With a growing number of queer topics and motion pictures emerging in South African filmmaking, the status quo is being increasingly questioned and dismantled. Kanarie, tackles a variety of controversial subjects, from blind patriotism to the effects of religious dogma on sexuality and healthy self-expression.
Only a brilliant and gifted director can manage to make grueling topics like domestic abuse mesh well with dry humor and dramedy. Albeit slipping out of its vision and losing its prowess at times, Bitter Melon brings a genuinely refreshing and satisfying experience on the screens of this year’s Outfest edition.
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.
Set in 1983, the film depicts the growing friendship between gay writer Andrés (Eduardo Martinez), who has been banned from writing due to writing a subversive anti-government book, and the revolutionary woman (Lola Amores) tasked with keeping an eye on him for three days while a major event takes place down in their village.
Documentarian Bobbi Jo Hart’s new film Rebels on Pointe follows Les Ballets Trockadero on a world tour, discovering their worldwide fanbases and the artists behind the make-up. Despite being set in a drag inspired world, this feels as removed from the bitchiness associated with that culture as possible, as we find genuine warmth and affection between all group members.
If Ang Lee taught us anything, it’s that you can have intimacy and affection in the most rugged and wildest of places. With inevitable comparisons to Brokeback Mountain swarming the critics’ reviews after the movie’s premiere, God’s Own Country brings back that picturesque and rowdy feel, but certainly doesn’t stop there. This is a bittersweet testament of gay love in the countryside that screened at this year’s Outfest LGBT festival edition.
The perfectly cast Seana Kerslake takes an occasionally unappealing character and makes us want to give her the same recurrent chances as the other characters in the film. And there are some delightfully unexpected moments – largely stemming from Mary’s penchant for jeopardizing or even ruining whatever good things come her way.
Jonny Mars plays Alex, a drifter who wades back in to his hometown with the aim of confronting the man who abused him sexually as a child. Upon tracking down his former abuser, finding that he is frail and crippled with physical and mental illness, his original vengeance quest is paused and he continues to lead an existence outside of mainstream society. He is, after all, a man of few words, devoting his free time to either making money pimping himself or other people out- and it should be noted, although this issue is handled with surprising restraint, that the sexual partners he tends to visit are all significantly older men, which could be interpreted as a reason for his relationship with his abuser to become more complicated.
El Canto de Colibri is a study in love and acceptance that should be used at every PFLAG meeting, religious conference, parenting class and political campaign. And though the documentary is in Spanish with English subtitles and subjects of varying Latino descent, every ethnic group can draw something from this documentary whether as a parent, a child, a politician, a clergyman, a sociologist or otherwise.
The Watermelon Woman is one of the first films (if not THE first) about a black lesbian that is written, directed and produced by a black lesbian. As such, it not only takes on the rather uncomfortable topics of opportunities for black women in film, the portrayals of black women in film and the place of black women in the ongoing history of film, but approaches them from a uniquely personal perspective.
Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church premiered on BET’s digital platform in late 2015 and was screened at the White House in early 2016. It received such a rousing response at Outfest’s Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival in March of 2016 that Outfest organizers included it in the lineup for their main event a few months later.