Salir del ropero [So My Grandma’s a Lesbian] (2019)

Salir del ropero
Director: Ángeles Reiné
Writer: Ángeles Reiné
Cast: Rosa Maria Sardà, Verónica Forqué, Ingrid García Jonsson, David Verdaguer, Candela Peña, Mónica López, Pol Monen, Alex O’Dogherty, Leander Vyvey, Liz Lobato, Maria Caballero
Seen on: 5.2.2021

Content Note: ableism, (critical treatment of) homomisia

Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) is just about to get married to Stuart (Leander Vyvey) who comes from a very rich and very conservative family. So when Eva hears that her grandmother Sofia (Verónica Forqué) wants to get married to her best friend Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà), Eva sees her wedding and her happiness threatened. She decides to return to Lanzarote and to talk some sense into her grandmother, keep her from getting married and thus causing an uproar and saving her union with Stuart. That’s easier said than done, though.

Salir del ropero is okay. It leans a little too hard on some of its comedic aspects, and puts the focus on Eva instead of Sofia and Celia, but it does have sweet moments.

The film poster showing Sofia (Verónica Forqué) and her granddaughter Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) on one side, and Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà) and her son Jorge (David Verdaguer) on the other. Eva and Jorge seem to be pushing them apart.
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Moffie (2019)

Director: Oliver Hermanus
Writer: Oliver Hermanus, Jack Sidey
Based on: Andre Carl van der Merwe‘s autobiographical novel
Cast: Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan de Villiers, Matthew Vey, Stefan Vermaak, Wynand Ferreira, Rikus Terblanche, Ludwig Baxter, Hendrik Nieuwoudt, Nicholas Van Jaarsveldt, Hilton Pelser
Seen on: 26.1.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, abuse / hazing, racism

It’s 1981 and Sout Africa is at war with Angola. Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) is about to start his two-year compulsory military service. He and the other recruits quickly fall into a rhythm of physical and psychological punishment and abuse – in other words, military training. Nicholas finds a friend in Sachs (Matthew Vey) whose political views make the service extra hard for him. But it is to Stassen (Ryan de Villiers) that Nicholas feels inexorably drawn. His feelings are returned, but nobody can know – the rampant homomisia in the army is everywhere and the punishment for getting caught is very harsh.

Much like its title promises – the South African version of f***ot – Moffie is a brutal film that shows us a brutal world and sugarcoating none of it. It is very good at what it does, but you have to steel yourself for it.

The film poster showing Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) in military uniform, looking straight at the camera.
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Sommerkrieg [Summer War] (2019)

Director: Moritz Schulz
Writer: Moritz Schulz, Tetiana Trofusha
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 11.12.2020

Content Note: fascism, abuse

Jasmin and Jastrip are both looking forward to summer camp. Only their summer camp is a very special one: Azovez camp is organized by a nationalistic militita group that has been instrumental for Ukraine’s fight against Russia. And the camp is there to raise the next generation of patriots and soldiers.

Sommerkrieg gave me chills. It not only wonders why children would want to go to a war camp with military drills, it’s also a matter of fact depiction of right-wing extremists brainwashing children.

The film poster showing Jasmin and Jastrip in military style shorts and yellow shirts, cradling wooden machine guns.
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In My Blood It Runs (2019)

In My Blood It Runs
Director: Maya Newell
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 10.12.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Dujuan lives with his mother and his siblings in Alice Springs. His grandmother tells him that he has inherited is grandfather’s healing power. It’s important to her that Dujuan gets to know his Aboriginal heritage and learns to speak Arrernte. For Dujuan, too, it is important: he is never more at home than when he returns to the traditional lands. But unfortunately, Dujuan also has to attend a state school where he is always an outsider.

In My Blood It Runs is a wonderful portrait of an extra-ordinary boy who has his work cut out for himself. Between poverty and prevalent racism, he finds strength in family and tradition, underscoring the importance of communities for BIPOC everywhere.

The film poster showing Dujuan crouching in the desert.
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Once Upon a Boy (2019)

Once Upon a Boy
Director: Uri Levi
Writer: Ayala Bengad, Uri Levi
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 8.12.2020

Content Note: ableism

Ron lives with his family – mother, father, two brothers, one of them his twin – in Israel. His life is shaped by the fact that he has cerebral palsy, meaning that he is becoming less mobile at a steady pace, slowly graduating from crutches to a wheelchair. When his mother hears of a doctor in the USA who performs an operation that could restore some mobility and slow down the effect of the condition, she is dead set on getting Ron this treatment.

Once Upon a Boy shows an entire family trying to navigate life with a disabled family member and the difficulties that means. At times the film skirts a little too close to inspiration porn territory and some things may have deserved a little more critical interrogation, but it absolutely captures the parents’ struggle with the situation.

The film poster showing Ron's parents on a park bench, and himself in a wheelchair in front of that bench.
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The Marriage Project (2019)

The Marriage Project
Director: Atieh Attarzadeh Firozabad, Hesam Eslami
Writer: Atieh Attarzadeh Firozabad, Hesam Eslami
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 8.12.2020

Content Note: ableism/saneism

Tehran psychiatric hospital has both women’s and a men’s ward, but the men and women live mostly separate lives. One of the doctors would like to make it possible for a few of them to get married, to fulfill their romantic and sexual needs. But his plans are met with a lot of doubt by the other staff, and a lot of excitement by the patients.

The Marriage Project was a hard watch for me. It was so full with paternalistic condecension for the patients, I was cringing my way through the film. In the moments I could look past this, there were some very touching moments, but overall I just don’t think the film realized how harsh things were for the patients it showed.

The film poster showing a man and a woman lying on top of a bed each, separated by a couple of meters between them.
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Sunless Shadows (2019)

Sunless Shadows
Director: Mehrdad Oskouei
Writer: Mehrdad Oskouei
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 5.12.2020

Content Note: domestic violence, abuse

Two prisons in Iran. One is a juvenile detention center for girls who murdered their husbands, fathers, or other male family members. The other houses some of their mothers and sometimes sisters who were a part or instigators of the murders.

Sunless Shadows looks at incarcerated girls and women in Iran, wondering about a society that leaves murder as the only option out of abuse and how families are tangled up in love despite and because of everything.

The film poster showing one of the incarcerated girls looking out the door of their cell.
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On Outer Space, Love and Resistance – Short Films

On Outer Space, Love and Resistance was one of the short film programs at the this human world Film Festival.
Seen on: 4.12.2020

Content Note: sexualized violence/rape

The four short films are very different in tone and style, but all of them are special indeed. I’ll be thinking about them all for a while yet.

More about each of the films after the jump.

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The Garden Left Behind (2019)

The Garden Left Behind
Director: Flavio Alves
Writer: Flavio Alves, John Rotondo
Cast: Carlie Guevara, Miriam Cruz, Anthony Abdo, Alex Kruz, Tamara M. Williams, Ivana Black, Michael Madsen, Edward Asner
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 21.11.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisogyny; murder of a trans woman; stalking; mention of suicide (in the review)

Tina (Carlie Guevara) lives with her grandmother Eliana (Miriam Cruz) in a small apartment. They are both undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Tina works as a driver and all the money she makes there that she can spare goes into her transition fund. She is waiting for her therapist (Edward Asner) to clear her for transition, and hopes she will have the necessary funds together by then. But even apart from transition, being a trans woman in New York isn’t easy. Her boyfriend Jason (Alex Kruz) seems uncomfortable with her transition, the guy in the corner store (Anthony Abdo) keeps eyeing her weirdly, and danger is always lurking.

The Garden Left Behind is an insightful look at the many struggles trans people have to face in the USA, including the unrelenting violence against them. It is with said violence that the film stumbles a little, but the effectiveness of the ending and the entire film still stands.

The film poster showing a close-up of Tina (Carlie Guevara).


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Comets (2019)

Director: Tamar Shavgulidze
Writer: Tamar Shavgulidze
Cast: Nino Kasradze, Ketevan Gegeshidze, Nina Mazodier, Mariam Iremashvili, Ekaterine Kalatozishvili
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 20.11.2020

Nana (Ketevan Gegeshidze) enjoys a summer day with her daughter Irina (Ekaterine Kalatozishvili). When Irina goes to the shop, Nana is suprised by the visit of another Irina (Nino Kasradze): this Irina she hasn’t seen in decades, but when they were teenagers, Nana (Mariam Iremashvili) and Irina (Nina Mazodier) spent all their time together, carefully in love until Irina had to leave the country. The two women get to talking, reflecting on their youth and their lives since.

Comets has a way of catapulting you right into the feeling of a languid summer’s day that lends itself beautifully to reminisce about young, lost love. But for the last part of the film, it inexplicably changed pace by taking us to a SciFi movie-within-the-movie that I didn’t really know what to do with. Nevertheless, it’s a beauty of a film.

Adult Nana (Ketevan Gegeshidze) and Irina (Nino Kasradze) looking at each other.
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