Some documentaries delve deeper into the personal lives of the subjects than initially intended, but few manage to feel as raw and intimate as a home movie. The Silk and the Flame, premiering in the Panorama Documentary section at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, is one such film.
The rural setting of this coming of age tale may initially remind viewers of the similarly rugged Yorkshire backdrops of God’s Own Country, one of last year’s standout LGBT films. But the Peruvian landscape hides an intolerant undercurrent, with these rural villages populated entirely by townsfolk with reactionary and religiously motivated attitudes towards same sex relationships.
Just over ten years ago, Polish filmmaker Alina Skrzeszewska moved to a hotel near Skid Row, America’s infamous “homeless capital” located on the outskirts of central Los Angeles. Despite only spending a year living in the neighbourhood, it’s had a significant impact on her life – and she’s returned there once again to make yet another documentary following the citizens caught living on the streets just blocks away from luxurious skyscrapers.
As a documentary, Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? is a balanced production, showing us the perspective of the protagonist and the sometimes controversial opinions of friends and relatives. The film is also an excellent way to further discuss and overcome stereotypes associated to being HIV+. The big lesson we all have to learn with this movie is that love, after all, triumphs.
Jonathan is directed by Polish-born Piotr J. Lewandowski—his first film. It’s got all the elements of a successful movie. Great cinematography, an incredible cast and a soundtrack that fits well within the story. There are contrasting moments of happiness and sadness, confusion and clarity. It’s a touching story which some might find sad, but somehow the joy shines through.
Brazil has seen a recent wave of contemporary LGBT cinema. Last year’s Berlinale saw the premiere of Brazilian film, Beira-Mar, and this year’s Brazilian LGBT hit was the film Don’t Call Me Son (in original Portuguese “Mãe só ha uma” / There is only one mother). As part of the Panorama program, the film is unique in that it tells an interesting story that goes beyond the traditional topics covered in gay cinema.