Frameline47: Playland

In the Combat Zone, what was once Boston’s red light district populated by porno theatres and sex workers, the Playland Cafe was a queer bar that survived six decades. With a compelling ensemble of queer performers including The Lady Bunny, Danielle Cooper (Pose), and Aidan Dick (When Men Were Men, Frameline46), Playland condenses time and queer experience into a single evening populated by a half century’s worth of the bar’s inhabitants, and all the multitudes they bring with them.

Rather than a traditional narrative tribute, the film brings to life the bar’s glory with a series of decadently shot vignettes blended with archival audio and footage, resulting in a film of uncompromised audacity and vision. Feature debut director Georden West (Exorcisms and Other Supplications, Frameline Fangs 2021) takes us on a journey through the past century of queer expression, delivering a fantasia of lived-in sights and sounds. As the number of queer bar closures continues to increase across the country, Playland* becomes an enigmatic, abstract requiem for what we lose when we don’t have these spaces.

Special guests: director Georden West and actor Aidan Dick

*Preceded by the screening of “Under the Influence“, a 20-minute short film about a trio of friends’ retreat to a luxurious and isolated home in the middle of the woods for a weekend of hallucinogens and pool-lounging (dir. by Ricardo Branco, Portugal, 2022).

Presented as part of Frameline47 International Film Festival.

1h 32m
Georden West
United States
English & German
First Showing
June 22, 2023