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Queer Roundup at GAZE International Film Festival

by Seán McGovern.

Last weekend I had the absolute pleasure of being invited to Dublin, Ireland to be on a jury of my queers at the 26th GAZE: International LGBT Film Festival. While it was fun to be back in MY HOME COUNTRY, it was even better to see such a diverse and compelling programme. After the jump a special spotlight on LGBT docs and the short film winners (and one spectacular narrative feature) which will be hopefully making it to a film festival near you soon. Don't forget to support queer cinema AND your local dive bar...

COBY (dir. Christian Sonderegger, France)
A tender US tale of transition, filmed with a European eye and sensibility. COBY was directed by the protagonist's half-brother, as he details the transformation that takes place in the family as they lose a daughter but gain a son. Combined with Coby's own YouTube videos reaching out to others in the trans community, which gives the film a homemade touch amid the sweeping shots of snow in the American midwest. It's Coby's parents that stand out, seemingly together but always filmed apart. These flyover-state intellectuals feel at odds with the their surroundings, with Coby seeming like the most ordinary character of all, as he just goes on with things. While watching, I had to check and see if this film was Canadian, so make of that what you will.

BLACK DIVAS (dir. Adrian Russell Wills, Australia)
Just when I think I've had it up to my eyeballs with “the transformative power of drag” out comes a sincere yet delightfully chaotic story about Australia's inaugural Miss First Nation pageant. The queens are up front about about their challenges in life, being the minority of all minorities in the land. It cannot be underestimated how significant this small but substantial pageant and doc might be. Though the film sometimes feels as if the whole editing process was entirely optional, the topic nevertheless is deserving of a revisit once the Miss First Nation has secured its place on the queer calendar. Anything to get more screen time for Miss Crystal Love.

DYKES, CAMERA, ACTION (dir. Caroline Berler, USA)
If you have a penchant for movies that are about other movies then you are set up to enjoy the already very likeable Dykes, Camera, Action. Featuring filmmakers Barbara Hammer, Rose Troche, Cheryl Dunye, and Desiree Akhavan among many others, the film is intersectional and extremely current, documenting where lesbian cinema is and where it needs to go next. It's a sapphic Celluloid Closet and especially delightful if you go in cold. A reminder for all of us to rewatch Born in Flames again.

EVERY ACT OF LIFE (dir. Jeff Kaufman, USA)
I wasn't as familiar with Terrence McNally as I should be (Love! Valour! Compassion; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune - I'm a bad gay), but there's a cavalcade of stars to vouch for him in this light and engaging documentary, featuring the man himself and the talking heads of Angela Lansbury, Nathan Lane, F. Murray Abraham and the disembodied voice of Mary Louise Streep herself. What is striking about McNally is not only his commitment to his work but the honesty of which he discusses his drinking, his lovers (including Edward Albee!) and, quite refreshingly, the healthy amount of sex he has had over the years.

OUTITUDE (dir. Sonya Mulligan, Ireland)
There's nothing like a hometown screening, especially one chock full of Irish lesbians. Outitude is the very definition of rough and ready. It is a true testament to the queer women of the entire island of Ireland, who for years have not only been fighting for a right to be equal in the eyes of the law, but who have been actively working toward a fairer, better and more progressive society for all. Ireland is a nation of storytellers and boy do we know how to talk, but the combination of personal histories, stories and reflections on where we are now made this feel like an urgent oral history for women up and down the country.


Winner – Best Documentary Feature

TRANNY FAG / BIXA TRAVESTY (dirs. Claudia Priscilla, Kiko Goifman; Brazil)
There's no stopping this astonishing documentary that I first reviewed in February during the Berlinale. A work that transcends identity politics, Tranny Fag is an aggressive, in your face challenge against slouching authoritarianism in Brazil, and a middle finger to all who would dare attempt to diminish the body of trans performer Linn da Quebrada.

Winner - Best International Short 

Something About Alex (dir. Reinout Hellenthal, The Netherlands)
One of the most accomplished queer shorts of recent memory, Alex is a young man who is knows what is happening to his body and in his mind. The problem is that he is not able to articulate it to himself, or his family. To say any more would be spoil the journey we all go on with Alex, along with his family whose own pain is not disregarded. A truly beautiful, emotional short film brimming with love and talent.

Winner – Best Irish Short

Breast Friends (dir. Elanor Rogers, Ireland)
There aren't enough female-centered films, and this debut from a young Irish director put young women on screen, made it complicated, messy, emotional and authentic. Feelings are explored on the girls' relay team, bra sizes are interrogated and kisses are had. Films that explore young stirrings, while recognising that nothing is definitive, are an important part of authentic storytelling. We do not know the future when the credits roll, but there's a certain confidence that tells us it's all going to be okay.


The Heiresses (dir. Marcelo Martinessi, Paraguay)
Having missed this at the Berlinale, I relished the chance to see this slow-burning, carefully contained story of an older lesbian couple in Asunción, Paraguay. Chela and Chiquita (Ana Brun and Margarita Irún) have been together for decades, and though both are from well-to-do backgrounds, they find themselves down on their luck. When Chiquita has a stint in prison, Chela is alone for the first time in years. During this period she gains an independence that is unfamiliar to her, and is captivated by a chaotic young woman. The film's action is a knife-edge of inaction, and is a fascinating portrayal of late-in-life love and desire. Could this be Paraguay's Oscar submission? It damn well should be!

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Reader Comments (1)

The Heiresses is really great. Thanks for the write-up here!

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

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