Following one of the most gut-wrenching events in the history of the Filipino trans movement, Call Her Ganda is a staggering and thought-provoking documentary on the epidemic of violence against LGBTQ people. Part-chronicle, part-tribute, the film is ushered by three central female figures who take on a seemingly never-ending and irremediable quest for justice.
Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Documentarian Lisa Immordino Vreeland definitely doesn’t think so, as her examination of the life and career of photographer/artist/costume designer Cecil Beaton understands that the many contradictions in his character informed a lifetime of work across a variety of different mediums.
The public perception of bodybuilding is currently defined by the idea of warped masculinity – a heteronormative activity exclusively for men who take more steroids daily than they have braincells in total. It’s not entirely clear how media representation of bodybuilders has, in the past few decades, gone from presenting them as idealised men to cultural laughing stocks, but T. Cooper’s documentary Man Made is set to send stereotypes back in the opposite direction.
The New York nightclub Studio 54 was so iconic that we feel like we know its story, but this documentary is packed with never-heard details that cast it in a whole new light. The film Studio 54 is solidly well-made, assembled with an insider’s perspective and packed with photos and footage of the top stars of the day partying like there’s no tomorrow.
At one point in HBO’s original documentary Believer, Imagine Dragons vocalist Dan Reynolds is warned that he’s going to open himself up to criticism for organising a pro-LGBTQ concert – just not predominantly from the religiously conservative, but LGBTQ people aghast at a cis-gender, heterosexual white man co-opting their struggle. This is slightly unfair, as both the film and the charity concert presented within are born of good intentions that deserve the renewed spotlight this documentary will place upon them.
Every Act of Life proves to be a surprisingly comprehensive documentary, effectively recounting six decades of a successful career at a brisk pace. For theatre fans, this is essential viewing – and for those of you like me, who shamefully don’t watch as many plays as they should, this is still well worth a look.
Out of all of XPOSED’s thrilling and uncanny candidates for this year’s edition, Paternal Rites is the most touching, brutal and indispensable. The international queer film festival’s heartrending addition allows us access into the troubled world of an abused child and now scarred adult who shyly and desperately seeks help to try and make sense of what happened to him.
Last year was the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in the United Kingdom. Director Simon Napier-Bell created a documentary, 50 Years Legal, to coincide with the anniversary. The film is described as an engaging but informative journey through LGBT rights in Britain since 1967, and how changes in politics and social attitudes, for better or worse, have evolved over the subsequent decades.
Ireland has been a fairly cold, distant place for gay people for too long. It was only three years ago that the country had passed marriage equality through public vote, under the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution. An inspiring documentary about the history of LGBTQ rights, The 34th sensibly depicts the long road to marriage equality in the Irish state, as well as the touching love story between politician Katherine Zappone and theologian Ann Louise Gilligan.
Prejudice, discrimination and hatred do not have to lead to loss of innocence and bitterness. This is what Sidney & Friends sublimely showcases in its exquisite seventy-five minutes – a riveting, but peaceful and vulnerable account of what it means to be transgender and intersex in the crude social climate of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.