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!
What lesbian movies can you watch at the 2018 Roze Filmdagen (Amsterdam LGBTQ Film Festival)?
March 8th to March 18th, you can visit the 21st edition of the Roze Filmdagen, which means the Pink Film Days, or the Amsterdam LGBTQ Film Festival. It has so many great movies that I almost want to urge you to go every day. I completely understand it if you cannot clear your schedule for all 125 movies, so I have listed the top lesbian movies you should go and watch. The organization of the 2018 Roze Filmdagen has allowed me to watch some previews, so I can tell you what I thought of them. You can find the program here, which has info in Dutch and in English.
2018 Roze Filmdagen Tip 1: Days of Mercy
I have been waiting a while for this movie starring Ellen Page and Kate Mara. Now, we can finally watch it here in The Netherlands. I wish I had been able to watch a preview for you, but alas.
With her father on death row, Lucy has been a passionate campaigner against the death penalty for years. Every weekend she and her siblings travel to a protest outside a jail. And every week they are met by death penalty supporters. Then, one day, one of ‘those people’, a young woman named Mercy, starts chatting her up.
Tip 2: Becks
On Twitter, Myron Floyd told me about this movie when I had just published my blog post about IFFR. It made me very curious, so I would like to see this one. Again, I was not able to watch a preview for you, so I cannot tell you if I am as excited about it as Myron is.
Betrayed by her girlfriend, aspiring singer/songwriter Becks returns to small-town America and her ultra-religious mother. After some self-pitying couch potato time, she ventures out into the world again, with some scandalous affairs waiting to happen. Tony Award winner Lena Hall shines in this warm, sexy and fun tale of a love life going bad in all the good ways.
2018 Roze Filmdagen Tip 3: Seventeen
Oh, this movie is so cute! It has been a while since I was in high school but I do remember wanting things that just seemed so far out of reach or that were made impossible because of circumstances or other people’s behavior.
I loved listening to German and French again. I admired the protagonist for her discipline at home, looking after her father without her sister caring that much, and at school, doing “the nerdy thing” even though peer pressure could have led her to do “the cool thing.”
Oh, and ouch, the bad decisions you can make as a teenager! I truly wanted this movie to end differently. I am just going to leave it at that because I do not want to give away too much.
In the final weeks of school, we follow the trials and tribulations of a group of young teenagers. Paula is in love with Charlotte, who may be interested but is still also dating a boy. And then there is Lilli, who has an affair with a boy while they both have the hots for Paula. Their fluid sexualities are never considered a problem; they are simply a matter of fact in this refreshingly naturalistic portrait of life at seventeen.
Tip 4: Signature Move
How refreshing to have so much diversity in one movie. We can get a glimpse of American, Pakistani, and Mexican culture as it is all combined in these eighty minutes. I have seen Fawzia Mirza in other LGBTQ productions but never in the lead of a movie; that is great for her! Apparently, she is also the writer and producer of this movie. I love how this movie is a love story in which both women are trying to balance their cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and insecurities and that you follow all this through a story of wrestling. Yes, wrestling, what else?
Deliciously entertaining, this colorful love story is as much about culture as it is about love. Zaynab is lesbian, Muslim and of Pakistani origin. With an overbearing mother, things get complicated as she meets flirty ‘love-em-and-leave-em’ Alma, while she is also dabbling in her new-found love for Mexican style wrestling. Warm and witty, this is a real crowd-pleaser of a movie.
2018 Roze Filmdagen Tip 5: Sisterhood
If you want to see a happy movie, this is not it. But to dismiss it just like that would mean you are missing out on a great movie. You can constantly feel Sei’s sadness about losing her best friend (yes, “best friend”) but at the same time, you are constantly smiling during the flashbacks of their friendship (yes, “friendship”) and hoping for happiness. As she has already passed away, you know from the start you are not going to get a happy ending but you are curious about how they met and what they meant to each other. Oh, and if you are curious about what happens in massage parlors, this movie might enlighten you.
Love intertwines at the wrong time. The past almost feels like a foreign country in Tracy Choi’s female-oriented melodrama, which juxtaposes the regrets over a lost lesbian romance with the alienation of a former Macau native as she returns to what is now a glamorous gambling capital. Great acting performances drive this award-winning film.
Tip 6: Hello Again
Yay, I loved this musical! If you are looking for a strictly lesbian movie, I urge you to broaden your mind and include this movie in your plans. This masterpiece is extremely well done. There are ten protagonists who all have two love stories. Or, should I say sex stories? The best thing is, they are all set in different eras and when they subtly change storylines, they still refer back to their old character with a line or two.
When the movie started, there was an insensitive sex scene that made me question whether I was going to like this movie but I am so glad I kept watching. The sex/love interest of the protagonist is the protagonist in the next sex/love story. The whole LGBTQ spectrum is incorporated into the stories. I especially loved seeing Jenna Ushkowitz and Tyler Blackburn in completely different roles from what they did in Glee and PLL.
Loosely based on the 1897 play “La Ronde”, this dazzling and sexy musical celebrates love, regardless of gender. Ten very New York encounters, each set in appropriate time and music styles. With the best of Broadway performers, the seemingly disconnected stories reveal their unifying factor – the human desire to love and be loved.
2018 Roze Filmdagen Tip 7: Chavela
I had the pleasure of watching Chavela during IDFA’s Queer Day. Like I said in that blog, the movie immediately teaches you about her music. This builds the foundation of your documentary experience.
It slowly follows her life. It focuses on her songs, being nervous before performing, her flirting skills to alcoholism, being allowed to be a lesbian on stage but not in real life, and the lack of support from her family from an early age on.
You find out that she has a beautiful side and a dark side. The end of the movie, you grieve her death as if you have known her personally. The fact that you can become so emotionally attached to someone in a documentary means the creators have done a great job.
Tip 8: Mr. Gay Syria
You are right. Mr. Gay Syria is not a lesbian movie. Still, I want you to see it or at least know about it. I also had the pleasure of watching this documentary during IDFA’s Queer Day and it made a big impact on me. You are constantly hoping for Husein and his friends to get a break and be granted a visa. You are also left wondering about their culture. Even though they speak of it so lovingly, you never get to see the beauty of Syria. The despair is real. You cannot help but wonder what you would do had you been in the same situation.
So many options at the Roze Filmdagen!
These are my movie tips for the 2018 Roze Filmdagen. Still, there are so many movies, documentaries, and shorts that I still want to see. Also, there will be a screening of the winners of the 48 Hours Project. The project had an LGTBQ theme this year. So, the movies match the program of the 2018 Roze Filmdagen perfectly.
Want to stay in Amsterdam?
If you want to stay in Amsterdam for the 2018 Roze Filmdagen from March 8-18, I have found you some hotels on Booking.com.
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