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Sunburn

Gay Essential Review: Sunburn (Golpe de Sol) at Melbourne Queer Film Festival

Sunburn (Golpe de Sol) is a conceptual Portuguese drama exploring the complex connections between four long-time friends. Writer-director Vicente Alves do Ó fills each scene with bold experimental filmmaking touches that draw out the attitudes that gurgle under the surface.

L’Animale

Gay Essential Review: L’Animale at Melbourne Queer Film Festival

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.

Night Comes On

Gay Essential Review: Night Comes On at Melbourne Queer Film Festival

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.

Making Montgomery Clift

Gay Essential Review: Making Montgomery Clift at Melbourne Queer Film Festival

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.

Carmen & Lola

Gay Essential Review: Carmen & Lola (Carmen y Lola) at Melbourne Queer Film Festival

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.

Fireflies

Gay Essential Review: Fireflies (Luciérnagas) at International Film Festival Rotterdam

The characters of Bani Khoshnoudi’s film are broken and lost, each in their own way; they are marked by a restlessness and instability that is reflected in the Mexican port city of Veracruz, where Fireflies is set. Veracruz was once a place of luxury and vibrant culture but is now a place of decay and oxidized, crumbling buildings. Much like the Casablanca of that famous Michael Curtiz 1942 film noir, Veracruz is a depicted as a place of passage and transit, mirroring the internal struggles of its inhabitants as well as the current globalized situation of exile.

Elisa y Marcela

Gay Essential Review: Elisa y Marcela at Berlinale

Over a century before Spain finally legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, two women called Marcela Gracia Ibeas and Elisa Sánchez Loriga beat the odds and were married under the eyes of God in 1901. Isabel Coixet’s latest drama brings the couple’s story to life in Elisa y Marcela.

Fabiana

Gay Essential Review: Fabiana at International Film Festival Rotterdam

Journey is, in every sense of the term, more important than destination in Fabiana, directed by Brazilian filmmaker Brunna Laboissiére. Here, Laboissiére hitches a ride with a lesbian transgender woman named Fabiana, a seasoned truck driver approaching retirement who has criss-crossed Brazil for several years, joining her on what will be one of her last ever work trips.

Tremors

Gay Essential Review: Tremors (Temblores) at Berlinale

Pablo (Juan Pablo Olyslager) seems to have it all. With his beautiful family and a respected job in finance, the fortysomething patriarch is the envy of his community, but as Tremors (Temblores) opens, we learn that Pablo has done something which threatens the very foundations of his world, much like the titular tremors that plague Guatemala City.

Men of Hard Skin

Gay Essential Review: Men of Hard Skin (Hombres de piel dura) at International Film Festival Rotterdam

José Celestino Campusano is an Argentinean filmmaker known for a type of brutal realism that often unearths the origins of hidden desires and the energies that influence the nature and machinations of the environments of his stories. The strongest of these energies is sexuality and while the characters are never either likable or entirely unpleasant, they are often divided between those who take charge of it and those who, for one reason or another, do not.

The Harvesters

Gay Essential Review: The Harvesters (Die Stropers) at Thessaloniki International Film Festival

With his feature writing-directing debut, Greek-South African filmmaker Etienne Kallos takes a subtle but sharply pointed look into Afrikaans culture as it grapples with larger social shifts. Within this, The Harvesters (Die Stropers) explores the thorny issue of identity and sexuality in a provocative and darkly moving way.

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