Good Kisser: The New Sexy Lesbian Movie You Didn’t Know You Needed
Good Kisser is a new lesbian movie that I have been dying to watch since I discovered it on social media a few months ago. All I knew was the plotline: “Jenna agrees to a sexy weekend fling with materialistic girlfriend Kate and the worldly Mia. As the night unfolds, Jenna realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew, and the love triangle begins to crack.”
In this blog post, I describe why this movie started to intrigue me a few months ago and how I feel after watching Good Kisser. This way, you know exactly how quickly you should go and watch it. I have also recorded a video if that is more your cup of tea. You can find it below this image (don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!)
Why the idea of Good Kisser was intriguing to me
The first thing I want to mention is the fact that this movie centers around lesbian sex lives. I find that refreshing because I clearly remember the time when we had to settle for a kiss. Or there would merely be a glance. I do always get scared when productions take this route because so often, sexy f/f scenes are directed for the male gaze. So, will these scenes actually be sexy for us? Given the fact that Wendy Jo Carlton is the writer and director of this movie, I trusted things would be fine sexy.
The second thing that intrigued me is that the feature film, in large part, focuses on three people in a timeframe of one night. To me, that gave the movie a bit of a theatrical vibe, focusing on characters and their development rather than on action. I like diving into characters, so that is what made me even more enthusiastic.
As you can probably tell, I was really excited when I received a screener.
The first thing I liked about Good Kisser: the quality of production
I do not know if it is because this production had a decent amount of funding or because most of it was shot at one location (well, it seems that way; they may have fooled me 😉) but the quality is really good. Sometimes when you watch an indie movie, you can immediately list a few things that could have gone better had the production had more money. The drone shots with which the movie starts, the lighting, everything just seems to be really well done.
The second thing I liked: the cast
I cannot talk about Good Kisser without talking about the cast. If your movie focuses on three people in a timeframe of one night, the cast can make or break the movie. If the actors are not interesting to watch or if there is absolutely no chemistry between them when they have to portray people in love or lust, the movie is doomed.
Fortunately, Kari Alison Hodge, Rachel Paulson, and Julia Eringer were cast as Jenna, Kate, and Mia. When watching, you want to pay close attention to every single actor. Oh, and that chemistry? Don’t worry about it…
The two supporting roles are needed to further the development of the story. Those actors (Courtney McCullough and Carter Rodriquez) obviously contribute to the movie in their own charming ways.
The third thing I liked about Good Kisser: the lines
I think it was within three minutes that my wife and I looked at each other like: “What?!” Within about ten minutes, I must have alternated ‘Jesus’ with ‘oh my god’ and ‘WTF?’ at least twenty times. I guess you could say I was hooked from the beginning. I wish I had been a fly on the wall that first table reading. You will have some feelings about the comments that Kate makes.
The fourth thing I liked: the soundtrack
Another worthy mention is the music in this movie. The songs match the scenes perfectly. I usually don’t need the soundtrack to a movie but this is something I could listen to more often!
The fifth thing I liked about Good Kisser: the sexy scenes
I don’t think you can review this movie without mentioning the sexy scenes. Remember that fear I had of them not being good? Eh, yeah, not necessary. Are they sexy? Yup.
Where can you watch Good Kisser?
Good Kisser, shot in Seattle, will have its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, which runs May 16 – June 9, 2019. Other dates/film festivals will be announced on their website and social media pages, so make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Who knows, you might find out when you will be able to purchase the movie yourself.
In a few weeks, I will show you the interview I had with Kari Alison, Rachel, and Julia at ClexaCon. Have you read my first ClexaCon interview? It was with Julia and Shantell Yasmine Abeydeera, who work together in Girls Like Magic.
In November, Sheetal Sheth (actor), Shamim Sarif (director), and Hanan Kattan (producer) visited ClexaCon London to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their movie I Can’t Think Straight. Fortunately, they also came to the press room. We were able to ask them some questions about their movies I Can’t Think Straight and The World Unseen, about queer roles, and about future projects. Not the entire fifteen-minute interview is written down below. So, if you want to know more, please watch the video below this image.
If you had unlimited time and budget, what would you change about I Can’t Think Straight if anything?
Shamim: The changes would be subtle: the shot making, the editing, some of the direction. I think that is just part of evolving as an artist. I think you would feel that for a song you have written ten years ago or a novel. So, what I tried to do at the end of that screening [ClexaCon held an anniversary screening of the movie on Friday] was think: “Wow, look at the impact it is having. People get the core of it.” So, I should not be pernickety whether a steady cam would have been nice here or there. But I think it is just having more tools […], that would be fun to experiment with.
Hanan: And very expensive [laughs].
Shamim: And very expensive. And often I think time is a pressure for movies. With a bit more time, actors would be able to explore their characters more, there would be more ideas, and we would have been able to shoot scenes that were supposed to be in the film but never made it. That would be great. I think it is time that would be more of a luxury.
More time and money
Sheetal: I think it is the same. For more time, you need more money, so that is usually why you do not have a lot of time. For an actor, it is really about having the space to do your work and generally, in smaller movies, you do not have that much, you know. You have to deliver the moment you get there because of time. I am very proud of the film but of course, if we had more time, we could have maybe expounded something else or explored something else or maybe done a cool shot from a different angle. You know, you can spend a day on a scene, which a lot of movies are afforded to do and you can really find so much in that.
On the other hand, there is also something really organic and spontaneous that happens in an environment of small films. I have done so many independent films. If you have the right people involved and the right kind of hearts involved, and everybody knows what to expect when they go there and do not get caught up on the fact that you do not have that stuff, you can really create in a different space, which is also very exciting.
Hanan: For me, besides the money factor and time, is to have some pre-sale distribution in place, because it guarantees a wider release. For that to happen, people need to know they can invest the money and know that there is a bigger release. But if you are a first-time or second-time movie, that is not that easy.
As queer women, what are your feelings on the importance of having queer actors portraying queer characters?
Shamim: It is actually something that has come up more recently for me as we cast our next film Polarized. It gives queer women more opportunity. I think there are two things. Here has been such a taboo in Hollywood for women to come out because it feels it is killing their career as a heterosexual portrayal. So, I think it is nice to share the other side of that. That you can have queer women play queer characters.
At the same time, I do not think it should be a limitation. In the same way that I do not think queer women should not play heterosexual characters. On a practical level, sales and distribution, sometimes people want a name. If the only name you can think of is Kristen Stewart and she is busy that moment, there are probably not enough queer actors with enough profile to pre-finance a movie. That is another consideration that people do not want to talk about but it is a reality of making film.
Hanan: Whoever suits the role the most. I think it is limiting. It is really the person, do they fit, the chemistry there, can they do it and do it with justice? For me, it is irrelevant as long as they portray the character well.
Sheetal [not queer]: I think it is a very tricky thing. First of all, I think the labeling of an actress in any way is the problem. You are not a queer actress: you are an actress who in your personal life is gay. To me, your sexuality should be irrelevant in the sense that you are in your workspace.
But I totally understand the idea that if that somehow has become something you are labeled with, and you are not able to get jobs as a heterosexual person in a movie… This whole conversation is like… But this is the world we live in, right? If it is a problem, then, of course, you should be able to have the roles that are written for someone who is gay.
But to me, as an actress, I am not interested in playing myself. It is about stretching. There is no point in being an actress if you are only going to do the same thing over and over again. But I do think, as a producer and a content creator, you should just be open to hiring people of all backgrounds, making sure there is a seat at the table for everybody, whatever that may mean. But I do not think that can be the only factor; I think it is a more holistic way of making movies.
What does it mean to you personally and to your career to be at an event like ClexaCon London?
Sheetal: It is so exciting. I still cannot believe I Can’t Think Straight has been ten years. Obviously, The World Unseen as well. I could never have imagined the impact that these movies have had on so many. You hope for that. You know, you hope that when you make art, that impacts somebody at some point other than yourself. I think to be invited and welcomed in this way is really sweet and lovely.
The things that I am hearing from meeting everybody and also being able to meet fans that have been messaging and tweeting me and then finally being able to put a face to a name has been really exciting. And then also hearing what it is. What is the story? Hearing in person what the story is and what it has done and why.
Happy ending I Can’t Think Straight
Sheetal: What I keep hearing about I Can’t Think Straight is the happy ending, which I did not realize, is so rare in stories having to do with two women. I am like: “Is that true?” And they are like: “Yeah, actually, either someone dies or there are drugs or there is something.” How is that supposed to give anybody hope? I just do not even understand. Honestly, it blew my mind when I kept hearing over and over ‘thank you for this.’ I did not even write the movie. I learn. I am learning a ton. The fact that that seems to be the reality for this type of content is troubling. It is shocking.
She asks Shamim if she knew this. Shamim: I did not actually, but I am terrible…
After I Can’t Think Straight
Hanan: No, it is after I Can’t Think Straight. It is based on us really [points to Shamim, her wife], some fiction. So, it is amazing how it has affected women. Many women have come out as a result of this film in particular.
Sheetal: The coming-out scene. Word for word, people will quote me. They say: “This is what I said too.” I am like: “Oh my Gosh, you did?”
Hanan: Yes. A lot of women have felt more comfortable in their skin. Maybe some have not come out still but they feel better about themselves. That it is okay to have such feelings or to go through this and to come out. So, coming to events like this is very important to continue with spreading the message and reaching more people.
Sheetal: And giving it the space and the pedigree that it deserves. You do not want to be in the corner. You absolutely have… Everybody has the right to have their own voice and space heard. And so, for ClexaCon to do that, that is really great for them.
More I Can’t Think Straight
As mentioned, this is not the full interview. You can hear more in my video. Do not forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and share my videos. That really helps with future trips to LGBT+ cons. This matters because I aim to bring the cons home to people who cannot go to them themselves. It only takes a few seconds to help our beautiful community!
Have not watched I Can’t Think Straight yet? You can find the movie on Amazon or in iTunes.
5 New Queer Documentaries on Queer Day 2018 by IDFA
November 19, IDFA (International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam) held the sixth edition of Queer Day. Queer Day 2018 kicked off with a video essay by queer artist Finn Paul, followed by a visit to Rio de Janeiro through the eyes of transgender icon Luana Muniz and a look into the life of Mexican wrestler Cassandro de Exotico. The day winded up with a portrait of performance artist Linn da Quebrada in Bixa Travesty with a live performance by Guillermo Blinker (OTION) and ended with an intimate portrait of a porn star in Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life In between these last two films, the audience was welcome at the Queer Drinks in the foyer of EYE. I could not stay until the very end, but I can tell you what I thought of the first four documentaries.
First documentary on Queer Day 2018: Beside the water, 1999-2004 by Finn Paul
Info by IDFA: Queer artist Finn Paul tells the story of transgender sexual awakening in this provocative video essay that looks back at the early 2000s when transgender lives were less visible. He energetically combines both history and photographs of lovers to create a personal story of sexual discovery. Real and imaginary events blend in a mix of erotic snapshots, found footage, home videos, postcards, and desert landscapes. At the same time, he criticizes the misconceptions about queer people that existed at the time.
Finn Paul not only delves into his own personal collection but also creates new, imagined images. This way, he proposes alternative ways to bring a trans-past to the surface of his memory. This unconventional video diary rewrites the past to herald a queer future, with a place for pleasure, sincerity, and beauty.
An essay film is not the type of movie I usually watch. There were some moving images but mostly photos. It was interesting to see and hear these different types of footage, such as listening to a voicemail and watching a photo of an envelope that once contained a love letter. It is exactly why I love visiting film festivals; they open up a world to you that you may not have looked for yourself. It felt like a visit to the museum while simply sitting in your chair. So, I am happy that IDFA and the director offered me this opportunity. It is definitely a creative piece of work.
In terms of story or impact, it did not really move me personally but I can understand that if you are transgender yourself, this short documentary can be of much value to you given the fact that much transgender history is erased or hidden.
Second documentary on Queer Day 2018: Obscuro Barroco by Evangelia Kranioti
Info by IDFA: [This] is a spellbinding, hallucinatory film essay that wanders off the beaten narrative track and takes us to Rio de Janeiro, the go-to city for anyone wanting to transform into a new version of themselves at the exhilarating, gender-bending carnival, or one of the many nightclubs for the queer scene.
This visual homage meanders through the steamy clubs, the vivid carnival parades with their buttock-shaking dancers, and the raging protests, before drifting onwards into the nocturnal streets of Rio, a city of extremes where queer culture is in full bloom.
Our guide and narrator is the famous Brazilian transgender activist Luana Muniz (1961-2017), who is sensual and melancholy as she recites lines of poetry from Clarice Lispector’s experimental monologue Água Viva. Reflections on identity, aging, and self-expression all flow into the lights of Rio. Political events that herald a new conservative era seep into the background of this dizzying dream.
I do not really know what to say about this documentary. It felt very much like a dream. You see Luana Muniz but not enough to establish a real connection with her. You see many different images from Rio, which offer very bright and beautiful colors. In the meantime, you hear this poem being recited. I was constantly wondering what it all meant. As a result, I was not really present, which may have distracted me from the true meaning of the documentary. I can see that it was very creative, though.
Third documentary on Queer Day 2018: Cassandro, the Exotico! by Marie Losier
Info by IDFA: Cassandro is often referred to as the Liberace of lucha libre (Spanish for “freestyle wrestling”). This tough Mexican show wrestler wears glittering costumes and has more than earned his wrestling stripes in his gender-bending exótico persona. In this intimate 16mm portrait, we follow this likable entertainer and athlete in the twilight of his 26-year career. His body is, at last, succumbing to the years of broken bones, concussions, and alcohol and drug abuse.
The characteristic color palette of this analog film perfectly complements Cassandro’s life: his spectacular costumes, his home filled with trinkets and the poor neighborhood where he grew up. On just a few occasions the protagonist himself appears in a Skype conversation. These are often his darkest moments, and it’s in these scenes that director Marie Losier becomes most deeply involved. Cassandro needs to reconcile himself with the prospect of his impending retirement. But without the spotlight, who is he?
Because we closely follow one person, I was drawn in much more than in the previous documentaries. When Cassandro is happy or cracking jokes, you laugh with him. When he tells you about his dark past, upcoming retirement or relapse, you feel for him. And when he is adjusting his hair for the umpteenth time, you chuckle at his vanity. You admire his perseverance when you see his scars, x-rays, and casts. Finally, when you see him jump from the ceiling during wrestling matches, you understand his talent.
Fourth documentary on Queer Day: Bixa Travesty by Claudia Priscilla and Kiko Goifman
Info by IDFA: Raw, vital and sometimes very intimate portrait of the Brazilian artiste Linn da Quebrada, a “tranny fag” who uses her own body as her medium of political expression. Her performances are confrontational, subversive and colorful—and they offer no room at all for a heteronormative perspective. She deconstructs the self-image of the alpha man and examines what a tranny fag really is.
Public and private life are completely intertwined in this journey of discovery, with discussions about gender and how to define it—or undefine it—taking place in the shower, in the bedroom, and on the radio. We see Linn da Quebrada sharing tender moments with her family, during playful exchanges with friends and bursting with self-confidence onstage.
I am happy to have watched this. Quite a few people walked out, though. Were they offended by the many genitals shown? Were they bored by the huge amount of text spoken, sung or shouted? It shows that no matter what you think of this documentary, you will have an opinion. And is that not precisely the reason why art exists? To challenge you and the world around you?
For me, I have seen enough penises for a while but I enjoyed the moments when they sat down for the radio shows. There, they stripped away most of the show and came back to their message. That is when I really listened.
Queer Day 2018
Queer Day 2018 was the second time I visited IDFA’s Queer Day. Last year, I watched Chavela, Queerama, This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, and Mr. Gay Syria. I have to say that Queer Day had a bigger impact on me last year. I feel the 2017 program was more diverse in terms of stories from the entire LGBTQIA community. And if I have to compare Chavela and Mr. Gay Syria, which I have seen winning quite a few awards over the year and shown at many different film festivals, with Cassandro, the Exotico! and Bixa Travesty, then I think the first two movies have a longer-lasting effect on its audiences. Bixa Travesty does have the potential to win some awards because it is so very outspoken. However, that may also be what works against it. Time will tell!
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 between 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: solely the protagonist
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 the series
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.
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