Alien on Stage (2020)

Alien on Stage
Director: Lucy Harvey, Danielle Kummer
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2021
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“Plot”:
An amateur theater group from a bus driving company in Dorset have set their eyes on a new project. Instead of the usual pantomime, they want to bring Alien on Stage. It’s an ambitious idea, but with the strenght of community, everything is possible.

Alien on Stage is a warm, wonderful, uplifting film and an ode to passion projects that is sure to put a smile on your face. An instant favorit.

The film poster showing a bus with spotlights on it. Below it we see a xenomorph taking a bow in front of a crowd.
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Blue Boy (2019)

Blue Boy
Director: Manuel Abramovich
Writer: Manuel Abramovich
Seen on: 9.7.2021

Content Note: homomisia

“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.

The film poster, showing the title in big, loopy letters, with two eyes, cut out from a newspaper, peeking out between the two words.

Picture a Scientist (2020)

Picture a Scientist
Director: Ian Cheney, Sharon Shattuck
Seen on: 23.6.2021

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.

The film poster showing several scientsts at work in a black drawing on beige and light blue background.
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Welcome to Chechnya (2020)

Welcome to Chechnya
Director: David France
Writer: David France, Tyler H. Walk
Part of: Transition Film Festival
Seen on: 13.6.2021

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.

The film poster showing Maxim Lapunov with his fake face in black and white, behind him a red background with faces from several other people in the documentary.
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Quebramar [Breakwater] (2019)

Quebramar
Director: Cris Lyra
Writer: Camila Gaglianone, Yakini Kalid, Lana Lopes, Raíssa Lopes, Cris Lyra, Nã Maranhão, Elis Menezes
Seen on: 24.5.2021

“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.

The film poster showing a painting of bodies in different shades of skin color. it's watercolors and so abstracted, it's almost unrecognizable. The bodies are just along the edge of the image, in the center is a blank space.

Slaying the Dragon (1988) + Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded (2011)

Slaying the Dragon
Director: Deborah Gee
Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded
Director: Elaine Kim
Seen on: 14.4.2021

“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.

The film poster of Slaying the Dragon Reloaded showing a drawn female figure holding a long reel of film that shows stills from various films, all with Asians.
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Weapon of Choice (2018)

Weapon of Choice
Director: Fritz Ofner, Eva Hausberger
Writer: Fritz Ofner
Seen on: 17.1.2021

“Plot”:
The film looks at the Austrian company Glock, the weapons it manufactures and how they quickly sold all over the world, especially in the USA, and also tries to shed some light on engineer and inventor Gaston Glock – the man behind the gun.

Weapon of Choice is a very well made documentary about Glock’s impact on the world – and that’s not necessarily a positive one, as you can imagine. But it is a lasting impact and one that still shapes many things today.

The film poster showing the title in big letters, white on red background with a black/shadowed hand grabbing for a gun.
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Coded Bias (2020)

Coded Bias
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Writer: Shalini Kantayya
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

“Plot”:
When MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini started working with facial recognition software for a class, she didn’t expect to discover that the AI is absolutely biased. She dug into the matter, uncovering more and more problems. Meanwhile facial recognition is used more all the time, for surveillance and police work, regardless of the problems that still aren’t solved.

Coded Bias takes on a very timely topic, considering the racist and also sexist bias in apparently neutral software and algorithms and its implications for police work, amont other things. It’s interesting, well-argued and so well-structured that time flies by and yet you never feel overwhelmed by the topic. It was the perfect choice of final film for the this human world Film Festival.

The film poster showing a white mask in front of a black background. Around the eyes you can see that a Black person is wearing the mask.
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Glory to the Queen (2020)

Glory to the Queen
Director: Tatia Skhirtladze, Anna Khazaradze
Writer: Ina Ivanceanu, Tatia Skhirtladze
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

“Plot”:
Nona Gaprindashvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani are all world-class Georgian chess players. Their careers changed chess forever, and all four of them are still active teaching and playing chess. But even outside of that, they became feminist icons in Georgia and beyond.

Glory to the Queen tells the story of four very different women who happened to have the same knack for chess. Combining historical footage and current images, it tries to show what their achievements in chess meant to them, to the world, to women, especially the women of Georgia. Unfortunately it isn’t always as clear in its storytelling as it should have been.

The film poster showing drawings of the four women walking over a chess board.
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La casa dell’amore [The House of Love] (2020)

La casa dell’amore
Director: Luca Ferri
Writer: Luca Ferri
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

“Plot”:
Bianca Dolce Miele is a trans sex worker in Milan. She works at home and the film shares her space and her work for a while.

I had issues with La casa dell’amore. It seems more interested in undressing Bianca and showing her at work than giving us an idea of her as a person.

The film poster showing Bianca half-naked, sitting on a whie cube, wearing nothing but a white skirt and white furry boots. A black cat's but is also in the picture in the corner.
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