“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.
Plot: After more than a decade of living abroad, Saira (Divya Dutta) has returned to India to finally introduce their wife Sitara (Swara Bhaskar) to their mother (Shabana Azmi). The separation of Saira and their mother was long because she didn’t handle their queerness very well. But after their brother Shahnawaz’ (Jitin Gulati) intervention, Saira is hoping that this time, things will be different. But things don’t go particularly well at the Eid dinner.
Sheer Qorma is a beautiful film that puts the finger where it hurts, showing just how painful it is to not be accepted as the person you are, especially within your own family. But then the film also gives us the release of experiencing the family coming together, soothing and healing. It’s perfectly set in scene with lots of clever touches – like the very beginning of the film or the (translated! I don’t think I ever saw subtitles for it before) call of the muezzin – and a spot-on cast. I shed a tear or five. What a wonderful way to start the Transition Film Festival.
“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: A girl (Juno Temple) and a man (Brian Geraghty) are making their way through the desert. They are looking for shelter, while some men in a car (Lukas Haas, Lee Thompson Young, Joel David Moore) are looking for them.
I saw that Juno Temple was in Bastard and decided to watch it, so I was a little surprised by the Christianity of it. Your mileage will probably vary regarding that. I felt that the film was a bit sensationalistic. But Juno Temple is still wonderful.
Plot: Sarah (Angélique Bridoux) is a wheelchair user and lives with her parents (Nathalie Cuenet, Vincent Chaumont). She is 20 years old and would like to explore her sexuality, but her options are limited, though not for a lack of trying on Sarah’s part. She is particularly interested in BDSM. When her mother hires a new cleaner and assistant, Victoria (Naëlle Dariya), Sarah finally finds somebody in her who can help her.
Je fais où tu me dis is a film that sets out to not just subvert but utterly obliterate the image of disabled people as asexual, as our society so often likes to think of them. And it does so with its tongue firmly in its cheek and a great protagonist (with a wonderful performance by Bridoux, who is actually disabled herself). I really have no complaints – I enjoyed this immensely.
Plot: Devin (Derrick L. Middleton) is dating Jasmine (Chivonne Michelle) but he realizes more and more that he is drawn to his best friend Tyrone (Calvin M. Thompson). This attraction makes him question everything.
Ying and Yang is a short film set to a spoken word poem. The poem is beautiful (although I didn’t love the use of Yin and Yang to represent men and women in a piece that question the binarity of gender and sexual orientation) and was wonderfully spoken (I’m not sure who spoke it – Rogers himself, maybe?). I felt like the film couldn’t quite keep up with the poem, but it was well done nevertheless, capturing Devin’s confusion and insecurity very nicely. It is certainly worth watching.
Plot: Somebody makes his way from somewhere in Africa towards the sea, towards a better future – or at least that’s what they hope.
L’automne is an impressive short film that tells the story, or stories, of making the long hard trek towards refuge without really showing any people. It shows the way rather than the people making it and develops its very own atmosphere that certainly leaves an impression. It also has some really excellent shots, despite obviously being very limited in its technology. Really good.
Plot: The Gladwells – mother Lena (Chandra Wilson), father Curtis (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and their daughters Cara (Brandi Nicole Payne) and Crystal (Danièle Watts) – are living a normal life. Until Crystal suddenly disappears, and her family has to struggle to get even a shred of attention from the media and the police.
Muted carries quite a punch. Tackling racism, it makes not only a plain, strong and effective statement about the horrific state of things, it also lets you feel the emotional weight of that truth, especially thanks to Chandra Wilson and her performance. It’s a film that doesn’t let go of you easily and will probably make you shed a tear or two (I certainly did). Utterly recommended.