We all are aware of the phrase “Patient Zero”, but the man who would be identified under this damning codename has become increasingly forgotten over time. Named in journalist Randy Shilts’ influential non fiction tome And the Band Played On, which finally brought the AIDS conversation into the mainstream several years after its first reported outbreak, a French-Canadian flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas was widely believed to be the first person who brought the disease to the USA and around the world.
The Ground Beneath My Feet is a slow burning delight, that manages to effectively balance its arthouse style with its genre inclinations. As an exploration of the emotional toll on women in the male dominated world of business, it would definitely make for a delightfully oddball double bill with Toni Erdmann.
Pitched somewhere between a behind the scenes look at downtrodden cabaret acts previously seen in a film like The Full Monty, and a high camp tale of an ageing drag queen reminiscent of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Tucked feels very distinctively like a throwback to the most successful of those efforts.
Most directors feel the need to overcompensate their material with cinematic flourishes, but Fitzgerald’s stripped down and intimate approach to the drama is far more rewarding. Splinters is a simple, quietly affecting family drama told in a humble manner; an authentic portrayal of an estranged family, where both the funny and moving moments come from the everyday. There’s no out of the ordinary dramatic twists here – and the film is all the better for it.
Mati is a tomboy nearing her final high school exams, who devotes most of her free team on her motorbike, hanging with an irritating group of boys. One day, when helping out her mum at the vets, she meets Carla, a local shop assistant who she is instantly attracted to. As her attraction to Carla grows, the rifts within her friendship group become more palpable, especially between her and Sebi the son of a local farmer who clearly has feelings for Mati.
In a few years time, when we look back on the festival films that had left a standing impression after the hype wore down, Jordana Spiro’s feature debut will likely be amongst those held in the highest regard. Night Comes On is an intimate drama that can easily fall through the cracks when drowned out by more nakedly audacious films at festivals.
For lovers of classic Hollywood, the trajectory of Montgomery Clift is an archetypal example of a meteoric rise followed by a stratospheric fall. Originally propositioned by agents for years in the hope he’d sign on to become a child star, Clift instead waited until his late twenties to make his screen debut, and did so against the system.
Giant Little Ones isn’t the first teen movie to realise that being openly gay in high school is a waking nightmare – but it is one of the rare few that lets its character mature without ever offering a neat conclusion that he wouldn’t be afforded in real life. The best way of describing writer/director Keith Behrman’s film is a grittier Canadian cousin of Love Simon; a film about the all encompassing hell of being in the closet, even if there are more people in your life who would accept you than ones who wouldn’t.
Carmen & Lola (Carmen y Lola), the directorial debut of Arantxa Echevarria, reinvigorates a familiar coming out scenario by transporting it to the heart of Madrid’s Roma community, finding within it specific cultural issues that, sadly, allows for one of the oldest narratives within LGBT storytelling to maintain its relevancy.
Justin Johnson is a privileged rich kid, whose parents only ever wanted two things – a straight son who got straight A’s. Bankrolling his college fund, he’s flown the nest and is finally free to be himself, until he gets phone calls from his disapproving father that always lead to committing various acts of self harm.
Lemebel is an enrapturing look at the life of an LGBT icon, told with an intimacy that feels like catching up with an old friend. Joanna Reposi Garibaldi perfectly honours the spirit of her subject by grabbing your attention with many of his more abrasive, harder to define stages of performance art, then slowly peeling back the disreputable veneer to uncover the man at the heart of it all.