Frameline, San Francisco's LGBT film festival, will open Thursday with a period drama that examines the life of Anne Lister, considered Britain's first modern lesbian.

The Diaries of Miss Anne Lister premiered on England's BBC2 in May and makes its US debut at Frameline.

The film is adapted from Lister's astonishing diaries, which were coded to conceal her lesbian affections, and set in 19th century Yorkshire, England. The complete journal spans a staggering 4 million words and took nearly a century to decipher.

Lister (played by Maxine Peake) courts Mariana Belcombe, known only as “-Zp4z-z” in her diaries. The pair share a strong bond and Lister declares her love, but Mariana shuns her by marrying an older, wealthy gentleman. Suspecting the marriage is a sham, Lister pines for her lover's return.

Lister, an industrialist and landowner, eventually moves on. She first attempts to seduce the innocent Miss Browne and later makes Ann Walker her “wife.” In between the two women, she rejects the marriage proposal of mine-owner Christopher Rawson and she's nearly exposed as a lesbian.

The lush film, directed by James Kent, is based on Helen Whitbread's groundbreaking 1992 book.

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