Category Archives: GLBT Film

“ADAM”— A Summer Fling

“ADAM”

A Summer Fling

Amos Lassen

Set in  the summer of 2006, 17-year-old Adam (Nicholas Alexander) is spending his last summer vacation with his sister Casey (Margaret Qualley). Casey introduces him to the LGBTQ scene in New York. When he meets lesbian Gillian (India Menuez) and is smitten. Gillian assumes he is trans male and Adam never corrected her. The two begin a summer romance despite the fact that Adam is a cis male. will the truth come out about Adam and his actual cis nature or will he simply allow the lies to continue pile up?

Rhys Ernst,  the director , is trans himself and he handles the film intelligently and with understanding and grace. Ernst understood Ariel Schrag’s original material and adapted it but the film is far from being what I would call a good film. It is about tolerance and acceptance but it just does not cut it as it should.

The basic premise of a cisgender male pretending to be a transgender man in order to date a lesbian just does not really work. On paper, the whole idea could honestly be considered transphobic and gross. The real reason the film works at all is because the director is trans and understand what that really means.

Adam Freeman is an awkward teenager and a senior in high school. He should be having the time of his life while enjoying those last few years of freedom before entering the real world. Instead, his parents think he’s depressed. With his best friend Brad (Colton Ryan) spending time elsewhere, Adam decides to call up his sister, Casey and suggest  that he spends time with her in New York. But while quality sibling bonding time is great, she’s a lesbian and the two of them don’t exactly hang out with the same crowd. Despite this, Adam decides to make the best of it. If he can meet a girl, he thinks, the trip will be completely worth it.

Casey is a lesbian activist who goes to bars and rallies for marriage equality. She has such an interesting love life, living with June (Chloë Levine) (who has an unrequited crush on Casey), while first dating Boy Casey (Maxton Miles Baeza), a transgender man,  and also pursuing Hazel (Dana Aliya Levinson), a transgender woman.

The plot of the comedy kicks off at a marriage equality march where Adam spots Gillian (Bobbi Salvör Menuez) across the way and goes against common sense logic. Rather than just forgetting her, he decides to make a move the next time he sees her in the hope that she might be bisexual.

Before long,  Adam finds himself at a party that Casey has followed Hazel to.  Gillian is there and Adam decides to approach her by spilling a drink on her. When Gillian makes the assumption that Adam is a trans man, he doesn’t correct her.

There’s a definite argument here about the transphobic stunt Adam pulls. At the same time, he learns what it means to be trans and is  able to call out Brad for misgendering a trans woman and not truly understanding transgender issues when a trans woman is murdered.

There is a lot of LGBTQ talent in this cast and we see that a lot of care went into the film, and even though Ariel Schrag isn’t trans herself, her script (based on her own book of the same name) is knowledgeable enough that the major issues are treated with sensitivity.

“Adam” is one of those films that works as a learning lesson and a conversation starter for transgender issues. Schrag’s original novel was met with controversy–especially amongst the trans community–and while some of the more contentious aspects have been softened for the adaptation, it wouldn’t be surprising if the film inspires similar disputes. While Adam seems almost like a rite of passage before we get more complex trans dramas in mainstream filmmaking, it missed opportunities. In Adam’s struggle to fit in and have his first romantic relationship, he may be exploiting those he’s befriended, but the film itself clearly extends a sympathetic invitation to go inside the humor and hardship of this community.

“RONNY AND I”— Good Friends

“Ronny and I”

Good Friends

Amos Lassen

There is not much I can say about “Ronny and I” except to find a way to see it. It is a touching short film, shot on an iPhone, and chronicles an original story between childhood friends.

Two best friends explore their sexuality and the depth of their bonds as one comes out, the other crosses oceans in search of a romance. In the end they come back together to find what they couldn’t manufacture anywhere else. It stars Adam Berry and Luke Humphrey and was directed by Guy Shalem.

I finished watching it not knowing if it was real or acting, I was that captivated by it. It is the perfect feel good film for when you have bad memories. I was thrown by howsurprised I was watching it and  how relatable the story is. I am a permanent fan.

 

 

“AMERICA IN TRANSITION”— Premiering on March 31 on Trans Day of Visibility on REVERY

March 29th Premiere on Revry
for
Trans Day of Visibility (3/31)

“”America in Transition’ is a compelling and powerful portrait of trans people surviving in a world built for their exclusion. André Pérez tells these stories with the empathy and understanding that only another trans person can.”
—Zachary Drucker, Producer of Transparent

America in Transition (AIT) is the award-winning, Sundance-backed documentary series that explores the community, family, and social issues of trans people of color across the United States – capturing real life for a veteran turned activist, an immigrant seeking home, a woman living with HIV healing from trauma, and a model navigating family life.

Transgender Filmmaker, educator and community Organizer, André Pérez, founded the Trans Oral History Project in 2008 motivated by the isolation he felt growing up in a military family in Virginia. Perez journeyed across the country to document the subjects of the series. Each of the four episodes explores one person’s story in depth, tackling intersectional issues such as HIV criminalization, living as trans in the South, family acceptance, trans exclusion from the military, and immigrant detention.

DIRECTOR’S COMMENTS
America In Transition (AIT) was initially inspired by my own experience coming of age in North Carolina and starting my transition as a youth in rural Vermont. I had questions about everything from health care access to navigating relationships, but I had no one to ask. Without role models or institutional support, I felt like I had to come to the city to find myself. I went on to found the Trans Oral History Project. Over the past seven years, I’ve interviewed trans folks across the country who express parallel stories of being told trans didn’t fit with other aspects of our personhood. How can you be trans and Muslim or black or Mexican or Southern? We found ways to reconcile the seemingly disparate parts of who we are.

2015 was heralded as the “transgender tipping point,” but 2016 has brought some of the most regressive civil rights legislation in modern US history. Trans people have become the targets of radical social conservatives who are leveraging fear and ignorance to create a social climate of increasing and unrelenting hostility. We are caught in a culture war, as Southern lawmakers fight the federal government in order to protect the supposed “right” for businesses (MS and NC), schools (TX), and even health professionals (TN and TX) to discriminate against transgender people. AIT uses character-driven storytelling in order to highlight issues of importance to trans people in marginalized communities.

At its heart, AIT is about how environments shape who we are. It will complicate notions of social change in underrepresented communities. This is a crucial moment to help people understand how trans realities differ based on identity, geography, and social context. The world is changing for the white, upper-middle class people we see on mainstream television, but trans people of color, immigrants, and working class families face a different world. AIT focuses on relationships as it explores where, when, and how change happens in a complex individual, a diverse community, and a divided nation.

DIRECTOR’S BIO
André Pérez is a Puerto Rican transgender filmmaker, educator, and community organizer. He founded the Transgender Oral History Project in 2008, and created traveling multimedia historical exhibit about transgender activism in 2009. Since then, he has presented workshops about storytelling and the transgender community numerous universities and conferences including Creating Change, Allied Media Conference, and MIT. After experiencing housing instability as a youth, Andre went on to help launch El Rescate and co-found Project Fierce Chicago, both grassroots transitional housing programs for LGBTQ youth.
In 2012, André served as Director and Senior Producer for I Live for Trans Education, a grassroots multimedia curriculum. He worked with a team of 20 transgender community members at varying skill levels to create four documentary shorts and accompanying interactive activities. I Live has reached over 15,000 people through online views, installations, live community events, and train-the-trainer sessions at conferences.
Between 2012-2015, André recorded over 500 interviews as part of StoryCorps, broadcasting 50 segments on NPR and WBEZ. He sat on the Board of Out at the Chicago History Museum and the Community Advisory Board of the Civil Rights Agenda. His work has been honored by the Trans 100, the Museum of Transgender History and Art, the Association of Independent Radio, and the International Independent Film Awards.
André continues to pursue his passion for sharing stories from communities whose voices have been shut out of traditional media. Summer of 2016, Pérez premiered Been T/Here on the inaugural cycle of OTV. After helping its founders launch Trans Lifeline into the national spotlight, André set out to make America in Transition, a sundance-backed documentary series explores community, family, and social issues with trans people of color across the United States. André is a sought-after public speaker and Social Impact Consultant who recently relocated to the Bay Area so that he can spend more of his off-time hiking and snuggling.


About Revry
Revry is the first queer global streaming network, available in over 50 million homes in over 100 countries, with a uniquely curated selection of LGBTQ+ film, series, and originals along with the world’s largest queer libraries of groundbreaking podcasts, albums and music videos. Revry is available worldwide. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Revry is led by an inclusive team of queer, multi-ethnic and allied partners who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @REVRYTV. Go Online to: https://revry.tv.

“PERMANENT GREEN LIGHT”— Self-Destructive Youth

“Permanent Green Light”

Self-Destructive Youth

Amos Lassen

Roman isn’t interested in sports or drugs, girls or boys so we might say that he is unlike teens. He’s not a nihilist, not religious, not depressive or suicidal. His goal is to just disappear and  dying is unimportant but he does care about the effect his death will have on others. “Permanent Green Light” has appeared several “best” lists probably because the effect this film has on the viewer who is not interested in death except for spectacular effect that it has on others.  This is second collaboration between cult novelist Dennis Cooper and filmmaker Zac Farley after bringing us their controversial first film, “Like Cattle Towards Glow”, a brilliant, disturbing and darkly rewarding experience. This is the story of a French youth who    decides to blow himself up, hoping to disappear completely in a beautiful fashion. 
Dennis Cooper has been actively writing since the 70s. He focuses on “sexual fantasy, existentialism, death, troubled teenagers, drug use, the inadequacy of language” and his prose is transgressive in nature and reflects a queer sensibility.

“Permanent Green Light” was originally inspired by the news story of an Australian youth who joined ISIS in Syria and blew himself up, but here, the handsome youth, Roman (Benjamin Sulpice), who lives in an unspecified French suburb of stark walls and blank spaces, has no political alliance or much discernible emotion or clear sexual orientation. The style is slow, austere and intimate. Cooper does. Not see himself a visual person and therefore he collaborates with Farley. The film while austere and elegant rewards us each time we see it and each time with a different reward. It both fascinates me and offends me. In this way it is like Roman who is attractive with dimples, sensuous lips, and beautiful eyes and a bit of a tease. He sends his best friend Ollie (Julien Fayeulle) to a fair alone, and we next see Ollie at the fair with his face streaming with tears. Another friend suggests they get high together and Roman asks just to take the drugs home to use by himself. We have scenes that involve a collapsed building, a piñata, a suicide vest, and a purveyor of explosives and they gradually lead to Roman’s radical self-annihilation. Along the way, three other young people do away with themselves, who Roman is aware of.  Roman enlists a group of friends to help him blow himself up but not as an act of terrorism, nor out of suicidal despair, but simply because he wants to die in a large spectacle that leaves no trace of himself behind.

This is an extraordinarily quiet and thoughtful movie filled with  the culture and feeling of childhood and adolescence, as well as a highly successful collaboration. “Permanent Green Light” is as subversive as Cooper’s most dangerous works of fiction, though it lacks any of the overtly shocking Cooper staples such as killing sprees, cannibalism, necrophilia or extreme fetishists. Cooper’s brutally honest, eerily erotic prose tends to portray pretty, troubled young guys and the predators who want to inflict merciless harm onto their bodies. Cooper, as a teen, was inspired by the work of the Marquis de Sade, and wanted to tap into the dysfunctional family dynamics, reckless drug taking and rampant horniness that consumed his life. He admits that he began writing with an absolute “purity of intent

The premise for Cooper and Farley’s film introduces a notion perhaps much more fearful than an unlikely Western recruit to ISIS terror: a person who wants to explode but doesn’t want to die, and above all doesn’t want anyone thinking he has died when he blows himself up… in public.

Unlike most of the young men Cooper has constructed in his transgressive fiction, none of these characters are objectified or preyed on by older, predatory types. In fact, none appear to even remotely think about sex, except for one sad guy pining for Roman. Where the film does fit into Cooper’s larger body of work is in its deep respect for the complexities and desires that are part and parcel of the teenage experience. Teenagers are just seen as being this mess. If Roman was 35 years old, the audience would go: ‘that guy has mental problems’. Because as soon as you get past adolescence, there’s this ‘you have to be an adult now’ expectation. Tangentially come the political aspects of the film. When Roman meets a girl, León, who collects suicide vests, he initially rejects the option of using something from her collection to obliterate himself — it would be, he says, “too famous.” León herself is not a terrorist, outspokenly claiming that her interest is merely in stockpiling the vests, not detonating them.

Shot largely in close-ups, Permanent Green Light is told through the faces of its teenagers. The way they look at one another, at their phones, at the walls of a club while they dance, express both an emotion and a confusion that Farley-Cooper capture in dialogue at several key moments, when their young subjects seem capable of opening up. The film painstakingly avoids condescending to its adolescent characters: we are as incapable of understanding them as they are of understanding themselves.

Pioneer of Queer Cinema Returns to Finish Trilogy “SWAN SONG” Starring Udo Kier

 


Pioneer of Queer Cinema Returns to Finish Trilogy “SWAN SONG” Starring Udo Kier

March 5, 2019 – One of the pioneers of queer cinema, Writer/Director Todd Stephens (“Edge of Seventeen”, “Gypsy 83”, “Another Gay Movie”) is completing his Ohio trilogy with “Swan Song,” a fictionalized memoir of a flamboyant hairdresser in 1980’s small town Sandusky.

UDO KIER / 30 NCU ULUSLARARASI ISTANBUL FILM FESTIVALI IKSV FOTOGRAF MUHSIN AKGUN RADIKAL

“Mister Pat was a revelation; out, loud and proud in a very different era,” says Stephens, who was 17 when he first saw the older man on the dance floor at The Universal Fruit and Nut Company in Sandusky, Ohio. “My trilogy is inspired by my Ohio hometown. The first two films were about trying to escape it, and the last is about embracing where you came from.”

Legendary actor Udo Kier (“Downsizing”, “My Own Private Idaho”, “Andy Warhol’s Dracula”) has signed on to star as Pat. Kier says, “After 50 years in the business, this is one of the best scripts I have seen.” Stephens remarks, “Udo Kier has been one of my idols all my life. I am thrilled to have someone play the character who can imbue it with such authenticity.”

udo kier, munich, 28.6.2014
FOTO: FRANK BAUER
high res data

Also joining the team is producer Stephen Israel (“Boy Culture,” “G.F.B.”, “Miles”) who says, “Todd and I have been talking about working together for over ten years. Between us, I think we’ll make something world class that we can be proud of – and makes a contribution to LGBTQ cinema while preserving an important part of our history that’s in danger of being forgotten.”

Stephens launched a Kickstarter campaign at kickstartswansong.com and plans to shoot on location in Sandusky in May. “’Swan Song’ is a love letter to a man who changed my life by always having the courage to be fabulous,” says Stephens. His film “Another Gay Movie” was one of the largest indie releases of the decade and spawned a successful sequel. “Edge of Seventeen” is consistently listed as one of the most influential queer films of all time.

If you’re just coming out or part of a generation that isn’t being represented, you can still participate in helping this film get made at kickstartswansong.com by March 7th.

“I’M FROM DRIFTWOOD”— Queer Life and Love

“I’M FROM DRIFTWOOD”

Queer Life and Love

A compilation of true stories by gay people from all over the world. The video series consists of several 2-4 minute original video stories filmed with a single camera in a variety of locations. They depict intimate first person accounts of what it’s like to live as a member of the LGBT community.

Nathan Manske’s I’m From Driftwood non-profit has spent the last decade producing, curating, and publishing first-person stories from the entire spectrum of the queer experience – from love, coming of age, and parenting, to race, homeless youth and gender nonconformity.

As Manske points out, when I’m From Driftwood launched in March of 2009, there was no federal hate crimes legislation, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was still in effect, and federal marriage protections were nearly a decade away. The world has changed dramatically since then and the organization has brilliantly documented the journey every step of the way. Since launching, it has published 576 Video Stories that have received over 17 million YouTube views.

To celebrate the big 1-0, we asked Nathan to put together a small sampling of his favorite vids and to comment on them.

 

Brian Sims

Brian Sims was one of our earliest stories. I first read about Brian on Outsports. Brian lived in Philadelphia and Marquise, my videographer at the time, lived in Philly too, so I figured it was worth a shot to reach out to him. I simply emailed him, he responded, and we set up the shoot. Unbelievably nice and genuine guy.
Don Bell

In 2016 we launched a program called “What Was It Like?” which features stories of LGBTQ elders. Instead of sharing one story, like our normal Weekly Video Stories, the storyteller shares 5-8 stories. We filmed Don in Chicago and simply adore him. We still text each other to check in and see how we’re doing.
Pearl Bennett

Also part of our “What Was It Like?” series, this story from Pearl is the story I share the most when I do presentations at schools, corporations, etc. Everyone becomes enamored with Pearl. And with a story about Fire Island in the 90s and the moment where you decide to live your truth, what’s not to love?
JC Brown

We work with each storyteller to find a story and help them craft it before we start filming, and JC knew from the first moment we spoke that he was going to share a story about racism towards Asians in the gay community, and had the examples to back it up. It led to lively discussion everywhere the story was shared.
Maria Tridas

“Hey, I’m Maria. Oh yeah, I happen to like girls. I happen to be intersex. I happen to be a Latina. I happen to eat pizza.” Maria had such an effortless and charming way of incorporating education about what Intersex is into her story. We had an event spotlighting people who are Intersex and she told the audience that there are as many intersex people as there are redheads.
Erin Busbee

Erin’s (they/them pronouns) story is so comforting to watch because they give examples of how comfortable they are with being gender nonconforming from a young age and how they’ve embraced it and enjoy being part of all genders. Also their dad is beyond amazing.
Scott Blair

There’s a reason Scott’s story is our most-viewed ever. While he’s riding in the car with his mom, he comes out to her. “I feel like driving this car into a tree,” she says. He responds, “Can you let me get out of the car first?” After he’s sent to conversion therapy, he shuts down the therapist with intelligence and smart retorts. You want Scott on your side of an argument.
Charlie Poulson

I’m grateful any time our stories can start conversations or touch on things that aren’t discussed often and as Charlie says at the end of his story: “I think this story is important to share because not very many people have conversations about transitioning past surgery.”
Kelvin

Some of my favorite types of stories touch on what it’s like to be LGBTQ+ in other countries. I really like Kelvin’s because part of his story makes it feel like there are similarities between our struggles no matter where we are, but also how there are nuanced differences based on the culture.

THE HUMP FILM FEST OF PORNOGRAPHY

DAN SAVAGE knows a lot about sex, so much so he has being giving advice about it in his SAVAGE LOVE column for almost 30 years now. He has also said that amateur porn claimed is the real reason that the internet was invented, and the reason why in 2005 and he created extraordinary HUMP Film Festival so that he could share his passion

He coordinates the annual HUMP PORNOGRAPHY FESTIVAL, which is made up of clips of up to five minutes on any pornographic topic, submitted by viewers. Winning submissions are shown in theaters around the United States, providing a unique experience as straight, gay male, bi, lesbian, and fetish porn are all shown together, one after another. While it’s not a strictly queer porn film fest, the curated selection of films always seems to be quite like one.

The years videos include Campground : “A horny Boy Scout goes on a nighttime hike in the woods. Inspired by the gay erotic film Pink Narcissus.” ; Task Master : “An obedient sub takes the term ‘Dirty Boy’ to a whole new level. Chatting online can get messy” ; Troughman : “A man tries to build up the courage to ask another man to piss on him in the Leather Stallion restroom trough.”

From March 1st – 3rd the Hump Film Festival will be at one of its regular venues O CINEMA IN MIAMI : you can find a complete list of all the cities it will play at HTTPS://HUMPFILMFEST.COM/#LOCATIONS-2019

Locations & Tickets
2019 – 14th Annual Fest
Albuquerque – January 31 – February 2
Palm Springs – February 8 & 9
Bellingham, WA – February 15 & 16
Los Angeles – February 28 – March 9 GET TICKETS
Columbus, OH – March 1 & 2 GET TICKETS
Miami, FL – March 1 – 3 GET TICKETS
Long Beach, CA – March 6 GET TICKETS
Eugene, OR – March 13 – 16 GET TICKETS
Nashville, TN – March 27 – 28 GET TICKETS
Manhattan – March 29 – April 4 GET TICKETS
Chicago – April 5 & 6 GET TICKETS
Brooklyn, NY – April 6 GET TICKETS
Cleveland, OH – April 13th GET TICKETS
Washington DC – April 25 – 27 GET TICKETS
Madison, WI – April 27th GET TICKETS
Seattle, WA May 3 – 4 GET TICKETS
Providence, RI – May 4th GET TICKETS
Portland, OR – May 4th GET TICKETS
Pittsburgh – May 10 – 11 GET TICKETS
Philadelphia – May 17 – 18 GET TICKETS
Bend, OR – May 18th GET TICKETS
Montreal – May 23 GET TICKETS
Toronto, ON – May 25th GET TICKETS
Baltimore – TBA
Minneapolis, MN – TBA
Sacramento, CA – TBA
Victoria BC – TBA
Vancouver BC – TBA
Burlington, VT – TBA
Kansas City, MO – TBA
Denver, CO – TBA
Missoula, MT – TBA
Saskatoon, SK Canada – TBA
Portland, ME – TBA
Austin, TX – TBA
Tucson, AZ – TBA
New Orleans, LA – TBA
14th Annual HUMP! Film Festival Films!
Paint Party
This gang buys a few gallons of paint. With apologies to their landlord.

Bloom
As two lovers stream through each other’s bodies and consciousness, orgasmic hallucinations bloom through their synchronized minds.

Campground
A horny Boy Scout goes on a nighttime hike in the woods. Inspired by the gay erotic film ‘Pink Narcissus’.

Jump Start My Love
This kinky couple connects for a midday power boost. Sometimes it’s watching home movies together that leaves you the most satisfied!

Unicorn
This couple has a different way of looking at love and sex, elegantly conveyed through our shared, human experience.

My Cathartic Release – WINNER, BEST KINK
Take a peek into one woman’s masochistic journey to find a sweet sweet release.

Task Master
An obedient sub takes the term “Dirty Boy” to a whole new level. Chatting online can get messy.

Spin
Your favorite middle school game has turned into a big basement bang fest. You can almost hear the parents yelling, “What’s going on down there?”

The Punishment
In this stylish BDSM film, a couple returns home after a night on the town to explore the arts of dominance and submission. This female lead takes control of her kink by initiating her punishment by being a brat and misbehaving.

Porn Yesterday – WINNER, JURY AWARD
A look at how terrible adults were at hiding porn and how good we were at finding it.

Whatever Floats Your Goat – RUNNER UP, BEST HUMOR
It’s never a dull day in the dairy room, but when a strange new breed of goat shows up this morning, our milkmaid will have to work extra hard to get that milk!

Please – RUNNER UP, BEST SEX
Consent is sexy. Here’s the proof. A deep exploration of rough sex.

Troughman – WINNER, BEST HUMOR
A man tries to build up the courage to ask another man to piss on him in the Leather Stallion restroom trough.

Luminous Lust
A real-life couple boldly bring the audience into the most intimate parts of their lives, sharing with the camera how the couple fell in love, what about their partner turns them on, and how they first met.

Home for Lunch
Coming home from work for lunch, a boyfriend finds something even more delicious.
to fill up on.

The Wheel of Fortune – RUNNER UP, BEST KINK
Five strangers are bound by flesh and metal. Only their release can set them free.

Extreme Wild Fuck… – WINNER, BEST SEX
“Extreme Wild Fuck with Petite GF – Amateur Couple Mountain Top Fuck Fest.” When you set out for a hike, you never know what you’ll “come” across on top of the mountain.

Insomniacs
Hotel. Night. While everyone is asleep, the cursed creep is out, as hungry as ever. Infrared cameras, outdoor exhibition and sloppy hole.

Optic Perve
Put on your spectacles, open your lids, and lend us your gaze. You’ll want to ogle this cornea copia of optical illusions and private eyes!

All of Us
All of Us explores the multidimensional story of two lovers sexual and emotional relationship expressing their passions for pain and pleasure in sweet soliloquies.

Around the World in 80 Lays – WINNER, BEST IN SHOW
A young couple stuck in a sexual rut decides to explore Planet Earth AND BEYOND! Sometimes the greatest sexual journeys require frequent flyer miles.

“TREMORS”— Shaky Foundations

“Tremors” (“Tremblores”)

Shaky Foundations

Amos Lassen

“Tremors” is set in Guatemala City where 40-year-old Pablo (Juan Pablo Olyslager) has what is considered in his Evangelical Christian community to be the perfect life: he is married to a beautiful woman (Diane Bathen) and father to two lovely children, part of a loving family, financially secure and professionally successful. He is known and respected as a “good man”. However, when he falls in love with a man named Francisco (Mauricio Armas Zebadúa), his image is shattered. As volcanic tremors shake Guatemala City, the foundations of his and his family’s entire worldview are shaken to the core.

He becomes judged as a sinner and is even accused of being a pedophile. He is fired from his job and banished from seeing his children over concerns for their safety. His shares an apartment with his lover provoking disgust and his parents and brother implore him to renounce his newly realized sexuality as sin. Even his former house staff turn against him in order to keep their jobs. Pablo is totally ostracized from his former life, so he agrees to enter a program with the Church designed to help “heal” and cure him of his “abnormality”. This is a course of quasi-religious therapy alongside other sinning males and it involves everything from testing his faith to abstinence, injections in intimate places to wrestling to recover his “masculinity”.

Guatemalan director and screenwriter Jayro Bustamante looks at how non-heterosexuality can clash with tradition and religious beliefs. The film immerses us in an Evangelical Christian Guatemalan community where the reaction to Pablo’s revelation and his subsequent treatment reveals a society that is deeply repressive.

Juan Pablo Olyslager’s Pablo, reflects on his situation  and gives new meaning to the role of faith and commitment to his family, wife and kids and the need to follow through his desires and become his true self; a feeling of guilt and shame and that of liberation; of internalizing the judgements of his peers and wanting to confront them.

Director Bustamante also explores ideas of masculinity, the male form and stereotypes of homosexuality, questioning, like Pablo’s family and Pablo himself do what makes a man. There are never any real earthquakes in “Tremors” — only a slight shaking of the ground. This doesn’t stop everyone from panicking, however; they don’t know that it’s insignificant, and as far as they’re aware, this one could kill them. The tendency to exaggerate every personal decision like it’s the end of the world runs throughout the film. It is a sad and wise tale, that shows how limiting homophobic societies can be. 

Pablo is a family man, a man of the church, and a consultant at a major firm. These things make him loved and respected, but he’s also a homosexual who has left his wife and children to stay with lover Francisco. This reveal doesn’t come until about forty minutes into the start of the film. His wife, Rosa, blames herself, being told that queerness is a result of external forces  such as the  lack of fellatio but his children know better. They miss him and force him into a difficult decision: is it better to pursue your own happiness at great personal cost, or to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others? This decision gives the film a melancholic, heartfelt quality.

Pablo’s wife and family aren’t villains , they are just misguided. His mother believes that the timing of these tremors cannot be a coincidence, using “God’s punishment” as further evidence that her son’s love for Francisco is one of sin. In reality though, these seismic events hint instead at the fragility of the upper class and outdated views on sexuality that threaten to tear Pablo’s life apart.

In the film, Bustamente takes a mature approach to the now well-worn themes found in other recent gay conversion stories. Pablo’s inner conflict is engaging and does not go the way of melodrama. We root for him and hope that everything will be okay.

“FIREFLIES”— A New Life

“FIREFLIES”

A New Life

Amos Lassen

Directed by Bani Khoshnoudi and set in the port of Veracruz,  “Fireflies” tells us the story of young Rami (Arash Marandi), who flees from Iran and travels on a cargo ship bound for Mexico.

He will face a new language and a new culture. He. meets Leti and Guillermo and they create a strong bond that helps him in his new life. What the director is trying to do is to with current issues in order to insure the relevance of the film today.

He makes us feel like Rami who is a vulnerable character, lonely and far from home, with barriers that he will have to be overcome. And to this end, “Fireflies” works wonderfully,

Marandi’s performance, achieves empathy with the public and causes us to fight his battles with him. This is a film with a clear and powerful message.

“AND THEN THERE WAS EVE”— Loss and Acceptance

“And Then There Was Eve”

Loss and Acceptance

Amos Lassen

Director Savannah Bloch’s “And Then There Was Eve” looks at the explosive fallout of LA photographer Alyssa (Tania Nolan) when she learns that her husband is  transgender. Alyssa is a successful photographer who wakes up to find her apartment ransacked and her husband Kevin (Jonathan Flanagan) missing, along with photographs and any evidence of their marriage. Seeking answers, Alyssa turns to her husband’s colleague Eve (Rebecca Crowl), a talented jazz pianist who enables her to understand Kevin’s battle with depression and to eventually accept his absence. While getting to know Eve at such a troubling time, Alyssa is surprised to find herself falling in love again. The growing bond between Alyssa and Eve is rushed and at times plays out like a montage. The film’s strength is the discussion it’s likely to bring about. We get a chance to hear about to what extent our gender defines who we are and how it affects the people around us. We also see how a long-term relationship can chip away at one’s identity.

The cast is brilliant all around. Nolan dives into the depths of denial with conviction, but it is Crowl who steals the show. The film is quite provocative and problematic. The second act of the film focuses on the relationship between Eve and Alyssa with the  suspense yielding to their relationship. We get clues of what is to come and I understand that it is something of an obligation to accept what is happening before us. Crowl has a charming ease that elevates the film to something truly special. Her Eve is never allowed to be a caricature and we see her as a fully realized human.

There is a scene early in the film where Eve offers support to Alyssa after her in-laws have turned their backs on her. The two women clearly need each other but have no idea how to ask or what to ask for. It is here that the audience is asked to follow Eve and Alyssa on their journey.

This is a film about loss and acceptance. While the film might not resonate with many viewers when it comes to their direct experiences, I have a feeling ,many will see some version of themselves on screen. This is an important film that I urge you to see..