Tag: Queer Day

5 New Queer Documentaries on Queer Day 2018 by IDFA

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.

‘5 New Queer Documentaries on IDFA’s Queer Day’ November 19, IDFA held the sixth edition of Queer Day. They showed five new documentaries of which I was able to watch four: Beside the Water, Bixa Travesty, Obscuro Barroco, and Cassandro, the Exotico! Here, you can read what I thought about them so you can decide if you want to watch them yourself: http://bit.ly/QueerDay18

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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.

My experience

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.

My experience

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?

My experience

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.

My experience

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!

What lesbian movies can you watch at the 2018 Roze Filmdagen?

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.

‘What lesbian movies can you watch at the 2018 Roze Filmdagen (Amsterdam LGBTQ Film Festival)?’ March 8-18, you can visit the 21st edition of the Roze Filmdagen, or the Amsterdam LGBTQ Film Festival. I have listed the top lesbian movies you should go and watch. Find them here: http://bit.ly/2018RFD

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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.

DVD algemeen

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.

IDFA 2017: 5 Diverse Documentaries on Queer Day

IDFA 2017: 5 Diverse Documentaries on Queer Day

On November 20, the fifth Queer Day was held at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in the beautiful building of EYE film museum. On this day, we were shown five premieres of LGBTQ+ documentaries, some of which were followed by debates with filmmakers, protagonists, and experts. I was there and so I can tell you all about it. A vlog is included if that is more your cup of tea.

‘IDFA 2017: 5 Diverse Documentaries on Queer Day’ On November 20, the fifth Queer Day was held at IDFA. On this day, we were shown five premieres of LGBTQ+ documentaries, some of which were followed by debates with filmmakers, protagonists, and experts. I was there and so I can tell you all about it. A vlog is included if that is more your cup of tea. Read it here: http://bit.ly/QueerDay

Chavela

Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi – United States – 2017

Short synopsis: Singer Chavela Vargas (1919-2012) was born in Costa Rica, but at 14, she left for Mexico to perform in elegant clubs. “When I dressed like a woman, I just looked like a transvestite,” so she decided to comb her hair back and to wear pants and a poncho — a look considered outrageous in the 1930s. Although she did not come out as a lesbian until the age of 81, her sexual orientation was a public secret

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·         Review Chavela

What a great start of Queer Day. I am going to be honest and say that I had never heard of Chavela before, which some of you may find unbelievable. The movie immediately teaches you about her music, building the foundation of your documentary experience.

After that, it slowly follows her life, touching upon various subjects, ranging from her songs, being nervous before performing, and 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 and at 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.

Queerama

Daisy Asquith – United Kingdom – 2017

Short synopsis: composed entirely of excerpts from BFI’s archive, Queerama tells the extraordinary story of the development of attitudes towards homosexuality in the UK. It shows British legislation on homosexuality but focuses on the fears, longings, relationships, and oppression of gay men and women, and how they have been portrayed in film and on TV. All this is supported by a luscious soundtrack with music by John Grant, Goldfrapp, and Hercules & Love Affair.

·         Review Queerama

What a celebration of queer life! The challenge that this documentary faces is that there is not one person that you follow and to whom you become emotionally attached. How can one then tell a story with a big pile of unrelated pieces of footage?

Well, both UK legislation and the soundtrack bring everything together. What is cleverly done is that the creators have edited unrelated pieces of footage in such a way that the people in it seem to communicate or be in the same surroundings. Simply because you are traveling in time almost seamlessly, I sometimes wondered: “Wait, what era was this in?”

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What I particularly liked was the interviewer from the sixties (or somewhere around that era, sorry I don’t know the exact moment) who simply asked gay men and lesbian women brutally honest questions. He referred to heterosexuals as normal people and he asked questions like: “What do lesbians do?” or “Are you attracted to your students?” One could hate him for it but I was surprised that in the context of his era, he was not afraid to ask those questions. After all, most people ignored the subject completely or thought it was a disease. These interviews are a small time capsule opened.

This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous

Barbara Kopple – United States – 2017

Short synopsis: Gigi Gorgeous started a vlog at the age of fourteen when she was still Gregory Lazzarato. In her transition from Gregory to Gigi, the camera is her therapist and YouTube is her diary. She likes to boost people’s confidence by showing them how it is possible to be yourself.

·         Review This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous

The many layers this documentary had was what I liked about it. It really tells several stories, some of which you may find hit home. I mean, I am not transgender, but I recognized the process of coming to terms with who you are and figuring out how you want to express yourself.

On another level, the impact you can have with posting videos was interesting. At this event, I was filming my first vlog. Let me tell you: it is scary as hell. Gigi even had to become comfortable with herself as a transgender woman in front of the camera. Those videos mean so much to so many people. In a way, I knew the impact such videos can have but at the same time, I did not. Does that make sense?

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Mr. Gay Syria

Ayse Toprak – France, Turkey, Germany – 2017

Short synopsis: Twenty-four-year-old Husein is from Syria. As an LGBT refugee stuck in a straight marriage, he waits in Istanbul for possible placement in Europe. He must hide his sexual orientation from his conservative family. He can be himself with his friends in Istanbul’s tight-knit gay community. To bring attention to homosexuality among Syrians, he decides to compete in the Mr. Gay Syria and Mr. Gay World competitions.

Mr. Gay Syria @ Queer Day

·         Review: Mr. Gay Syria

Wow, this was definitely the saddest documentary of the day. You are constantly hoping for him 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, though. You cannot help but wonder what you would do had you been in the same situation.

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco

James Crump – United States – 2017

Short synopsis: Antonio Lopez is considered the most influential fashion illustrator of the last century. This hypnotic collage is a tribute to the life and work of this highly energetic artist. His work was always groundbreaking; one example is that Lopez was among the first to draw black models.

I had to go home after Mr. Gay Syria, so I cannot tell you anything about the experience of watching this documentary. You will have to see it for yourself!

A day after Queer Day: afterthoughts

At the moment of writing this blog, it is the day after Queer Day. That makes it an interesting day to see what has stuck with me. First of all, I am impressed by all the different stories I have seen. IDFA has done a great job selecting an inclusive program with the restriction of only five documentaries. The four that I watched have all given me different feelings. I like it! So, you can see this as virtual applause to IDFA.

·         Relevant

Secondly, I was able to watch two discussions: one after Queerama and one after Mr. Gay Syria. Daisy Asquith, director of Queerama, told us that she was leaving for Russia the day after Queer Day. She was going to show Queerama at a gay film festival there. This particular festival and its organizers are the subject of many protests, so she was a bit afraid she was going to go to jail. The day before Queer Day, the government in Ankara, Turkey announced that it would ban all gay film festivals from now on. These two examples show you just how relevant a Queer Day or a gay film festival still is to this day.

·         Closure

In addition, I still feel the emotions from watching Mr. Gay Syria. I was happy the director and two of the men followed in the documentary were available for a discussion. The movie ends on a sad note and you long for some type of closure. Seeing that these two men were living a happy life (not together anymore but still close) and hearing that Husein has finally been granted asylum in France made me very emotional and happy. The big question that this movie raises is “What can we do to help?” If you want to know the answer, you should follow their Facebook page because they are coming up with some solutions soon.

Stay updated!

I hope you liked reading this IDFA Queer Day blog and watching my first vlog. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos. My aim is to cover cool LGTBQ+ events. An example is ClexaCon in Las Vegas!

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