hunk Rock Hudson or taking a controversial stance on the "outing" of LGBTQ celebrities. Maupin is a multifaceted trailblazer - one who is a descendant of the Old South, once worked for conservative politician Jesse Helms, and spent most of his twenties a virgin. But then, Maupin was awakened by San Francisco, finding his "logical family" among its colorful denizens.  Director Jennifer Kroot and editor/co-director Bill Weber, whose previous collaboration, To Be Takei, was the Frameline38 Centerpiece Documentary selection, reunite in crafting a joyously giddy love letter. Brimming with the same effortless charm that made their earlier film a crowd favorite, Untold will remind audiences of what, and whom, there is to love in San Francisco - just as Maupin has been doing all along.

-CURRAN NAULT  

This film is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund grant.