“Plot”: Abramovich interviewed male sex workers in Blue Boy bar in Berlin, then showed them their statements and filmed them while they watched it. The film shows them reacting to their own statements.
Blue Boy chose an interesting format to capture its subjects, opening up the gulf between talking a good game and then listening to yourself talk. The statements they give are as different as their reactions to themselves – from embarrassment to careful neutrality that can’t quite cover the fact that they are having a very emotional reaction, but don’t want to share what it is. While their statements give us an insight into their work life – from chatting up clients to police harrassment -, their reactions give us a look at who they are as people. A careful balance that Abramovich captures impressively.
Content Note: sexualized violence, sexual harrassment
“Plot”: As in many other fields, women are marginalized in academia as well. Picture a Scientist shows us what that marginalization looks like, especially regarding sexual harrassment, and how it affects women in science.
As I work in gender equality at a university, Picture a Scientist is a must-see film for me. And I’d say, if you’re interested in academia/science at all, it’s also a must-see for you, though depending on how much you know about universities and gender equality, you might not learn that much that is new.
Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, including explicit homomisic violence, torture and rape; attempted suicide
“Plot”: Starting in 2017, Chechnya saw a sudden and widespread outbreak of homomisic violence that was denied by officials. The Russian LGBT+ Network, especially David Isteev and Olga Baranova, started helping queer people escape Chechnya and Russia altogether. But as long as nobody came forward, no officials seemed willing to investigate the situation, or even acknowledge that anything was going on.
Welcome to Chechnya is an important documentary, but it is definitely not an easy watch. Still, it should be seen.
“Plot”: A group of young lesbians go to spend some time at the beach and to celebrate the New Year.
Quebramar doesn’t so much tell a story than show a slice of queer utopia – but in a realistic way. In the casual intimacy between these women, their openness and vulnerability with each other and the sense of community they share, the troubles they do talk about seem far away. They have carved out a space for themselves. It’s a good space – and they are willing to share it with the audience. So, relax and take half an hour to enjoy their company.
“Plot”: Slaying the Dragon looks at how stereotypes about Asians, especially Asian women, shaped their portrayal in Hollywood movies and vice versa. Trying to outline the major tropes, female and male actors are interviewed and films examined. 23 years later, Slaying the Dragon updates that documentary and looks at how films have – and have not – changed in the meantime.
Both documentaries are insightful, making clear statements about representation and how movies affect the world beyond the screen as well. They’re an excellent primer to recognize problematic characterizations and offer a succinct explanation of why they’re problematic.
“Plot”: Activist Carole Roussopoulos and actress Delphine Seyrig worked together in the 70s and 80s as the collective Les insoumuses, together with translator Ioana Wieder. They shot several videos on feminist issues, most notably SCUM Manifesto. The documentary brings together their activism and filmmaking with archive footage of themselves and their work.
Delphine et Carole, insoumuses is a very nice documentary that underscores how much we are still/again fighting the same fights, even 50 years later.
Nothing Like a Dame is a fun round of tea with a fabulous foursome of women. You’ll probably get most out of it if you really know British actors of the 50s and 60s, but even if you don’t, it’s a charming to have tea with these women.