It that fabulous time of the year...BFI Flare 2022, in-person and on-lie.
Unfortunately, we can't be there in-person...but Flare has provided us with a mountain of films to watch and review.
This is our schedule...subject to many changes. And, we aim to watch every short film programme...you should too...they're FREE!
by Q. Allan Brocka
We're not going to review this as a web series...because, that would do it a gross injustice.
We saw this as a feature film...and, a mighty fine one it is too!
It's been 15 years since the original production...'X' is older, probably not wiser, a bit jaded and much, much more cynical... those intervening years have certainly put the grit and the wit into the writers' pens.
The returning actors are less edgier...simply because, that's what time does to people. In walks Chayce [with a 'Y', played to-the-hilt by Jason Caceres], he's soc-med savvy, preposterously peppy...and, young, full of cum-and-get-it babies. Quite the he opposite of 'X' - yet, Chayce-with-a-Y becomes his pimp[le]-in-crime on-line. As unlikely as it sounds, this young leading the old, it works. And, in so doing, toppling that old cliché: You can't teach an old dog new tricks - on its head!
Derek Magyar's stone-faced X is deadpan perfect...when his tears well-up, ours do too...it just seems to be such a heartfelt performance.
We're not going to single out any of the 'tricks' - each one has its own merit. Laugh, cry, relate, celebrate, empathise...and, realise...that some people think entirely differently from you, yourself. Now, that's what we call writing!
Kudos to Q. Allan Brocka and Matthew Rettenmund...marvellously matured, mesmerizingly entertaining, madly emotional...brought to you with...with punch, paunch and power!
Roll on the next instalment.
Charli XCX: Alone Together
by Bradley Bell & Pablo Jones-Soler
Unlike Lady Gaga, apologies...but, never heard of her! This is - obviously - written by a luddite of contemporary music.
Lady G has her Little Monsters, Charli[e] has her Angels [get it!?!]...both artists are soc-med savvy and both have a massive LGBT fanbase...and, both these ladies understand the power and profit of those Pink pounds, dollars and euros...that really is where the similarities end.
Where Lady G identifies as bisexual, Charli[e] has kept schtum concerning her sexuality...but, it would be fair to say, according to this film, she is quite some way from being a Kinsey 6!
Basically, this is one of those COVID films, made by and about herself. Mental health during lockdown is fleetingly mentioned...hey, it's always comforting to hear that a multi-millionaire can be just as miserable, cooped up in their luxury mansion...during lockdown!
Bradly & Pablo take credit for the direction, when, in fact, all they really did was compile a load of [mostly] badly-filmed footage...using scissor-and-cellotape methodology.
All-in-all, this really is a film for Charli[e]'s [millions of] Angels...no-one else. As if she needed anyone else...she's raking it in. Well done to her.
A Distant Place
by Kun-Young Park
All is not as tranquil as it seems...
One-by-one, secrets and lies, internalised and implied homophobia...all start to rear their ugly heads.
This is a slow beauty....gently, and with gentility, peeling back the layers. Park Kun-Young does not spoon-feed, working out the relationships is difficult...but, if you read the synopsis, it will help...our advice is: Don't.
Let this unravelling unravel in its own time...every question will not be answered, a happy ending is never guaranteed...but, it is an incredible and understated watch...at how love and kindness can profoundly change lives, hearts and minds.
Much is left to the imagination. Family is complex, love is complex, relationships are complex...run with these complexities, internalise them and let your imagination run free. And, by filling in the gaps, you will get the full story...in your mind's eye.
What a beautiful, mostly peaceful and complex film this is. This is life.
Death and Bowling
by Lyle Kash
Okay, here we go...Death and Bowling is undeniably experimental.
The problem with being experimental is - as is too often the case - the filmmaker is the only person who knows what's going on. And, indeed, if that is the case...then, the film really needs a mighty fine aesthetic to keep the audience engaged.
Death and Bowling has a mighty fine aesthetic...phew! The cinematography and composition are worthy of praise. And...the music is absolutely fantastic.
Here comes the tricky part...the narrative. Of course, being experimental, the narrative is never going to be straightforward. There is a story that - quite easily - could have been expanded [all the material and talent - needed - were standing in front and behind the camera]...lengthening the runtime from its measly 64 minutes - too long to be a short, too short to be a feature - an avoidable mistake that might put distributors off.
And, since this is a film about 'being seen' - the bitter irony is that after it completes its festival run, it probably won't be seen by very many people...which is a shame. Niche films are always vulnerable [and prone] to evanescence - streaming platforms have helped immeasurably in resolving this...but, when filmmakers do not use everything available to them...it's always going to be a battle...to be seen, to be heard...to be watched.
Again...more praise...to the trans visibility on show...however, it's just a little more tableau than the portmanteau it, possibly, aspired to be.
Lyle Kash has indisputable talent, it is a striking semi-feature debut. The aesthetic is art, the length problematic...the narrative, a little too contrived...perhaps, that was the point! And we missed!
Long Live My Happy Head
by Austen McCowan & Will Hewitt
If there's one film that needs to be seen...it's this one.
Of course, it's emotional. How can it not be? Of course, it's sentimental. Again...how can it not be?
Gordon, an Edinburgh lad, has an inoperable brain tumour [aka Rick]...limiting his life expectancy. His coping mechanisms are not what you'd expect. He has morphed himself into being a voice-of-reason cartoon character in comic books...along with Rick, his nemesis. And, to a certain extent, this film...
And...no, this is not some kind of gloomy video diary of a man's decline. Far from it...it is the exact opposite. This a defiant affirmation of: What does not kill me makes me stronger - of course, he has some dark days, who wouldn't!?! And then, lockdown struck!
And...this goes out to all those who posted 'I'm so bored' videos on YouTube...only the boring get bored! Gordon created...and, he spent his 40th birthday on his own...in one of the most personal and emotionally charged scenes in the film.
Loneliness is a difficult kettle-of-fish altogether...imagine if your only companion through Lockdown was Rick?!? Doesn't that put everything into perspective? If it doesn't, it should!
Ultimately, Long Live My Happy Head is about care, creativity, support...and, love. Gordon loves and is loved...he calls himself lucky. Well, it's us, the audience, we're lucky to have made you acquaintance. Thank you for letting us in...for sharing and for showing us that glint in your eye. Cheeky :)
by Broderick Fox
Two barbers and an artist...discuss hair, above, below and beyond!
Not quite sure where Devan Shimoyama fits into the grand scheme of things...but, he does have hair and he - most definitely - has something to say...and, art to show.
Jesse Anderson has recognised a few gaps in the market and is exploiting those gaps to the best of his abilities and client's delight...where else could you get a haircut, bound and packed at the same time?
And, last but by no means least...there's Richard Savvy [Dick Savvy, is that really his real name!?! Hysterical], the naked barber! You can either sit in his chair or swing in his sling...all in the name of personal grooming!
It's an entertaining and enlightening wee film about something that most of us take for granted - an non-traumatic, something for the weekend trip to the barbers.
These barbers are offering much more...a safe space. And, for that, they can only be congratulated and frequented...y'all now know where to go when your hair is in dire straits and you just happen to be in Sydney!
North by Current
by Angelo Madsen Minax
By the time all the facts are revealed and the credits roll, there are so many 'whys' - none of them are answered.
The biggest 'why' is...why would you want to trash your own family, your sister especially? Because, this is an absolute hatchet job. So much so...if Social Services were to see this, Jesse [the filmmaker's sister] will probably have her children taken from her. The evidence is all here - documented and exhibited by her sibling.
It is for this reason that no review of this film will be forthcoming. But...ethical filmmaking and the moral responsibilities of filmmakers are issues that need to be raised, be made aware of...and, adhered to.
One person's catharsis can be an other person's condemnation. Discuss.
Boulevard! A Hollywood Story
by Jeffrey Schwarz
There's a great big elephant in this room that everyone seems to ignore...in fact, there are two! Gloria Swanson couldn't sing and the songs are absolutely atrocious. But, it would seem, her star shone so brightly...no-one dared tell her...or, they were too scared to tell her!
Which makes this story all the more entertaining...but, wait for it, the fun doesn't stop there. Gloria becomes Norma, falls for a closeted gay man who has written the lyrics to the tunes written by his soon-to-be dumped boyfriend.
Yes, the ill-fated Boulevard was destined to be ill-fated from the beginning. Jeffrey Schwarz has meticulously uncovered thought-to-be lost material that could quite easily become a madcap musical comedy...today! Go on...make it!
Sunset Boulevard is deemed to be one of the best films ever made. Norma Desmond, one of the best characters created...if you haven't seen the performance...well, you are missing out on one of the campest, most theatrical performances ever to have hit the silver screen. This unearthing of what happened next just adds to the allure of the film and its star.
Stuff that cinematic legends are made from!
Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music
by T.J. Parsell
Who would have thought that behind many a great country song there stood - in the shadow - a woman, a gay woman at that!?! Well, there a quite a few in this macho, male-dominated industry...and they have many a story to tell and many more great songs to sing.
So...sit back and prepare yourself for an onslaught of emotion...and, rage - at the talent lost.
It would be unfair to single anyone out...all have incredulous stories, all have momentous songs. The highlights are frequent...the women sitting around a table having a wee impromptu jam, Linda Ronstadt being serenaded and, that harmonica!
There are stories to make your jaw drop, songs that will cause your tears to fly rather than flow...T.J. Parsell has done these women and [their] country music a massive justice...by giving them this platform and, by gosh, do they all step up to the plate!
There are two commons threads that have excluded these women from their deserved place in the limelight...men and church. It's time these twisted threads are unravelled and permanently cut...
Screw Nashville, screw Country Radio, screw the church!
Rather than being called Invisible...this film should have been called 'Invincible' - because that is exactly what all these women are...it's time to take your rightful place...in the limelight. We'll be watching and listening and crying and rejoicing.
A fantastic film.
Fragrance of the First Flower
by Angel Han Teng
As many of you may know...we are not the greatest fans of the web series genre. There have been [and will be] a few exceptions...alas, this is not one of them!
But, since it has been presented at BFI: Flare - of course, we had to watch...the 1st episode showed promise, the 2nd episode killed it stone dead - at least, for us.
Dire dialogue, an obvious man-hating agenda...followed by, a coincidence that even Nostradamus couldn't dream up. The pace is slow, the production values are pretty high for a web series...it tries, and quite possibly succeeds, in having that day-time soap aesthetic [minus the camp]...with performances and script to match.
If daytime soaps are your thing...then, this will - most definitely - be your thing...minus the camp!
Jimmy in Saigon
by Peter McDowell
All families have secrets. Most families have a pain they never want to re-visit...even for the sake of closure.
Peter McDowell needed closure...for the big brother, he barely knew. For his family.
Imagine...being drafted into the military, sent to Vietnam, tour completed, sent back home...only to return as a civilian as the war roared on. Jimmy McDowell did all that...the tragedy is, he never came back home. He died, in Saigon, aged 24...leaving behind a slew of unanswered questions...and, for his family, an undiscussed and hidden shame.
Patience, perseverance and many a platitude later, Jimmy's story starts to unfold. There were letters, addresses, photographs and suspicions to help with Peter's investigation. All he had to do was piece them all together and fill in the gaps...easier said than done! There was a war raging then and time has a way of forgetting - trips to France and Vietnam yielded little, apart from walking the same streets, staring at the same walls as his brother had...all those years ago.
After a major breakthrough, a second trip to Saigon...brings about a connection, a confirmation...and, ultimately, for that elusive closure that was so needfully sought.
An animation provides a jolt...of what could have been and, hopefully, was. The power of photographs will astound, not only for the emotions they stir up...but, for the company, comfort and companionship they offer.
Peter McDowell persisted where many would have given up...there's an aching love that runs throughout this film...hopefully, that ache has dulled a little, now that Jimmy's story has been told. This is eulogy. This is investment. This is love.
To Jimmy and Dũng...rest now.
by Emily Branham
There's much more than just a face, behind the make-up of a drag Queen...
BeBe Zahara Benet is an exception, there's much, much more behind the make-up! Sit back, Gin-ax, loosen those belt buckles...because, this ain't the ride you're going to expect!
Way back then...no-one knew that RuPaul's Drag Race would become as big as it is now. Way back then, no-one knew if there was even going to be a second series! Well...there was...and, the rest, as the say, is herstory!
You can almost hear RuPaul say: Lookie here, My girl is all grown up! The tried and tested formula that is Drag Race now...was only being tried and tested then...and, BeBe came out on top...winning $10,000, not the 100k it is today!
Just like the prize money, Drag - around the world - has grown exponentially...thanks to RuPaul. Drag, as an artform, started to be recognised. But, what happens to a Drag Queen after the show is over? Remember there were no Las Vegas shows nor spin-offs to rely on. BeBe had a title [that didn't pay the bills] and an ambition [that could, possibly, pay the bills]. Success [for BeBe] was more critical than it was financial. And, honey, criticism sure don't pay those bills!
And then came AllStars 2018...BeBe didn't win...but, it put her back on the international stage and a permanent seat on the Drag Race express. AllStars was seen, by some, as a money-making anomaly...to some...as Drag altruism!
Being BeBe glides from the past to the present, flies back and forth from the USA to Cameroon, goes from family and friends to stages and nightclubs and back again...with ease. BeBe's wit, warmth and intelligence shine through at every stage. There's no delusion, just the realism that this Drag Superstar is a giant...one whose shoulders the younger princesses will stand upon.
by Adam Kalderon
Something went slightly wrong on this swimmer's journey from page to screen.
What could have been a gritty insight into the world of elite sportsmen...isn't! This is more homo-erotic than homo-sport...look, if you are going to get to the top of your chosen sport, it's not only talent that will get you there...single-mindedness, psychological strength and a dog-eat-dog mentality are all the obligatory requirements needed. Without one, it's simply a house of cards.
Erez ain't gonna make it...it's startling clear from the moment his pre-occupation...with a certain part of his own body and certain parts of the other swimmers' bodies...starts to take over.
This is a handsome film...in more ways than one! The cinematography, music and colour palette are as vibrant as the closing scene. A fantastically stylistic scene which showed what Adam Kalderon is capable of...had he adopted more of this stylistic approach from the beginning, The Swimmer could have been less the pretty montage it is...rather than the cutthroat competition it could have been.
Still, it is very easy on the eye!
The End of Wonderland
by Laurence Turcotte-Fraser
Just let Tara get on and do it!
Whether it be sticking some kind of object into an orifice, replacing shingles, filming a [potential] cult-porn classic...or, restoring old classic cars...Tara is the woman to do it. Oh...and, she can draw!
There's no dust on Tara, she never remains still enough for any to settle...with so many projects on-the-go, she's a woman-in-demand, the most demanding being herself!
Realistically, she knows she's not getting any younger. Realistically, she's aware that her on-line porn cash-cow could be coming to an end. And, realistically, she's non-delusional about the [potential] success of her up-coming sci-fi feature, trans-porn extravaganza...or, its titanic flop!
So...her decision to end [her] wonderland was more a case of financial prudence than fanciful folly. She's a business woman who is well aware that - in the not too distant future - she will lose her USP! Make hay while the sun shines and line your pockets for your own security.
This is a portrait of Tara that Tara created. There are no lewd tales, nothing personal...which may sound a little ironic since she does expose every part of her anatomy...rather lewdly. Compartmentalise! That's her job...this is her...and, she doesn't, nor needs to, give too much away.
Eccentricity can be fun...growing up, no matter how late in life you do it...can be traumatic. As expected, Tara deals with it pragmatically...
Clutter gone, the woman remains. A fantastic [and entertaining] portrait of one of our world's 'uniques'.
This is Not Me
by Saeed Gholipour
Roll on the day, when documentaries like this one, will cease to be made...
No matter where you are in the world, transition is a process...a process that is designed to safeguard the health and well-being of the person seeking to transition. Shervin and Samar have been served misinformation regarding the process as it is in the West.
By opening the film with a rather fractious lecture, sets the tone of the film from the off. Two people, seeking transition, divided by age and maturity, unified in nationality and Iran's - not as harsh as you would expect - trans policy and procedure - which really is a bit of a Catch 22, which, unfortunately, the filmmaker decides not to explore. An avenue that would have rendered this film far more interesting than it is.
Instead, two individuals demanding to transition - asap - without any regard or respect for the due process - that's really about it...oh, one practically bankrupts their family in doing so.
Let's just say...it is not a film you would want to watch again!
Camila Comes Out Tonight
by Inés María Barrionuevo
This turns on so many pinheads...
Camila is no pushover, quite the opposite...cross her at your peril! This is neither a sexual awakening nor a coming-of-age, these kids - young adults - are all extremely mature, know what they want, know where they are going, know when they have f*&ked up!
Being a school drama, of course...there has to be the toxic bully. Here, he is more the privileged alpha male...and, has an immunity that will have you screaming at the screen! But...revenge is a dish best served cold...his comeuppance is not the expected smackdown. This is a statement...delivered with pride, power and committed defiance.
This is a beautifully composed film, the colour palette alone completes the aesthetic - but, seriously, the cinematography is art. Inés María Barrionuevo has steered her young cast through a story that never fails to surprise with its twists and turns. There are so many subdued highlights...but, Camila's conversation with her mother is a gem among gems.
A slow burner to begin with...then, when it starts to sizzle, it scorches! Damn fine filmmaking.
by Chase Joynt
When a short film becomes a feature...there is only one question that needs to be answered: Did the short deserve to be developed into a feature?
The answer here is...clearly...yes. There is an archive full of material that needs to be heard and seen. That's the positive...however, the negatives are too numerous to ignore.
Contemporary transference is a major problem...the thrusting of personal interpretations [and opinions] onto those who went before is nothing but a form of revisionism...and, revisionism has the power to mislead, misguide and misinform. Of course, trans history is important, has to be heard, has to be researched, has to be taught...but, all under that giant banner academic called...objectivity. Otherwise, it all becomes a replica of Hollywood's historical bullshit.
There is one voice-of-reason...Jules Gill-Peterson provides a scholarly commentary to the fantasist's approach that dominates the screen...perhaps, the academic aspect to the film could have been spread across a few more academics!?! One academic's 'opinion' comes perilously close to being subjective!
Look...the difficulty with this film is balance. Too much academia, there goes the audience-at-large. Too little...there goes the academics and, quite possibly, the niche audience! Everything presented ends with an 'I think' - let the audience think for themselves...by presenting the facts...without unnecessary gimmicks, the chat-show format...just bizarre.
Transference and projection are not the ways to tell these histories...by doing so, they serve a disrespect and an injustice to the person, their memory...and, to their story.
Chase Joynt has done this before with No Ordinary Man - the here-and-now is not the then-and-there...it never will be. Think ahead...how would you like your story to be told? Fantastically or factually?
Ultraviolette and the Blood-Spitters Gang
by Robin Hunzinger
The title seems to suggest something quite different to what is presented. Thoughts of a BDSM extravaganza were soon put to right after a few seconds of viewing.
Instead...a fascinating tale of two young women, for one is was a fling, for the other...the real thing! Talk about high maintenance...Marcelle is unrelenting. By today's standards, she would be charged with stalking...via incessant remittance! Trolling old-style!
And...in return, Marcelle was 'ghosted' by Emma. There's no wonder as to why!
A few wee quibbles...the narration ought to have been split between two or more voices, the contemporary music sits oddly with the visuals...and, the bikini wasn't invented until 1946!
But...there's no denying the artistry and creative processes involved in getting this story onto the screen. It is totally one-side though...Marcelle's ever-increasing desires, conquests and tragedies are laid bare...leaving behind more questions than answers...the evidence for the prosecution and in her defence are given entirely over to the audience...to make their own mind's up.
Was she a strong woman? Or, an emotional blackmailer? Or, a manipulator? Or, a lovelorn woman grasping at straws? All, one, none?
A sad tale...beautifully, creatively and artistically told.
by Eline Gehring
What a frustrating film this is!
Why? Because...it needed one thing to erase the two problems that stops it from being an absolute great film.
One extra [final] scene...it would have lengthened the measly 69 minute runtime [10 minutes of closing credits is ridiculous]...and, more importantly, delivered the sucker-punch that this film so desperately needed. It ends with a puny grunt, rather than an air-punching cheer! With this film...you really do want to cheer...all the ingredients are there, in place...it's just bamboozling how 3 writers cannot see what is so obvious...alas, it's a common problem, when short film writers make that giant leap into the world of feature length!
Sara Fazilat is fantastic...she wears her heart-of-gold on her sleeve and leaves - wherever she goes - a wake of joy behind her...that is, unless you are an impatient driver!
As a statement on xenophobia, the writers could have taken this much, much further - but, the statement it does deliver is [still] loud and clear...although, it should have been louder! Deafening even. There is no police involvement which is an odd omission by the writers...all incidents of Hate Crime have to be reported to the police - it's an obvious avenue to explore...whether they take it seriously or not.
When a director [and writers] manage to get the audience on their side, not as easy as it sounds...the difficulty is, delivering what they want...otherwise, they'll leave baying at the moon...as is the case here
Nico is a mighty fine wee film as it is...incomplete. It's like a fantastic 1000-piece jigsaw with two missing pieces!
by Elene Naveriani
What an odd way to tell a story...via human puppets!
Everything is so staged and wooden - even the walking looks acted. You can see the [obvious] blocking and hear the direction...it's as if Elene Naveriani was summoning the ghost of Fassbinder...albeit with better production values!
Without a doubt, this is an overt mocking of small-town mentality - where tradition will always trump diversity. It could have worked if the two city-types weren't so animatronic and expressionless. Apart from the bleached hair and the police uniform, there really is no differentiation between these two vastly disparate worlds.
As a statement about Georgia's troubled past, present and future...and, this could be stretching the metaphor too far...to attain the country's asap aspiration [to accede into the EU]...it desperately needs to adapt and accept the modernity that comes with membership. Geographically speaking, Georgia is vulnerable and Russia still occupies 20% of the country...it's an interesting concept, how incoming people are perceived...as invaders, allies, occupiers or guests?
Wet Sand is all secrets and lies...an old love story is pitted against a blossoming one...the old was hidden, the new is brazen...it really does scream: Out with the old, in with the new.
It is a terrifically complex film...the puppetry is problematic...but, in the film's defence, you never know who actually is pulling the strings...here, it's the director. In real life, in Georgia...it's the State versus the Church versus the Occupiers!
An interesting and odd way to tell a story!
Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor
by Shelley Thompson
If you are not trans yourself, you are stepping into an uncharted minefield, when you decide to make a film about a trans experience!
Choose your words carefully...or, you might be cancelled. Justify why you are the right person for the job...or, you will be cancelled. In recent times, many productions have been cancelled...most notably, Scarlett Johansson's Rub & Tug - and then, there was the boycotting hoo-ha that Rhys Ernst’s Adam caused - and that was made by a transman! We could cite many more examples...but, it's fair to say, the trans film genre is as fickle as a petrified, politically correct chameleon!
So...this here film is Shelley Thompson's debut feature, about a transwoman returning back to her rural home...for the first time since her transition. Aaargh! Minefield! You can almost hear the toxicity spewing forth from the PC brigade!
Is Shelley Thompson trans? No. Cancel! Boycott! But...she does have a trans son. A precarious calm descends upon the brigade...this could go either way!
Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor will - most definitely - surprise the brigade, because of what it's not. It's not a film about transitioning. There are no discussions about surgeries, hormones, hardships and all the palaver that usually comes with a trans film. This is a good old, wholesome, family drama...replete with the hateful bigot and the adorable buffoon! Hey, it's de rigeur...in every family drama - you've got to have conflict and comic relief...the brigade are wavering, teetering on the edges of their collective seating arrangement, readying themselves...to explode!
Whispers of...white, middle-class are rustling under breaths, how clean is that farm and his dungarees! The brigade are getting agitated...idealism is just not their thing...nor, are tractors!
Look...if Hallmark were to make a film about transition...this would be it. Innocuous and shamelessly sentimental...it's just a different way [and, from a different perspective] to tell a story...by an ally...and, we all need allies, whether you like tractors or not!
The First Fallen
by Rodrigo de Oliveira
There will be tears.
For some unknown reason, it is impossible to get a fairly accurate figure for global HIV/AIDS deaths - according to unaids.org, 36.3 million [27.2 million–47.8 million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
The First Fallen is the story of just three lives lost. Terrified, isolated and powerless, they each clung onto life with every fibre of their deteriorating being...they became their own doctors, their own nurses.
How many Declarations of Geneva were ignored? How many Hippocratic oaths were broken? As many, in the medical profession, refused to treat those who needed their help most...
Rodrigo de Oliveira's film doesn't shy away from the inhumanity. It's a tough, intense watch...especially for those who remember and those who lost. And...for those who helped, for those who turned their backs. Because, believe it or not, backs were turned in gay bars and clubs throughout the world.
The first to fall...think, what must have they gone through! This is a glimpse.
And...the resonance this film has today, rings out...many people have led their entire adult lives in a pandemic...36.3 million lost theirs.
Tears flow...still and always.
by Bretten Hannam
From the mighty fine short film - Wildfire - comes a fine feature.
What this film desperately needed was a script editor to highlight the few inconsistencies and improbabilities...but, when the budget is this tight, a few links - invariably - become loose in the chain. Thankfully, not loose enough to break it!
There is much to admire...the cinematography, on this kind of a budget, is beyond impressive. The score...it just needed more!
The performances are all solid...with young Avery Winters-Anthony being the only actor to reprise his role. Chemistry, between the two leads, had to be vital...and, as understated as it is...it is. The beautifully lit [and edited] sex scene is testament to good taste and unharried filmmaking.
Mi'kmaq culture could have been shown more...with a powwow, which was sign-posted and expected...but, damn budget constraints, never appeared.
But...what Wildhood really needed was the defiant stand-off that Wildfire had...it really would have been that defining moment, the point when the boy becomes his own man...cutting and tying the ties that bound and bind.
Bretten Hannam has to be congratulated and applauded for what he has done with his short film. It really is fascinating to see how 12 minutes can be developed [rather than stretched] into something more worthwhile than ample. Wildhood is a fine feature...it could have done with a bit more fire!
I am the Tigress
by Philipp Fussenegger & Dino Osmanoviç
Never judge a book by its cover...but, alas, many people do!
How are you perceived? As opposed to...how do you think you are perceived?
Tischa Thomas has no doubt how she is perceived. She is verbally assaulted on - what sounds like - a daily basis...simply because of the way she looks and how she presents herself. Although...she is not trans, she is subjected to transphobic vitriol...and, that vitriol could easily spill into violence - that is, if she wasn't a mountain of hard-won muscle. The cruelty of cowards!
Tischa Thomas' self-perception is a different story entirely...a fighter, a survivor, a grandmother, an under-appreciated doyenne. She's heterosexual, fierce and realistic...born in 1970, she has to be, every athlete has a sell-by date!
I Am the Tigress is up close and personal, nothing seems to be off limits - although, some things undoubtedly are! Even her less salubrious proclivities are hung out for all to see...obviously staged...but, entertaining in a NSFW sort of way!
Positivity and pragmatism reign supreme in this portrait...even in the face of defeat and derision. Her message is clear, don't mess with this tigress, she'll either eat you or lick you...it all depends on how you present yourself to her!
It Runs in the Family
by Victoria Linares Villegas
There's nothing quite like a bit of vicarious self-reflection...
Like all memories, they are subject to embellishment and/or deprecation as time marches on...Victoria Linares Villegas attempts to halt that deterioration, face the facts and present them as they now are...and, in doing so, she transfers herself into the story and it all becomes a bit of a vanity project.
Had the filmmaker not been distantly related to her subject...then, this is a film that would never have been made. This is a personal portrait, drawn rather sketchily with those vicarious overtones...there's too much waffle and not enough detail. Self-indulgence is never far away.
Bringing melodrama into a documentary is - quite frankly - bizarre and frustrating. “My memories of my childhood are disappearing,” states the director [and she's only in her 20s]...whoopie-do, that's what happens, memory is not infinite.
But...the drawing of parallels between herself and her [distant] relative [who died decades before she was born] is ludicrous. She has not been erased as - allegedly - her relative had been...there's a big difference between forgetting and erasure! Then [and, in many countries, still now] anti-governmental politics and homosexuality are two things that guarantee serious trouble...Oscar Torres probably fled for his life, for a better life. The director calls it familial erasure...we call it, wise flight [aka: emigration].
Less about the 'me' and more about the 'him' - may have yielded a far more interesting film.
by Jacquie Lawrence
Well...what a delight this turned out to be. Who would have thought that a documentary about a women-only, defunct bar could be this entertaining!?!
And, entertaining it is...due to Sandi Toksvig's jolly presentation and wry narration. The Gateways club may have been reduced into history...but, with a bevy of notable customers and immortalised by being featured in The Killing of Sister George...it's place in history is safe and secure.
So, what went on Behind the Green Door? [yes, that's what the song is about, seemingly]...
Maggie Hambling, with her eternal fag, makes an appearance and is hysterical...
The right height...could get you an orgasm...so says, the LGBT poet laureate!
Lesbian bars and club come and go, short-lived and forgotten...anyone remember The Candy Bar??? The Gateways will always be remembered. For over 40 years it was a haven, a sanctuary...ran by a 'couple' of matriarchs who both had a wealth of 'experiences' worth telling.
If those walls could talk, this could be a whole series. Aaaw, sadly, they can't...but, this film will certainly whet every nostalgic appetite out there.
The Sound of Scars
by Leigh Brooks
As they say...time is a great healer!
Knowing absolutely nothing about this kind of music, never even heard of Life of Agony - the name alone is a little off-putting...so, watching this is either fearless intrepidation or utter foolishness!
Well...the surprises come thick and fast. Firstly, this not about the music [phew]. Secondly, there are no massive egos floating around. This is hardcore humanity wrought from the wrong side of the track...young lads doing whatever they can to escape, to survive.
Not exactly a rags-to-riches tale, this is an emotional rollercoaster through three decades of highs and lows, friendships and feuds. How we all change in 30 years! Hopefully...for the better. Time gives all of us the opportunity to reflect, maturity affords us the ability to forgive.
From where they were...to where they are now is cast-iron proof of the indomitable human spirit. Inner happiness has been found and they are happier together than apart...
A formidable film about friendship.
by Adrian Silvestre
Feminism, sexism...egomania - not what was expected at all!
6 degrees of transition...take 6 trans women, their commonality is that they are trans and that is what they have in-common stops. With different ages, backgrounds and herstories, these women have their own voices and opinions and they are not afraid to speak out and be heard.
Part fly-on-the-wall, part docu-drama, part travelogue...Adrian Silvestre's film is an unexpected joy. It's not all plain sailing though, there are conflicts and controversies...especially between Yolanda and Cristina. But, ultimately, bonds are forged and friendships made. These similar but different walks of life come together for a brief moment in time and with differing wisdoms and rhythms, no doubt, each and all will return to their own path...possibly empowered, probably relieved...we're not so different after all.
An absolutely fascinating film that leaves its audience stronger together than apart.
The World to Come
by Mona Fastvold
Period drama on a tight budget is always going to be an uphill struggle. But, when the story is overly familiar and overtly predictable, that struggle becomes even more arduous.
Obviously, comparisons are going to be made with Ammonite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire - but, that's not where the familiarity ends, Brokeback Mountain seems to have had a rather generous influence on Jim Shephard's short story. His [and Ron Hansen's] script has been overly stretched by the director...there's too much of nothing, scenes of unnecessary domesticity simply slow the film down to a snail's pace.
What this film desperately needed was a bit more grit, spit and grime...they are poor farmers in the back of beyond...with perfect coifs and perfectly polite manners! The many anachronisms are distracting, none more so than the soundtrack...call it Jazz, call it whatever you want, it's cacophonous and out of kilter with the film's mood.
Some short stories should remain short stories, preserving the subjective power of the mind's eye. Mona Fastvold's interpretation seems to contemporise rather than authenticate.
The Law of Love
by Barbora Chalupová
The homophobic hate that is spewed throughout this film should be an urgent cause and case for concern and action...especially for the [impotent] powers of the European Union.
Newer members of the Union [i.e. Eastern Europe] have joined with absolutely no intention of following all the rules...namely the European Convention on Human Rights. This is NOT an optional membership perk. This is law. Yet, they flout it with little to no recrimination.
Each person who spewed their hate on-screen should be identified, charged and brought to trial...this hate has spread throughout Europe like a virus...freedom of movement = freedom to hate. The church has to be completely exorcised from the State...otherwise this venom will persist, spread and grow.
There are some who stand defiant for Equality...there are many who leave to find Equality elsewhere. Those who remain do so out of patriotic pride and duty...to help, to change, to improve...for themselves, for others and for the younger generations. And...they do so with dignity and intelligence...indeed, it's an uphill battle. But, if you keep on chipping away, there will be a level playing field someday, you just have to believe. Without belief...where would all we be? How ironical is that!?!
A good place to start is by dismantling those hate-fuelled religious institutions brick-by-brick...by disassociating them from the State and coercing them into facing the full might of European Law.
Respect to those who remain and for those who fight.
These are the films we've watched and reviewed...just click on the picture.
And here are the films that we would love to watch...but, not available to us. So if you want your film reviewed, send us a screener!
And...the short films we weren't able to watch...
Beirut Dreams in Colour / Kabibi / Know the Grass