Freelancers Anonymous: The New Queer Movie for Everybody
Freelancers Anonymous will be released November 16 and as I have already seen a screener of it, I can tell you why you need to pre-order the movie now. I love the fact that the movie revolves around female freelancers like me and that some characters are simply brilliant. At ClexaCon London, I have briefly talked to Natasha Negovanlis about the movie. She plays Gayle and is happy to share with you why she thinks you will enjoy this movie. Read my blog post or watch the video below the image.
Freelancers Anonymous is about me
Being a freelancer myself, I love seeing that part of my life in a movie. Freelancers Anonymous shows how hard it can be to start something. It does not show how hard it can be to keep your company (about 70% of companies founded stop after only four years!) but you definitely gain insight into all the work it takes.
The movie also shows how it really takes a community to make it happen for you. Everybody adds a piece. Finally, it shows how you need to convince everybody that you have a solid product or service every single day.
Freelancers Anonymous is mostly created by women
Freelancers Anonymous is written by two women (Lisa Cordileone and Amy Dellagiarino), directed by a woman (Sonia Sebastián), produced mainly by women, and all the main characters are played by women. That is rather fresh in today’s entertainment industry.
In fact, Freelancers Anonymous made it to ReFrame’s list as a gender-balanced production. ReFrame is a coalition of industry leaders founded by Women in Film and the Sundance Institute that launched a data initiative in an effort to recognize and promote gender-balanced films and television shows.
It collaborates with IMDBPro and relies on IMDBPro’s data to analyze films and television series to see how many women were involved in the production and how much screen time female characters had. To earn the ReFrame Stamp, a film or TV show must meet some requirements that call for women in key roles like starring, directing, producing, and writing. Additional points are given for having racial diversity.
I admire this movie for having such a female energy!
Freelancers Anonymous has Gayle
For me, the highlight of this movie was seeing Gayle’s second freelance job that she needs in order to support her first freelance job. I do not want to give away what it is but I can only imagine how hard Natasha Negovanlis had to laugh when she first read the lines that she would eventually have to say out loud.
Freelancers Anonymous has queer characters but…
Freelancers Anonymous has queer characters but does not make a big deal out of it. Billie and Gayle are shown in the final few months before their wedding and that is all you need to know about that relationship. Yes, obviously, their wedding plays a big part in the story but not how it has historically been done. It focuses on how they prepare for it rather than on the queer part of it. Because no deal is being made of it and the movie shows the things we all encounter in our wedding planning phase and in our struggles at the office, it is a movie for everybody.
Freelancers Anonymous has Larry
Do I need to highlight one of the few male characters in the movie? Yes. Who is Larry? What does Larry do? What does Larry add? Those are all legitimate questions. I do not have the answers for you. That is precisely why I need to mention him. I love random stuff like that in a movie!
What are you going to do this weekend? My guess is watching Freelancers Anonymous! On the Freelancers Anonymous website, you can pre-order the movie now or order the movie starting from November 16. Would you please share this post with every queer person you know? Representation matters and the more we know what movies are out there for us, the better!
Lesbian web series tip!Different for Girls is a rather new UK lesbian web series. It has crazy talented actors, like Rachel Shelley and Victoria Broom. I cannot wait for another season!
Indiegogo campaign tip!Short film The Date is now looking for funding. It is the story of two women looking for love in the dating world of the 21st century and aims to offer positive lesbian representation in the media. With what I have seen of it so far, I can say that it looks promising!
This weekend, the creators of Different for Girls will visit ClexaCon London. It was quite weird to me that I had never heard of this UK lesbian web series before, especially since Rachel Shelley is in it, who is my favorite The L Word actor. They were kind enough to send me a screener of the show so that I could properly prepare for ClexaCon London. I liked it so much that I thought I would share it here with you. I cannot be the only one who missed this show, can I?
Different for Girls started with a book
Different for Girls first was a book written by Jacquie Lawrence. You can find it on Amazon. It is funny; if you read the reviews, the reviewers often say that they want to see the book adapted to the screen or turned into a web series. Well, Jacquie Lawrence did just that.
According to Lesbian Box Office, which is a channel dedicated to programming lesbian and bisexual women’s content set up by Jacquie and Fizz Milton, Jacquie realized that there had not been a lesbian-specific drama on British television since 2010 (Lip Service). Jacquie and Fizz understood that the only way to watch a drama with lesbian content was to make it themselves. And so, the 2015 book turned into this three-part web series in 2017.
The show starts in an incredibly confusing way. In the first fifteen minutes, you will see some fight, love, drug use, and vomiting scenes rapidly succeeding each other. In these scenes, you will meet every character on the show. To be clear, there are quite a few characters on the show. The Amazon reviewers are right when they said they needed some time to figure out who was who and who was dating whom.
Still, you immediately know that this something you want to get into. You want to know the answers to who is who and what is happening. There is much information to process but the rest of the show will slowly make it clear to you. Also, rewatching the first fifteen minutes after watching the entire series is helpful.
An underrepresented age category
I am so very, very happy that this show revolves around women my age. If you want to know, I am in my thirties. I usually have to watch teens or people in their twenties when I want to watch a lesbian-themed show. That is fun but at the same time, it seems like the moment I got married and had a kid, I gave up on an exciting life. Apparently, content creators do not think we can handle adventures after we had our thirtieth birthday or wedding day.
Different for Girls shows women who are about to get married or have kids or who have young kids already. This web series aims to “represent lesbians who live in the suburbs, who are more likely to meet their future partners at the school gates than at a club in Soho,” as Jacquie said. That does not mean you will not see any drinks, drugs or sex…
That being said, I do feel sad that when you finally see two married women, the story centers around cheating and being cheated on. Where are our adventures? Still, I understand that the other storylines revolve mostly around relationships too, so it is not like they saved that for the married women.
Also, I sometimes felt moments of the storylines were a little far-fetched. I now understand why some would call Different for Girls a soap opera. So much is happening in such a short amount of time. I noticed that I did feel inclined to ask myself the questions of would I or would I not? How would I respond in these situations? That means I was still emotionally involved, so that proves the quality of this web series and the incredibly talented actors.
More to come?
The story leaves a few openings for another season of Different for Girls. I honestly would like to see the second season of this web series. Who knows, I might be able to find out more at ClexaCon London. You can watch Different for Girls on Lesbian Box Office, where you can rent or buy it. I hope can show you some ClexaCon Different for Girls footage on my YouTube channel in a few weeks, so make sure to subscribe!
Last Friday, I was invited by IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam) to visit their Mash-Up evening with Kunsthal Rotterdam, which is a museum of contemporary art. They had a pre-premiere screening of Lukas Dhont’s Girl and after that, we had the opportunity to visit the Action-Reaction exhibition and enjoy some music. In this blog post, I will briefly describe this new transgender movie. I do not want to give away too much because I highly recommend it and I just want you to see it for yourself. Below the image, you can find a video of me visiting the Mash-Up evening and discussing the movie. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you have not already!
Girl is the astonishing feature-film debut of Flemish filmmaker Lukas Dhont. The movie tells the story of Lara, a 15-year-old girl, is born in the body of a boy and wants to become a ballerina. She is working really hard on her dancing and takes extra classes for this. At the same time, she also starts her hormone therapy. You can already tell this is going to be a massive challenge.
The leading role is played by Victor Polster, whose impressive performance was awarded the Un Certain Regard Prize for Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival. Girl took home more awards from Cannes 2018. The film also won the FIPRESCI Prize, the Caméra d’Or, and the Queer Palm for best LGBT film.
The idea for Girl
In an interview with Screen Daily, which you should read in full, Lukas Dhont said that he was just 18 years old and still in the closet with his own homosexuality when he got the idea for Girl. He read a newspaper article about a girl in Belgium who had been born in a boy’s body but wanted to become a ballerina. “This story struck me so much. This 15-year-old has the courage not only to say, ‘I was born in the wrong body,’ but also to strive for this high form of femininity, to be a ballerina. She was a hero. I was 18 and up until that point, I had hidden a big point of myself. I said, ‘If I make a feature, I want it to be about this!’”
Girl is intense
I am glad Lukas did. What an intense movie Girl is. The entire time I felt Lara’s pain. Her pain is both emotional and physical. I mean, ballet dancing is painful and transitioning is painful; there is just so much pressure and tension 24/7. I was also constantly on guard for her, watching everybody closely to see how they would react to her. Already after twenty minutes, I was ready to find a relief. It made me wonder how Lara would find it. They sure know how to convey those feelings! Lara does find her relief in the end but is it really relief? Let’s just day the entire room of people gasped… Go watch it!
Today, I can finally talk about Anne+. I have been anticipating this new Dutch lesbian web series for a long time now. Last Sunday, it premiered at the Dutch Film Festival (Nederlands Film Festival, NFF). I also watched all six episodes that day, so I can tell you all about them. In this blog post and video, you will see spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum but I need some things to explain how I feel about the show.
Before watching this web series, I knew that every episode would center around Anne and one of her relationships. After watching it, I like how it shows that you can learn a lot about yourself through your relationships. Anne+ starts when Anne goes to college in Amsterdam and after six episodes and five relationships, she graduates and begins adult life. The episodes of about ten minutes each take you on this journey.
At this moment, no subtitles are available in their videos but on their Instagram page, they do often write in English. So, make sure to follow their Instagram and keep an eye out for a version with subtitles! Under my Instagram post, they did say they are working on their international release. The first two episodes can be found on their website; there will be a new episode every week.
We get to know Anne, who is sitting next to moving boxes in her new house in Amsterdam. She needs to run some errands but then she sees her ex, Lily, with her new girlfriend. You know, precisely the moment when you do not look your best.
This is how we enter the flashbacks to the relationship of Anne and Lily. They fall for each other in high school, go to college together in Amsterdam, and are completely in love. Yet, slowly but gradually, they grow apart until they reach their breaking point.
We go back to Anne in her living room. After the encounter, Lily texts to see if they can meet up for coffee anytime soon and they agree to meet up this Sunday.
This is the introduction. Now I’m wondering: will they get back together again or is the next episode completely different and at a later time? After all, you know that every episode focuses on a different relationship but how will the series approach that?
Episode 2: Anne+ Janna
We still see that Anne is surrounded by moving boxes. That means little time has passed. Her two best friends help her unpack. Anne tells them that she saw Lily. Her friend first thought Anne was talking about Janna, another ex.
That is how we move to the second story. Anne needs excitement after the tame part at the end of her previous relationship with Lily. She finds that in Janna, who offers her parties and drugs. However, Anne doesn’t feel at home in Janna’s world. At the end of their fling, Anne is dumped for “living in a bubble.”
This was simply no match and you notice that Anne feels hurt but that she quickly recovered with the help of her friends.
Episode 3: Anne+ Sophie
In the third episode, we see Anne on the couch going through Tinder. Oh no, she sees Sophie’s profile. She was madly in love with her but the feeling wasn’t mutual.
I really liked the flirting scene. That’s when you see that awkwardness and exploring in the beginning for the first time.
Anne indicates that she thought she was quite a strong woman but that Sophie made her realize she wasn’t really. This episode offers us a twist: it goes from “what I want” to “oh no, the other person doesn’t want to so what do I do now?” This is a moment of growth for Anne, which allows you to establish a more in-depth connection to her.
Episode 4: Anne+ Esther
The episode starts with Anne on the phone. She needs a reference for an application: “Oh no, I need Esther for that.”
That leads to a flashback to the time she was an intern. As she casually says: sex with the boss, that’s really hot. She has no feelings at all; for her, it is just about sex. That is different from what we have seen so far. As a result, I think the series becomes funny as well.
Then, it turns out in (an embarrassing way!) that her boss does have feelings for her. Here, you see that she is in control again. Clearly, she is no longer upset over Sophie and you notice that she has become more mature.
Episode 5: Anne+ Sara
Sara calls when Anne is hanging a photo of Frida Kahlo. We notice that they have not seen each other for a long time. Sara is in Argentina. Anne thinks Sara super good looking and you see that she is very impressed again now. The balance is off and she immediately has a lower position.
In their flashback, Sara just doesn’t feel very lesbian. She just likes Anne, she says. Anne does value her lesbian identity much, which you have noticed all season. She doesn’t fully realize Sara’s struggles because she is just so in love. Sara is still really discovering her sexual orientation. That leads to a painful moment in public with a “F*ck off, dyke.” Then, there is one of those painful cry breakups in which you don’t want to let the other person go.
This was clearly a painful moment for Anne, right when she has just graduated and wants to start adult life. In fact, that means her student life starts and ends with a meaningful relationship that ends.
Episode 6: Anne
We now focus solely on Anne. We start the day. It’s Sunday. Anne is very busy with “real life.” The entire season, we have seen her brushing her teeth with her girlfriends but now, she is looking at herself in the mirror all alone. She also has breakfast by herself, standing at a table. She seems to be aimless.
Her parents come for a visit. They have that conversation about that life isn’t going as Anne wants and that she doesn’t know what she wants. This episode, it is also the time for the coffee date with Lily. The conversation remains uncomfortable and on the surface, while old feelings definitely play back and forth.
After watching Anne+
I liked the fact that her whole student life is shown from beginning to end and that it ends with big questions like ‘What am I supposed to do with my life now?’
After the six episodes, you know that you have gotten to know her through her loves and friendships and that she has also gotten to know herself like that. Occasionally, she is hurt and at other times, she experiences something beautiful. Now that she is all by herself, she wonders who she is without a girlfriend. She has often learned about herself through the other person.
This is how you end up with at a beautiful, well-rounded story with an opening for more stories and more seasons. I’m curious. If there will be more episodes, I want to watch them for sure. Will they add more toothbrushing?
I am really excited about this week’s blog post and video. For the past few months, when talking about queer representation in media, I have mostly addressed shows and movies from the US and Canada (and Brazil, hey RED 😊). This week, I finally get to talk about productions from my own country, the Netherlands. The Nederlands Film Festival (NFF – Dutch Film Festival, the link leads to English program) has sent me a list of LGBTQIA productions that will be shown at NFF 2018, which is held September 27 to October 5. I will discuss my favorite ones in this blog post and in the video below this image. Most of these have English subtitles so you can enjoy them too!
From that impressive list, I have picked the movies that I would want to watch myself as a visitor to the festival after watching the trailers and reading their synopsis. That means not every LGBT production available at the NFF will be described in this blog post and the video below.
I have contacted the production companies of the movies that I have picked for a preview and so I am able to give you my opinion about those and help you decide which ones you want to see. One production, which I have been anticipating for a long time now, was not able to give me a preview but their material will be available this Sunday. That means I will be able to dedicate a single blog post and video to Anne+ next week.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Taxi Stories
Feature film, 101 minutes
I first want to talk about Taxi Stories. Before watching this movie, I was the least fascinated by this production because I did not know how it could be interesting. I knew there would be three stories in one movie, all revolving around a taxi ride. I knew class differences would be highlighted and that there would be some LGBT elements. Nevertheless, this movie was the biggest surprise for me.
The movie takes place in three different Asian cities: Beijing, Hong Kong, and Jakarta. I am immediately drawn to the colors and the people. I want to know the backstories of the main characters and I am constantly wondering where the stories are going. At some moments, I feel disgusted and at other moments, I feel intrigued. The cultural differences are interesting and the scenery is beautiful. There were much more LGBT elements than I expected too.
Let me tell you, though, this movie does not make us people look good! We are a pretty disappointing bunch. Yes, you will definitely have feelings after watching this movie.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Mother’s Balls
Short documentary, 48 minutes
You need to know about ballroom dancing before watching Mother’s Balls. If this is your first introduction, your questions are left unanswered for a long time, which distracts from the real story. The real story is Amber’s efforts to have The Netherlands and Belgium get to know ballroom dancing. She puts so much time, effort, money, and love into it. The ballroom scene also means being a family and that really comes to the forefront.
I could really relate to the ending, where Amber starts talking about her family. She does not want to cry but she does. You just feel for her. As a kid, you simply want to be loved by your parents. It is amazing to see how she finds that family love in her ballroom family and gives that feeling back to others. I am happy they did not just show the confident performer Amber. If they had not shown vulnerable Amber, I would never think the ballroom scene would be something I could possibly belong to; this part makes the ballroom scene look more accessible and relatable.
The documentary has beautiful close-ups and nice breaks from the colorful, loud scene to small dances, like the one with a white background and a man in black dancing and moving merely with his hands. Those 48 minutes flew by.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Otherland
Short documentary, 13 minutes
Otherland offers a small peek into the life of one of the men who has joined House of Vineyard. Elvin grew up in Saint Martin. As a gay man, he felt he was suffocating on the island. Elvin discovered ballroom through a friend. They practiced it in the dark “because if we had been caught, we would have been killed.”
His story ends when he arrives in Rotterdam. Up to that point, we see him dancing in contests (where Amber is present), we see him all by himself, and we see him together with his mom. Most of this is shown in slow motion so you can really listen to his story and still get a glimpse of his dancing.
This documentary offers many close-ups and artistically shot poses and dance moves to support the story. I really want to hear what happened after he arrived in Rotterdam, how he felt, and how he ended up with the House of Vineyard. So, the documentary drew me in; I felt it.
NFF shows Otherland before Mother’s Balls but I prefer watching the movies the other way around. Still, I get why they have chosen to put a short film before a longer film.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Dòst (One Night Stand XIII)
TV drama, 41 minutes
I really liked Dòst. The setting of this movie felt really familiar to me. I grew up in a village in the countryside and this movie focuses on two teenage boys working together on the land, cutting asparagus. It is all very relatable, how awkward the guys and girls are with their first kiss. I sometimes even felt embarrassed for them.
Things change halfway the movie. You have come on a journey with the main character but now, you start to dislike him. You feel bad for him but you feel bad for the other character ten times more. The peer pressure in this group of guys is real.
After watching the movie, I really wondered how the story continued and what happened to the two characters, apart from each other but also together. It pulls you in, thanks to the beautiful close-ups and the perfectly cast actors.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Stille Dorst
Short film, 22 minutes
Stille Dorst highlights the moment Tarik rents a holiday home from Jonas to process his divorce. This short film offers few lines and many moments of silences. As a result, you are really focused on what Tarik is seeing and you are constantly wondering what he is thinking. His inner struggles are clearly visible, which is powerful. However, even though the movie is only twenty-two minutes long, it still feels long to me. I think it feels this way because it focuses on details so much and offers so many silent moments. One moment I like in particular is when the two main characters go outside to find some peace and quiet. You can clearly hear the sounds of nature, which almost made me feel zen at home.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Wognum
Short documentary, 54 minutes
Wognum took me by surprise. This short documentary is very special because you see two completely different worlds and only one main character. Matthijs is forty-two years old and still frequents the rave world. In the first few minutes, you feel his loneliness, which is painful. At big, crowded parties, he does not seem to connect with anyone. You learn that he has a boyfriend but at home, things are not going great. It seems as if he has money that he feels that people use him for that. He has a big collection of model trains in the attic, with which he plays. He invites others to play with them as well. You can tell this is where he feels safe.
Then, you discover another side of Matthijs. You wonder what a man like him is doing in a piano store but when he starts playing, you know why. It is lovely to watch him play. The ending is very emotional and heartwarming. It is beautiful to see when a person is finally recognized for one’s talents. It obviously has not happened a lot to him.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Vlam
Short film, 16 minutes
Vlam is a very short production of only sixteen minutes but you see quite a lot. This short film revolves around a camping trip with two friends, who meet three French guys. The first thing you notice is the colors of this movie. There are a lot of neon colors and bright pink, which make the story a bit absurd. Since they smoke weed at a certain point, you are almost looking at everything in a haze.
The story is very relatable too. I am sure you can remember the jealousy when someone you liked made out with someone else right in front of you. You can probably also remember some stupid things you did after that.
Also, the ending left me wondering what happened next. I really wanted this short film to last longer!
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Yulia & Juliet
Short film, 11 minutes
Yulia & Juliet is a brilliant short film. Yulia and Juliet are in love with each other but they are in a juvenile detention center. We know TV shows with lesbian relationships in institutions: Orange is the new black and Wentworth. Now we have Yulia & Juliet too. You can truly feel the sense of confinement. They speak to each other through the ventilation system, they whistle to let the other person know they are there, and they find short moments together. This movie knows how to use the main elements of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in a very short amount of time and it is great to see this version of the classic.
LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018: Dante vs. Mohammed Ali
Short film, 28 minutes
Dante vs. Mohammed Ali is an absurd and entertaining short film. Most of the time, you are wondering what the setting is. The way Wolf talks (and he calls himself Dante) makes you wonder whether you are watching a movie set in medieval times; or, is it a play turned into a movie? But then the clothes remind me of the 80s/90s. Also, where in the world is everyone so occupied with a weekly boxing match on a boat? In a way, this movie raises a lot of questions that it never answers. You do not really mind though. What you are here for is the love story and yes, that guides you through all the weirdness.
Bonus LGBTQIA movie to watch at NFF 2018: Niemand in de Stad
That said, if you are okay with that and you want to look for (straight) beauty elsewhere in the movie, Niemand in de stad is a good choice. The movie has likable actors, it has its funny moments (I mean, the beginning nearly had me vomiting while still making me laugh), and it makes you go on a journey with the main character. You do not always like him or his actions but you do understand how he is trying to figure everything out growing up. Plus, I always love seeing Amsterdam frat boys make themselves look like idiots. :p Consequently, despite the lack of positive queer representation, I am happy I watched this movie so I still want to add it to my list.
Other LGBTQIA movies to watch at NFF 2018
Other LGBT movies that you can watch are At Midnight Plays a Dance-Tune, Error of Eros, and A Double Life.
Brianna Hildebrand Discusses Coming Out at a Young Age
At Love Fan Fest 2018, Brianna Hildebrand discusses coming out at a young age. The moderator asks her what it was like for her, after which she describes her process. I thought it was interesting to show you because it was quite a journey. You can choose to watch the video below this image or read the story. Hopefully, her story will offer you support or recognition.
Brianna Hildebrand discusses coming out as bisexual
“I guess I did come out in sophomore year in high school.” For us living outside of the US, that’s around age 15-16. “Initially, I came out as bisexual. ‘This is me, living my life’ [audience laughs]. I came out, actually, online. Social media for life! I came out on Twitter. ‘What’s up, high school! I am bisexual, you know.’ [audience laughs]
Honestly, I hadn’t told my family or anyone else, aside from, you know, my friends. Then, my dad logged in on my Twitter because he was overprotective or something. And then, he saw the tweet. And I think my dad personally didn’t hold any grudges against me. He feels a certain way about it. He’s generally open and loving.”
Brianna Hildebrand discusses coming out to her family
“But he is the son of a Baptist preacher and his sister is a minister, so I had a lot of backlash from them after that. And it was really awkward and weird. [laughs]. It’s fine now though. We made up a couple of years ago, so it’s all good. But yeah, it was a hard situation. Especially with the family. Family stuff, that stuff’s hard to navigate. To just have someone related to you disapprove of who you are. That really blows.
But, you know, I got through it. And honestly, I felt so much better, even with my family disapproving who I decide to love or whatever. Just being myself. I felt like I was hiding myself before that.”
Brianna Hildebrand discusses coming out as a lesbian
“A couple of years later after sophomore year, I came out again. I was like ‘Hey, I’m a lesbian, I think, actually.’ [audience laughs]. Which is, I don’t know. I spent so much time being like ‘What am I? Am I a lesbian? Am I bisexual? Who do I like? What’s happening with me?’ I think I focused on that so much that I stopped paying attention to what I was actually feeling for people around me and how I felt about myself.
Brianna now does not subscribe to any labels
So, at this point, I don’t subscribe to any labels. I do have a girlfriend; she’s over there but like… [audience turns to her and starts cheering, she laughs]. But yeah, I guess that’s pretty much it, the journey.
I hope Brianna’s story does something for you in jour own journey. After her panel, I was able to talk to her for a few minutes. You can find the blog here and the vlog below. Please remember to subscribe to my channel if you want more queer content. As I am just starting out, I could really use your support!
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