Gus van Sant’s Milk Premieres in San Francisco

James Franco who plays Milk’s lover Scott Smith.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Gavin Newsom, and Focus Features CEO James Schamus, whose letter to the Hollywood Reporter I posted last night.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black

Actors Diego Luna and Emile Hirsch, who play Jack Lira and Cleve Jones, respectively.

Executive producer Michael London with producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen.

Josh Brolin and Diane Lane. A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence.

Robin Wright Penn and Sean Penn.


Gus van Sant.

Earlier in the day, I mentioned yesterday, a streetcar was dedicated to Harvey Milk on 17th street between Castro and Market. Here is an excellent report on that ceremony.

For all of Towleroad’s coverage on Harvey Milk the gay rights hero, as well as the film, click HERE.


  1. says

    I saw itlast night here in L.A. and it’s simply magnificent. Sean Penn guves the performance of hius life, all the supporting players are great and I want to adopt Emile more than ever. But over and above all that by rendering a very precise portrait of a time a place and a people this film reminds us what the gay rights movement is really aboutand why the HRC and NLGTF are a pitiful subsititute for the street activism tha GAVE US OUR FREEDOM!!!!!

    This is not “Brokeback Mountain” — thank goodness. This is about who we really are and what we MUST do to fight back. Those of us old enough to remember will be sobbing at the end. But this isn’t a tear-jerker. It’s political filmmaking at its best.

  2. Leland Frances says

    The films sounds great but David’s comment needs a little qualification. The willfully impotent HRC and mostly impotent NGLTF are certainly due his indictment. But only in their current incarnations.

    NGLTF was the first national gay organization with any influence and public profile. It was founded by hardcore, in your face, in the street when necessary activists like Frank Kameny and Bruce Voeller and Barbara Gittings, all central players in, for instance, the revolutionary removal of homosexuality as a sickness from the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual. And when the APA wouldn’t play nice they TOOK OVER their national convention and did not shut up until they were heard.

    NGLTF has tried to remain more direct action and less “preach to the choir” but in a lengthy power vacuum created by some bad management choices, and AIDS, a number of meat puppets stole the movement from NGLTF and transformed HRC, also started by a “street” veteran, Steve Endean, into the “corporation” whose primary goal is perpetuating its own existence that it is today.

    Yes, they’ve had some achievements, and have given quite a bit of money and staff to fight Prop 8. But with a $35 million a year budget they could have given a HELL of a lot more. And the more important thing is that, if Prop 8 passes (like 29 similar measures before it), it will almost entirely be because former HRC head Elisabeth Birch and her acolytes castrated the movement long ago when they stopped trying to educate the electorate while all the while the Antigay Industry continued to flood them with poisonous lies. There is NO GREATER explanation for why we even find ourselves in this holy war 30 years after Harvey’s murder and nearly 40 years after Stonewall.

    He might love the movie but he would be SCREAMING, “Why the fuck did you let things get this bad????”

  3. Andrew says

    I was there last night and honestly thought it was a pretty small turnout for such a big event. Yopu could easily get a good view of the people walking the red carpet. I am all for No on 8, but after 30 minutes of them shouting, it felt a little like they were hijacking the event. Just my own opinion.


  4. says

    OMG! I was at the premiere last night and the energy level was tremendous, it was a lot of fun to experience the event. As I stood on Castro (a few doors down from the theatre) before going into view the movie I looked up the street to see the red carpet setup and across the street all the No on 8 supporters with the bright lights from the red carpet reflecting on the No on 8 signs it gave me such a sense of joy, pride, and resolve.

    The movie was done so well and I must admit I left the movie an emotional wreck. I was 21 when Harvey Milk was assassinated and living at home in a small town in Pennsylvania trying to figure out what was wrong with me, when the news of his assignation came out I stayed in the closet another few years ignoring the truth. All that emotion came back in a flash.

    I wish I had the resolve then to do what the men and women were doing in SF at that time.

    People of California, Arizona, and Florida get out and VOTE no on Prop8, Prop102, and Prop2!

  5. says

    I too saw the film last night and have nothing but praise. I am still baffled by 1) the timing of this film 2) the embargo on reviews. Without reviewing the film let me say this about it: it is a haunting account of one man’s journey into politics that reveal an urgency about California’s own Proposition 8. What I walked away with was a sense of history—there was time, not that long ago when homosexuality was considered a mental illness, that simply going to a bar could end in a riot of prison sentence and that there were very few people publicly, politically making waves. It is astounding the amount of progress made and it seems to find culmination in gay marriage. If I was somewhat cavalier about gay marriage, after seeing Milk, I am compelled to see this proposition defeated. And that is the point of this film: if one man, one very brave, funny, theatrical and politically cunning man could make a difference, so can we. This film might have had this effect on many people were it released before the election. That said, bravo to its creators, producers and most of all to one very talented and indeed brave actor, named Sean Penn.

  6. Mr. E says

    My friend and I ate dinner at the Thai restaurant across the street from the theater and watched as all the stars walked the red carpet. It was pretty cool to see this in my neighborhood only a block from my apt. I thought the No on 8 protest was great but they kept it even after the press had left. Talk about preaching to the choir (i’m pretty sure that most people associated with the movie and those who will watch it are already going to vote no.)

    And on a side note, Andy, I understand that you need advertisement dollars to keep your site running but those fucking ads that drop down are SOOOO fucking annoying it’s making me not want to come to your site for a while.

  7. MATT says

    I was also there last night. The movie was AMAZING…truly amazing. The parallel between what was happening back then with Prop 6 (right around when I was born), and now with Prop 8, is scary. It made me angry and hopeful at the same time. The acting is superb. Sean Penn should win an Oscar for his portrayal of Harvey Milk, and Josh Brolin should be considered for supporting, as well. A lot of people involved with this film should be considered. All of them, in fact. It’s really that good. People were literally leaving the theater with tears streaming down their faces, yet the mood at the after party at SF City Hall was celebratory. Everyone was thrilled and raving about the movie. It will be controversial, sure…I hope it is. It definitely does not apologize for who Harvey was (or who we are), and I hope so SO much that it finds a mainstream audience. Go see it, and support it…

  8. says

    My partner and I watched from across the street, competing with the Cindy Sheehan supporters and the No On 8 supporters for the best view. The atmosphere was electric and the weather was vintage San Francisco.

    We managed to catch Sean Penn on video as he walked down the red carpet. We also caught glimpses of Emile Hirsch and Diane Lane.

    We are truly kicking ourselves for not getting tickets. I heard initially they were $250 a pop and then read last night they were available for as little as $50. Also they proceeds were going to LGBT youth charities. Definitely a missed opportunity.

    Can’t wait to see the film in Nov.

  9. says

    I was lucky enough to be in the Castro last night (in the balcony, near Donna Sachet and Joey Cain, and sitting next to one of the film’s still photographers, who contributed many of the photos in the “Coors Beer” sequence early in the film).

    I think they got this film abundantly right. It’s just simply the way it’s supposed to be. It has an authenticity that is actually pretty rare in films. I do not believe that they took any gross liberties with the details — I know they took some minor liberties for the sake of narrative economy, but these struck me as very small. I know first-hand that they spent a lot of energy and effort toward ensuring authenticity, and all the efforts are visible on the screen. Anne Kronenberg was quoted in the Chronicle as saying that the film absolutely nails the dynamic of the camaraderie of their group.

    It’s worth pointing out that Cleve Jones was on the set every day as a consultant. I’m sure he deserves a lot of credit for ensuring that they got even small details right (such as the fact that the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps marched behind Harvey’s car in the parade in 1978).

  10. Paul R says

    I too read that tickets were $250, which for a huge theater is a lot no matter how deserving the cause. They should have priced the tickets in tiers to allow more neighborhood folks to afford it.

    Was the theater full (including the balcony)? If not, they really overpriced the tickets. And as deserving as LGBT youth charities are, I think a portion of the money should have gone to No on Prop 8.

  11. says

    I believe the prices were tiered — the $250 tickets were in the main auditorium on the floor, while the balcony (where I sat) was cheaper. Also, the $250 included admission to the post screening party at City Hall, which I didn’t get to attend.

    Caveat: I did not pay for the tickets personally, so I could be wrong. I got to go because my boss got an invitation (he was president of the Names Project back in the late 80s/early 90s), but he couldn’t attend because of a business trip. So he sent me in his stead.

    And yes, the place was completely, utterly packed to the gills, including the balcony. I’ve never seen the balcony open before, so it was my first time there. The seats are tiny and the rows are really narrow, and my knees were jammed into the back of the seat in front of me. Luckily, I was right in front of the projection booth, so if my butt got tired, I could stand up without blocking anyone’s view.

  12. denny says

    That’s great that you saw it, David Ehrenstein, but why do you need to diss Brokeback in the process? That was heartbreaking and beautiful movie and meant as much when it came out. Everyone involved in that movie gave their all. Both movies, and I am truly looking to Milk, are valuable and have a great place in gay cinema, imo.