Finlandia (2021)

Finlandia
Director: Horacio Alcala
Writer: Horacio Alcala, Jesús Caballero
Cast: Noé Hernández, Cuauhtli Jiménez, Andrea Guasch, Graciela Orozco, Érick Israel Consuelo, Leonardo Alonso, Raquel Menor Rodriguez
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 6.2.2022

Plot:
Delirio (Noé Hernández) is something like the matriarch of muxe in his town. She dreams of a married man she met many years ago and who now lives in Finland, yet still writes postcards to her. She makes artfully embroidered clothing together with Amaranta (Cuauhtli Jiménez) and others. The intricate, colorful designs have caught the eye of a fashion company all the way in Spain. They send Marta (Andrea Guasch) to Mexico to scope out the designs – and steal them. But Marta is unsure about her assignment, especially after she gets to know Amaranta a little better.

Finlandia is a gorgeous film that is less interested in its story than in exploring the world of the muxe. I am unsure, though, whether any of the actors actually are muxe themselves which is a pity to say the least.

The film poster showing Amaranta (Cuauhtli Jiménez) in an elaborate headdress, tears in her eyes.
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Al Berto (2017)

Al Berto
Director: Vicente Alves do Ó
Writer: Vicente Alves do Ó
Cast: Ricardo Teixeira, José Pimentão, Raquel Rocha Vieira, José Leite, Joana Almeida, João Villas-Boas, Gabriela Barros, Ana Vilela da Costa, Duarte Grilo
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 5.2.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Al Berto (Ricardo Teixeira) left Portugal some time ago, but after the Carnation Revolution, he dares to return to Sines, where he takes up residence in his family’s now empty estate and utterly commits to the Bohemian lifestyle, surrounded by artists, partying a lot and falling in love with João Maria (José Pimentão). But with or without the revolution, Portugal may not be quite ready for Al Berto’s way of doing things and resentment starts growing.

Al Berto is an interesting biopic that captures the spirit of the time, at least as I imagine it. It does get distracted a little too much by the sex and romance things, though.

The film poster showing a large close-up of Al Berto (Ricardo Teixeira). Below that we see him partying with João Maria (José Pimentão), at the beach with friends and João Maria holding Sara (Raquel Rocha Vieira) naked.
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Bilmemek [Not Knowing] (2019)

Bilmemek
Director: Leyla Yilmaz
Writer: Leyla Yilmaz
Cast: Emir Ozden, Senan Kara, Yurdaer Okur, Levent Üzümcü, Çetin Sarikartal, Ulascan Kutlu, Arda Aranat, Berke Bük, Sanem Öge, Özgür Daniel Foster
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 4.2.2022

Content Note: suicidal thoughts, (critical treatment of) homomisia, bullying

Plot:
Selma (Senan Kara) and Sinan (Yurdaer Okur) have been married for a long time, but there is a distance between them now that becomes harder and harder to bridge. Their son Umut (Emir Ozden) will soon leave for college – and who knows what will become of them then. But first they’re hoping that Umut will win a water polo scholarship and be able to go to college in the USA. When rumors abound within Umut’s team that Umut might be gay, his team mates start pressuring him, though, because he neither confrims nor denies it.

Bilmemek is a well-made film, but I did have my issues with the ending, I have to admit. Still, a lot of it was very engaging and interesting to me.

The film poster showing Umut (Eir Ozden) looking into the distance.

[SPOILERS]

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Mía y Moi [Mía and Moi] (2021)

Mía y Moi
Director: Borja de la Vega
Writer: Borja de la Vega
Cast: Bruna Cusí, Ricardo Gómez, Eneko Sagardoy, Joe Manjón
Part of: Transition Internation Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 3.2.2022

Content Note: ableism/saneism, partner abuse

Plot:
Mía (Bruna Cusí) and Moi (Ricardo Gómez) just lost their mother and meet in the remote family home to say their good-bye. Moi brings his boyfriend Biel (Eneko Sagardoy). It quickly becomes obvious that Moi is struggling beyond grief, he seems barely able to function without Biel’s help. But the three make things work, better and better step by step. But then Mía’s ex-boyfriend Mikel (Joe Manjón) shows up uninvited and throws things into disarray again.

Mía and Moi is an engaging film with really excellent performances that got a little derailed with the story for me.

The film poster showing Mía (Bruna Cusí) and Moi (Ricardo Gómez) huddled closely together,

[SPOILERS]

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Dramarama (2020)

Dramarama
Director: Jonathan Wysocki
Writer: Jonathan Wysocki
Cast: Nick Pugliese, Anna Grace Barlow, Nico Greetham, Megan Suri, Danielle Kay, Zak Henri
Part of: Transition International Queer Minorities Film Festival
Seen on: 30.1.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
It’s 1994. Gene (Nick Pugliese) has been friends with Ally (Danielle Kay), Oscar (Nico Greetham), Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) and Claire (Megan Suri) for pretty much all of high school, brought together by their love for all things dramatic, though all in different ways. Now high school is over and everyone but Gene is preparing to leave town for college. Rose has invited them all for a Victorian Murder Mystery / farewell party and Gene is dreading it a little bit as he hopes to finally come out to the group, and is very doubtful that his Christian friends will accept it easily. But when the final clue to the mystery goes missing and pizza is delivered by older, and way cooler high school drop-out JD (Zak Henri) who stirs up some resentments within the group, things become a little more dramatic than anticipated.

Dramarama is a funny and extremely sweet film that doesn’t work like your usual coming out film – and I loved that. As I loved the entire film.

The film poster showing Oscar (Nico Greetham) dressed up as Sherlock Holmes, Claire (Megan Suri) dressed up as Alice, Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) dressed up as Miss Havisham, Ally (Danielle Kay) dressed up as Mina Harker and Gene (Nick Pugliese) dressed up as Doctor Jekyll.
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Morgen ist auch noch ein Tag, wenn du willst [Postcards from Sicily] (2020)

Morgen ist auch noch ein Tag, wenn du willst [literally: Tomorrow is another day, if you want]
Director: David Gräber
Writer: Andreas Neu
Cast: Hannah Zieziula, Christina Völz, Bo Anderl
Part of: Transition Queer Filmfestival
Seen on: 11.7.2021

Plot:
Claudia (Hannah Zieziula) and Marcus (Bo Anderl) have been dating for a while, but their relationship isn’t at its best anymore. Marcus feels that Claudia is distant, so he seeks to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Jana (Christina Völz). What he doesn’t know is that Claudia is distant because she, too, met Jana and fell in love with her – and vice versa. Marcus, living out of his van, takes turn staying with the two women, but he can’t stop them both from turning away from him.

Postcards from Sicily didn’t work for me. I found it very tiring and couldn’t get into the story or the characters.

The film poster showing Marcus' van from above. Marcus (Bo Anderl) is lying on the roof, smoking, while Claudia (Hannah Zieziula) and Jana (Christina Völz) are standing in the open doors looking up at the sky.
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Kapana (2020)

Kapana
Director: Philippe Talavera
Writer: Senga Brockerhoff, Mikiros Garoes
Cast: Adriano Visagie, Simon Hanga, Mikiros Garoes, Dawie Engelbrecht, Foreversun Haiduwah, Albertina Hainane, Felicity Celento, Elize de Wee, Jeremiah Jeremiah, Lukas Paulus
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 11.7.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
George (Adriano Visagie) and Simeon (Simon Hanga) meet in a bar. They flirt, they have sex. They don’t really expect more, especially not in Namibia where homosexuality is criminalized. But then they run into each other again when George comes to buy Kapana for his lunch break, and finds that Simeon is the one who is selling it. Simeon panics, he isn’t out to anyone in his life, but George finds a way and they start dating. Only, George has a secret, and this could threaten to end things between them before they ever really started.

Kapana is a very sweet film that tries to deal with a lot of stuff in its short runtime, but also keeps its emotional side in sight. I really liked it.

The film poster showing Simeon (Simon Hanga) selling Kapana, grilled meat.
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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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Sheer Qorma (2020)

Sheer Qorma
Director: Faraz Ansari
Writer: Faraz Ansari
Cast: Shabana Azmi, Swara Bhaskar, Divya Dutta, Jitin Gulati, Priya Malik, Kalyanee Mulay
Part of: Transition Film Festival
Seen on: 10.6.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) queermisia

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.

The film poster showing Saira (Divya Dutta) and Ammi (Shabana Azmi) hugging.

The Story of the Stone (2018)

The Story of the Stone
Director: Starr Wu
Writer: Starr Wu
Based on: Cao Xueqin‘s novel Dream of the Red Chamber
Cast: Aric Chen, Etsen Chen, J.R. Chien, Golden Elephant, Adam Lin, Sky Qing Tian Li, Daniel Thai, Joe Liu, Stephen Rong, Dean Tang, Lear Chen, Ryan Hsieh
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 21.11.2020

Content Note: suicide, fat hate

Plot:
The Stone Bar is the gay bar in Taipei, and its newest waiter is Josh. Josh (Golden Elephant) is pretty and fresh, so he has his pick of men, but he would like to win florist Lin’s (Aric Chen) heart. Only Lin is still reeling from losing his last boyfriend to Aids and really can’t fathom having a new relationship. In his frustration, Josh turns to Sean (J.R. Chien) who is more than happy to have him. But amidst promiscuity and drugs, drama is pre-programmed.

The Story of the Stone did not work for me at all. I tried very hard to get into the film, but it was completely confusing and about halfway through I just gave up following anything that happened on screen.

The film poster showing Josh (Golden Elephant) standing half-naked in a bar filled with half-naked men. Everything is bathed in pink light.
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