San Francisco’s gay nightlife comes alive in director Thales Corrêa’s modern romance, Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots, in which Brazilian Born Leo and Donnie explore the clubs and bars in hopes for love.
Huckleberry has a crush on his lifelong friend Jolene, even though she’s deep in a relationship with Clint, a drug addicted, violent man far beneath her. Taking matters into his own hands, he irreparably changes the dynamics of his friendship group as he confuses seeking justice with winning the heart of a girl he has long admired.
Jenna and Kate are a couple in quiet crisis; after almost two years together, their initial spark has faded, to be replaced by light bickering and passive aggressiveness. In the hope of brightening up their sex lives, Kate arranges a threesome with the effortlessly sexy, ridiculously cool Mia – but the cracks in this fraught relationship only deepen as Jenna discovers that the situation is not entirely as it first seems.
Outside of documentaries, the Syrian refugee crisis is yet to become a major subject in arthouse cinema, but its impact is beginning to be keenly felt by LGBT filmmakers. People arriving from a country with a hostile attitude towards gay people can find themselves struggling to fit in when arriving in a more welcoming environment, feeling displaced from the community in which they belong due to having to hide who they are for so long.
Fans of the unrelenting absurdism of Tim Robinson’s Netflix series I Think You Should Leave will be delighted to hear that an offbeat counterpart is currently making its way around the LGBTQ festival circuit. Cubby, the directorial debut of writer and star Mark Blane, is a distinctively queer spin on a comedic archetype largely reserved for straight protagonists: the man-baby who shirks adult responsibility at every opportunity, never ceasing to view the world through naive eyes.
The film follows Tina, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who has spent the vast majority of her life in the United States. Living with her grandmother, Tina is hoping to raise the money for the next step in her transition, while dealing with a long term boyfriend who appears embarrassed to be seen with her in public. Elsewhere, the film tackles important themes such as violence against trans women, and the normalised prejudice against the community.
Emilia is a fun-loving, free-spirited experimental actress, with the ideal non-committal lifestyle to go with her non-committal personality; she gets invited to cool parties with drama students, has drunken sex with her sort-of girlfriend Mariana, and has a laugh with a trusted group of pals in her spare time. The only problem? Emilia is 35, and while everyone else has grown up and found stability, she’s been stuck in the same rut for the past two decades. Second Star on the Right, explores Emilia’s reluctance to let go of her arguably childish ways, and gently mulls over the true meaning of maturity.
It’s scathing and satirical as it sinks its teeth into predatory men and far right conspiracy theorists, providing the broadest dark laughs while offering something far more groundbreaking for the vampire genre below such surface pleasures. It’s a humble film that has no intention above making horror fans howl in delight – but on closer inspection, it’s clear that it deserves far more credit than a film in this style is likely to receive.
There is a moment in Chanya Button’s long-awaited Vita & Virginia where all the adornments of the period drama fall away to peer within the timeless image of sexual discovery – as one Virginia Woolf, admits to her almost-lover Vita Sackville-West that she “cannot” give her what she longs for. Her body tense, her tone one of desperate confession, this insight into one of the greatest minds of the 20th century feels almost sacred.
A Dog Barking at the Moon was this year’s winner of Berlin’s Teddy award, and will be continuing its festival run at this year’s Outfest. The sheer bravery that led to this singular art film getting made, even lying to the Chinese censorship board about the subject matter in order to secure necessary funding, shows how passionate Xiang Zi was about sharing her story, warts and all.