Author Archives: Amos

“MADAME”— A Personal Documentary

“MADAME”

A Personal Documentary

Amos Lassen

Stephane Riethauser’s “Madame” is personal documentary in which he introduces us to his 90-year-old grandmother Caroline. The film explores the development of personal and gender identity in a patriarchal environment. 

Based on private archive footage, the film introduces us  to a strong and extravagant female figure who was the most successful businesswoman in Switzerland at a time when women stayed in the kitchen and at home and did not have the right to vote. She was independent and knew how to stand on her own in front of all the men around her. Her grandson who was raised to be the heir to the family business. He is a conservative alpha male and homophobe who suddenly comes out of the closet. Two people from the same family challenge the taboos of gender and sexuality.

Riethauser gives usan extremely honest and unflinching portrait of an aspect of his past.Caroline, the director’s grandmother (and muse) is an elderly woman who is anything but resigned. She seems to a controlled and bourgeois individual with a surprising strength of character. 

The film shows us the close and, at times, difficult relationship between the director and his grandmother who is a model of courage and determination. The direct and wholly sincere dialogue which establishes itself between these two beings, who veer between hypersensitivity and self-control, is explored through the rich family archives: short films shot in super 8 (filmed by the director’s father, but also by the filmmaker himself when we was just a small boy), footage of Riethauser and his grandmother (“Madame”) and slides and photographs of the family. 

Riethauser uses this film to give meaning to a particular aspect of his past which isn’t always linear or glorious. His current status as a director and spokesperson for the LGBT cause comes out of the suffering he has had to endure in the past. He felt obliged for a very long time to conform to a patriarchal, bourgeois version of society dominated by alpha males— a standardized version of “masculinity” which is both gruesome and ludicrous. Men, as described by the director’s father, should “have balls”, be courageous, fight for their family and their country.

Through his film, Riethauser not only paints a picture of the strong bond he shared with his grandmother but crucially, he also explores the patriarchal and bourgeois society within which genders must be interpreted and performed by being extremely careful not to upset the status quo. The young Stéphane ended up creating his own alter ego called “Riton”, a façade of pure arrogance and machismo behind which he could hide and self-annihilate. In ways such as this, the clichés surrounding gender are revealed. The director converses with the affluent, grandiose and complicated character of his grandmother, but he also voices his own inner dialogue, looking for traces of the “self” hidden beneath the hiding that he had to do as a result of a past governed by bourgeois respectability. 

Riethauser’s examination of his past and of his family is sincere and filled with humor. The power of this documentary is in the balance between intimacy and meticulousness, between the humor and the tragedy that is inherent to a reality based on appearances. He tells us at the beginning of the movie that the medium of film lets him express all those things that he was unable to say about love and sex during his childhood and adolescence. It’s his best way for taking a dispassionate and ironic look at how things used to be and gives him a liberated voice to a past that was dominated by “things unsaid”.The story of the relationship between the director and his grandmother relationship is the main crux of this documentary.

His grandmother, the matriarch of the family, was always a major influence in his life right from an early age.  She was a fiercely independent self-made woman who finally escaped the tyranny of her father who pushed her into marriage at 16 and that of her thug of a first husband.  Now 94 years old, she openly discusses her bad luck with men and with not a sign of bitterness.

The director looks back at all his personal turmoils of accepting his sexuality in a family environment where he was encouraged to be an alpha male in every sense of the world.  He uses this film to remind himself of how rough that  journey  was and  how after he finally accepts it himself, he can share the news with his family, and in particular, his grandmother.

The film is not just a cathartic journey for Riethauser, who as well as becoming a filmmaker is also a lawyer and gay activist, but also a glimpse into the remarkable relationship he shared with his grandmother. 

Riethauser’s facility with language makes us see sex roles in new ways: “a conception of women as mystical, helpless, and revered; men as controlling, aggressive and entitled, with shame and hate the fate of anyone who dares to move beyond the constructs.”

“THE TRIUMPH OF SODOM” (“El Triunfo de Sodoma”)— Underground Queer Cinema

“THE TRIUMPH OF SODOM” (“El Triunfo de Sodoma”)

Underground Queer Cinema

Amos Lassen

Goyo Anchou’s “The Triumph of Sodom” is thought-provoking underground queer cinema and a contemporary LGBTQ political work that combines social manifestos about gender, performance art and pornography.

The film begins with documenting demonstrations on the streets of Buenos Aires. From there we are taken to the Queer Club for a Spoken Word performance. If there is a plot, it is best explained by a feminist poet who explains to a horny straight guy, how he can become a feminist, a vegan and why he should be castrated to advance the world revolution.

The documentary was made in the margins of the Argentine audiovisual community (from which some of the creative team have been effectively blacklisted). It was produced according to the precepts of guerrilla film making and it is something of  a romantic torch song. Guerrilla film making in the Latin America origins of its practice is as an act of cultural resistance that uses production constraints as a starting point to reshape its very language.

Thus, marginality goes from limitation to facilitation. The result is always original, because the reality with which the production is confronted is always original. The originality of the film is part of its nature: rare and subversive. It is ajourney of consciousness that is filled with power.

“YO, ADOLESCENTE”—- After the Suicide

“YO, ADOLESCENTE”

After the Suicide

Amos Lassen

Zabo is haunted by the suicide of his good friend and a fire in Lucas Santa Ana’s, “Yo Adolescente”. He sees death everywhere. Zabo is a regular teen in a bourgeois family whose life is routine, or so we think, at first. He spends his free time at illegal parties in an abandoned warehouse and in the high school corridors with his friends. He is bisexual and he moves between boyfriends and girlfriends not knowing how to deal with the ever-increasing emotional abyss. He writes everything he feels on his blog, “Memories of a Teenager.”

Like many other teenagers, he went to a concert with his best friend. While there two hundred people were killed in a fire. During the first hours  afterwards, information was confusing and incomplete and after it was discovered what happened that night tragedy occupied everyone’s mind, so much so that Zabo didn’t find out about his friend Pol’s suicide until several days later.

Both events occurred the summer in which he turned 16 and Zabo, saw his adolescence unravel at the same time that he was prevented from exercising the last strands of freedom that he had left, before being pushed by force towards adulthood.

 

Without the support of his best friend and confidant, whose death affected him much more than he allowed himself to accept for the outside, he only found some relief in the blog Yo, Adolescente, where he could write about all those things that he could not to be drawn from within into the physical world. Unable to deeply understand what he feels or to put into words his loneliness, his desire and his fears are the only things that give some order to his efforts to fit into a world that is somewhat alien to him; a world that asks him to choose labels with which he does not quite fit.

“Yo Adolescente” is a story of loneliness while among others.  The narration goes through moments of greater solidity and clarity but there are other moments where it blurs or loses its rhythm, deviating into deepening details.

For director Lucas Santa Ana it was less important to tell a story in the traditional sense of the term, preferring to explore Zabo’s to expose a topic that seems to be forbidden to talk about like depression and depression. teen suicide.

Adolescence is a time of life that is usually approached in the cinema from a more adult position, behind a filter of nostalgia that erases or softens the complexities of self-discovery, especially when the answer is not something that easily fits what is expected. “Yo, Adolescente” gives us a stark and honest look at those years, focusing on a character who finds it particularly difficult to get along with what he wants to be and what he is expected to be, and with no one to talk about it with.

“ISAAC”— Challenges of Family

“ISAAC”

Challenges of Family

Amos Lassen

Ángeles Hernández’s “Isaac” is the story ofNacho and Denis  who meet again after sixteen years of not being in touch, and neither of them is who they used to be. They both have wives. Nacho and Martha are a perfect bourgeois married couple with good jobs, but they are not happy because Martha is unable to get pregnant. Denis and Carmen lead a more laid-back lifestyle, but live paycheck to paycheck and try to get enough money to open up a restaurant.


Denis offers his partner to be Nacho and Martha’s surrogate in exchange for the money they need to open the restaurant. Now both the two couples have to deal with secrets that were buried deeply inside Nacho and Dennis’ closet.

The film deals with the challenges of family and desire to have children while also exploring the complexities of the human condition and the forces that shape peoples’ lives. “It is about the hope for a society that no longer responds to the toxic system of values that has resulted from hegemonic masculinity.

Even though ‘Isaac’ has a layer of an LGBT film, it’s not an LGBT film, it’s an unconventional romance that doesn’t go where we think it will.

“BARE”— Eleven Naked Men Dancing

“BARE”

Eleven Naked Men Dancing

Amos Lassen

The documentary “Bare” is a celebration ofthe male body in all its complexity, might, and vulnerability. It chronicles the preparations for Belgian choreographer Thierry Smits’ provocative dance piece “Anima Ardens” (Burning Soul”) which features 11 male dancers, all of whom appear completely nude for the duration of the performance. The film features men of all shapes, heights, builds, and penis sizes. The dancers bounce, jump, roll, and wiggle around the pristine white backdrop and stage.

Director Aleksandr M. Vinogradov begins with auditions bringing us a unique dynamic that transforms as the film progresses. We see Smits asking his prospective dancers if they have read the performance description in full and understand that the piece is to be done in the nude. Several dancers are visibly surprised and uncomfortable as they begin crossing their fully clothed legs as Smits makes clear that he is choosing men based on their dancing ability and the audition scenes are a challenge as the top dancers distinguish themselves through technique, form, and confidence.

 The dancers must abandon all sense of squeamishness and prudishness. The choreography directly confronts notions of masculinity and sexuality as it brings men together to create a uniquely homosocial space in which the dancers writhe on the floor or connect their bodies to create pyramids of strength. Notions of queerness and masculinity are torn away as the dance numbers have the men explore one another’s bodies, riding them of all insecurity about brushing a colleague’s genitalia in the service of art.

We see images of birth and renewal as the dancers crawl between the bodies of other dancers. Smits implores the dancers to loosen up and discover new energy as two men merge to form a birth canal through which a third dancer wiggles and emerges. The dancers scream, moan, and squat as they use their bodies to evoke the physical feat of child labor.

There are scenes of the dance troupe between excerpts of the performances that are as revealing as the dance sequences with their deconstruction of masculinity and gender norms. From the auditions to the final performance, we are present atthe ends of insecurity as some dancers take time to emerge from their shells. As the rehearsals move toward opening night, the men become looser on stage and open up with each other. 

The excerpts of “Animus Ardens” come across as a series of aimless compositions. Even the dancers complain to Smits that the piece lacks narrative coherence. The film explores the tensions within the troupe and the personal explorations of the self each that dancer goes through as he opens himself to the world. Ideas of masculinity, gender, and sexuality, create something new and exciting.

Aleksandr Vinogradov attempts to free the male form, as well as abstract it. The film is political in the depiction of a world “overrun by right-wing and neoliberal” ideals, conflating the unabashed nudity with leftism. The claims of freedom do have weight. It is provocative yet at times it is boring once the initial shock is over. Re-contextualizing this imagery through manhood is the closest the nude dancing comes to provocative and we never know if that’s what the film is trying to show.

The dance sequences are beautifully shot, fluid, and a contrast to a blank backdrop. The white walls stand out from the stage. The close-ups of skin reinforce a vulnerability as if the film is trying to reinforce masculinity rather than separate men from gendered traits.

The penis is on screen constantly, moving independently of the dancer’s body, almost like its own character. Even the most sex-positive viewer may struggle to engage with a film that so heavily draws the eye here and that stops challenging how long we can look at the exposed body.

 Historic First 24/7 Live Queer Female TV Channel Premieres Globally Oct. 29th

 Historic First 24/7 Live Queer Female TV Channel Premieres Globally Oct. 29th

 

This femxle/womxn community includes lesbian, bi, trans female, gender non-binary, queer, etc…who have never had a committed live 24/7 TV channel for them ever before, especially globally – what an important announcement and impact!  Also, female women of color founders of the channel/network are available for interviews plus Exclusives.

 

 

The First 24/7 Queer Womxn TV Channel Premieres with OML on Revry 

 

Popular Femxle-Focused YouTube Channel Launches As Free Live TV Channel on the Revry Networks

Watch Promo
Oct. 29th, 2020 (Los Angeles) – Revry, the first global LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network, today unveiled the newest addition to its lineup of free linear TV channels with OML on Revry –the first 24/7 live TV channel exclusively catering to queer womxn (lesbian, bi, trans female, gender non-binary, queer, etc.). This announcement adds to Revry’s suite of boundary-defying queer entertainment on its apps and FAST channels (“Free Ad Supported TV”)–available for free globally to over 250+ million households and devices in over 130 countries.

The OML on Revry channel furthers Revry’s mission of 360 degree LGBTQ+ representation by highlighing queer female or femxle stories in a truly “always on” environment and free of charge. This unprecedented move expands on the company’s early 2020 unveiling of its new queer-focused live, multi-channel platform–a niche twist on the growing emergence of free virtual cable TV networks such as Pluto TV, Peacock, and XUMO. Initially launching with four FAST channels– including Revry News (the first queer news network)–Revry has expanded with today’s announcement of OML on Revry, the company’s first 3rd party FAST channel to live exclusively in Revy’s virtual cable TV ecosphere.

 

“I’m incredibly proud of the brand we’ve built and the relationships we’ve cultivated with the LGBTQ+ community for the last decade,” shares OML founder, Shirin Etessam. “What started as a portal to curate and share quality lesbian video content has become a powerful platform to launch, stream, distribute and promote some of the very best LBTQ+ content online. We are thrilled about our partnership with Revry as its multifaceted global platform will allow us to reach a greater audience and to make Femxle-driven LBTQ+ content accessible to an even broader audience. Truly a win-win-win for all of us: Revry, OML, and our community.”

Established in 2009, OML (formerly “One More Lesbian”), began with a simple mission: to become a hub for lesbian members of the LGBTQ+ community seeking visual representation in the media and to allow access to the extremely hard to find content on one platform. By 2020, OML has amassed millions of visitors to its platform and proud to serve over a half million YouTube subscribers, curating not only lesbian content, but quality content for a broader queer audience, inclusive of all female and gender-expansive viewers.

 

“Creating a ‘radically inclusive’ global network has always been in our DNA given the makeup of our women-led, majority queer and POC founding team,” said LaShawn McGhee, Revry’s veteran and lesbian-identifying Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder. “This new queer womxn-focused partnership with OML–a tentpole brand for the lesbian and queer female communities–is an exciting expansion of our mission to meaningfully create a place of belonging for everyone in our community. I’m overjoyed to offer a free, living and breathing space for queer female stories to be seen across the world. And launching the first queer female live TV channel is just the beginning–we’re excited to explore a long-lasting future with OML.”

 

OML on Revry launches with the brand new Original Series: the hysterical “socially distant” comedy, Dating ‘In’ Place–a series that follows two young women dating and falling in love during a global pandemic. Other popular launch titles for the OML on Revry channel will include: Crazy Bitches, staring Candis Cayne, Guinevere Turner and Cathy Debuono; the paranormal sci-fi drama, Passage, staring Nicole Pacent and Shannan Leigh Reeve; all three seasons of Gal Pals, the series dubbed as The L Word for the Broad Citygeneration and Girls Like Magic, directed by Eastsiders’ Kit Williamson.

 

OML on Revry (watch.revry.tv/OML) will launch October 29, 2020. Dating ‘In’ Place premieres November 1, 2020.

ABOUT REVRY

 

Watch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network. Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news, and exclusive originals all in one place! Revry is currently available globally in over 250+ million households and devices and on seven OTT, mobile, and Desktop platforms. Revry can also be viewed on nine live and on-demand channels and Connected TVs including: The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Dell, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo+, and as the first LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on Littlstar (available on PlayStation devices). The company–an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort–is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @revrytv, Revry.tv

“The Stonewall Generation: LGBTQ Elders on Sex, Activism, and Aging” by Jane Fleishman— Nine Elders

Fleishman, Jane. “The Stonewall Generation: LGBTQ Elders on Sex, Activism, and Aging”, Skinner House Books, 2020.

Nine Elders

Amos Lassen

Jane Fleishman’s “The Stonewall Generation: LGBTQ Elders on Sex, Activism, and Aging”, is a collection pf stories of nine elders in the LGBTQ community who came of age around the time of Stonewall. Through candid interviews, they share their loves and sexual liberation in “the context of the political movements of the 1960s, 1970s, and today.” Each of these has spent a lifetime fighting for our community and our liberation and our “right to live, love, and be free.” Of course this came with a price and that includes the  challenges that they faced about their sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, politics, disabilities, kinkiness, nonmonogamy, and other identities. 

Here are the struggles within the LGBTQ community:  not all problems came from outside. Here are stories of those whose lives were changed forever by Stonewall and who, also,  became agents of change themselves. These are stories that must be told and passed on from generation to generation.  This is so especially true now as we face what this country is going through now. We could, quite possibly, lose all of our gains. The stories are beautiful and often heartbreaking but THEY ARE our stories.

Fleishman provides commentary and historical notes making this a text of great importance.  We stand on the shoulders of those who came before and while I am a member of the elder generation, I never allow myself to lose sight ow how we got to where we are.

Reading the stories of the people who were there is something we cannot allow ourselves to ignore for to do is to ignore our own history and heritage.

“2 COOL 2 BE 4GOTTEN”— Felix and The Brothers

“2 COOL 2 BE 4GOTTEN”

Felix and The Brothers

Amos Lassen

Petersen Vargas’s “2 Cool 2 Be Forgotten” is the story of Felix Salonga (Khalil Ramos), a friendless teenager from a poor background who is determined to be the best in his class and elevate his status. Handsome and mysterious Magnus and Maxim Snyder (Ethan Salvador and Jameson Blake), half-American brothers, want to escape life from the Philippines and live in the USA. As Felix develops a relationship with the brothers and discovers desires that lead to dangerous consequences.

This is a coming of age movie set in Pampanga in the Philippines and follows the life of Felix, whose existence is shaken to its core when Magnus and Maximillian start going to his school.
Felix is especiallydrawn to Magnus, befriends him and infiltrates the private lives of the Snyder brothers. He interweaves himself to their dark and mysterious motives and at the same time, his interactions with them uncover desires within him that he has never confronted before.

The action takes place ten years after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Felix is upset about his poor living conditions and finds solace in a journal-writing exercise for his English class.
 At first, his journal is filled with cynical observations against his teachers and classmates. But when the Snyder brothers transfer to his school, he finds himself gravitating toward their mysterious personalities.

His interactions with them bring to the fore his new desires but then he learns that their lives  aren’t as glamorous as people think. Things spiral out of control when a sinister plot to murder the mother of the Snyder brother arises, leaving death and devastation all along its path.

“LISTENNG IN”— Eavesdropping

“LISTENNG IN”

Eavesdropping

Amos Lassen

In just eleven minutes, director Omer Sterenberg tells the story of a soldier in an Israel Defense Forces intelligence unit eavesdropping on a gay Palestinian couple. The complicated relationship between the two fascinates the soldier, and forces him to confront his own sexual identity.

As two men are talking on the phone, their conversation is being monitored by a young IDF soldier tasked with their surveillance. When their erotic bond becomes apparent, the soldier faces a moral dilemma. The film is a powerful look at conscience, the police state and the human voice.

The young soldier listens in on the conversations of Palestinians and he hears one gay couple’s conversations that fascinate him more and more. He realizes that he doesn’t know whether he should follow his feelings.

 

“THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY”— A Modern Fairy Tale


“THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY”

A Modern Fairy Tale

Amos Lassen

“The  True Adventures of Wolfboy” is the first feature by Czech-born director Martin Krejcí  and is the story of an outsider child desperate to fit in. Its message, the importance of embracing differences, is a valuable one for its most likely younger audience. 

Jaeden Martell is Paul, a 13-year-old afflicted with hypertrichosis; a rare condition which sees his entire face and body covered in hair. He lives alone with his father, Denny (Chris Messina). His mother abandoned them when he was born. Paul is tormented by bullies and self-loathing.  The film opens with the father taking his son to a fairground for his birthday so that Paul could reveal himself to the world in a dignified manner, in the hope that this will help him overcome his fears. This is an optimistic plan but it goes awry. Later that night, Paul discovers a package seemingly from his mother, with a map and an address in another city and he runs away from home to find her. 

Unfortunately we do not have a backstory and do not know how father and son have coped thus far. Therefore, we see as having just come to life. Adventures follow for Paul. A shady carnival impresario Mr. Silk (John Turturro), briefly turns the boy into an attraction, a transgender girl, Artisana (Sophie Giannamore) and Rose (Eve Hewson) come into the picture as does an eye-patched delinquent. Artisana and Rose join Paul in the search for his mother with Silk, Denny and the police in pursuit. 

While the plot is somewhat familiar (the youngsters rob convenience stores to fuel their road trip, the detective is always one step behind), there is a tone is of whimsy. Director Krejčíengages viewers in a world of harsh reality and vigorous imagination as it tells the story of a boy who fights the feelings of rejection he has felt his whole life.The narrative is structured as a seven-chapter fairy tale, as we witness the hero’s journey. Set in the poor American suburbs, this is not the typical middle-class teenage film with the commonplace message that it’s important to love yourself. The film explores identities both in the sense of the characters it depicts and the genres it encompasses – that step away from the norm. It’s a magical story set in a gritty environment, featuring heroic characters who are filled with frustration.

The film tackles social topics of this particular economic milieu (which is not often represented on screen), such as discrimination and the problems of growing up. The fact that these situations are approached honestly, amusingly and emotionally makes this film an important one to see.