Film Review: IT GETS BETTER?, USA, LGBT/Experimental

A strong, experimental and dramatic piece about one man’s journey through love, sex and relationships, IT GETS BETTER? Is an emotional rollercoaster. We follow a man, slowly drinking himself into a more philosophical state of mind while he watches an online video of a young man making an “it gets better” confessional video. But does it? Our hero dives down into a long introspective journey of the love and loss that accompanies sexual awakenings.

 

What is most thought provoking about this piece, is that is focuses on love and relationships in the homosexual community in an age-bracket that is over the under-25 range. This is a demographic often overlooked. Our hero examines that excitement of new love, the thrill of new experiences and independence and the depression that inevitably follows the end of those first romantic entanglements. This rollercoaster of highs and lows is not exclusive to any community, regardless of orientation the rise and fall of love that is gained and loss is relatable to many- but what is special is that it is a reminder that this love and pain is not exclusive to the one area of any population. All who can love risk experiencing loss and the pain of that feeling can throw even the strongest spirits into emotionally complication. IT GETS BETTER? Is an examination of one man’s heartfelt and meaningful journey through the complex tapestry of human relationships. Highly metaphorical, deeply meaningful and composed with strong emotional cords, IT GETS BETTER? Has the feeling of watching a powerful stage play on screen. A deeply engaging film.

by Kierston Drier

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IT GETS BETTER?, 11min., USA, LGBT/Experimental
Directed by Stephen RiscicaAn older gay man is inspired to record a testimonial after watching a bisexual teenager’s video, assuring him that ‘It Gets Better.’

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Film Review: IN A HEARTBEAT, USA, LGBT/Animation 

Bright, colorful and full of love and laughter, this short animation is first love at its’ finest. A young boy at school has fallen hard for his first crush- smartly dressed and sauvly handsome, his crush doesn’t seem to know he exists. But our hero’s heart goes crazy every time the crush walks by- and terrifyingly so! For our hero’s heart literally takes matters into it’s own hands when it jumps out of his cheat and rushes into the crush, causing a string of hilarious hijinks and, of course, an embarrassing scene.

 

This film is special because it is just so relatable. Regardless of the gendered pairing of the couple- boy-girl, boy-boy or girl-girl, the scene is undeniably familiar to anyone who has ever fallen hard for the beautiful stranger. It’s a beautiful, simple and touching story of loving making us fools- and fools finding kindness. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, as Shakespeares’ players once said, and IN A HEARTBEAT reminds us why.

by Kierston Drier

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IN A HEARTBEAT, 4min., USA, LGBT/Animation 
Directed by Beth David & Esteban Bravo

A closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams

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Film Review: MASQUERADING: TO HELL AND BACK, South Africa, LGBT/Documentary

This bright film, equal parts charming and heart breaking, follows two well known South African Drag Queens. Growing up in the South Africa during Apartheid, when “cross dressing” was punishable by imprisonment, Samantha Fox and Sandra Dee faced intolerable conditions, horrendous persecution and heartbreaking treatment for living their lives in adherence to the way they felt they needed to.

 

Framed beautifully by letters being written to each other, the two recount their lives, their trails and hurdles- through poverty, homelessness, severe abuse and trauma, all to come through it on the other end, bigger, brighter and more beautiful.

 

Samantha Fox and Sandra Dee are now iconic in their communities, and known their strength and for their generous spirits. We follow them through an LGTB drag pageant show where performers battle for the title of Miss District 6 and Miss Gay Legend , where they are assisting in crowning the winners.

What is truly inspirational about this film, despite it’s excellent music and beautiful photography, is the exceptional performances of Samantha Fox and Sandra Dee. With unfailing grace, elegance and beauty, with unmatched charm and wit, they tell their stories, their histories and their journeys with compassion, composure and admirable positivity. They embody an inner strength that can only be found when one has tested the limited of all strength can endure. They are role models for women everywhere, for it is clear that they have risen above adversity to shine brighter in the face of it.

 

A touching film and a joy to watch. Heart wrenching, engaging and beautiful, many glasses are raised to these two beautiful ladies, and a bravo to director Sofia De Fay.

by Kierston Drier

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MASQUERADING: TO HELL AND BACK, 13min., South Africa, LGBT/Documentary
Directed by Sofia De FayTwo hilarious and eccentric old drag queens living in Cape Town, South Africa remember their lives and how they survived years of brutal and terrifying discrimination. The fifty year old drag queens remember the apartheid years, where up till 1994 in South Africa it was illegal to “masquerade” as the opposite sex.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: SUNLIGHT OVER WATER, Canada, LGBT/Drama

 

With bold cinematic choices and a strong narrative voice, SUNLIGHT OVER WATER tells the story of the tumultuous friendships between high schoolers Merit and Julien. Their friendship already heavily laced with sexual tension, Julien makes a sexual overture to Merit, who accepts, but is then confused when Julien is distant, cold and even aggressive afterwards.

 

Painfully relatable and authentic, this piece captures the fragile rollercoaster that is adolescence, offset by the compounded pain of loving in vain.  A fascinating dive into the world of young, confusing love, where tempers burn and passion paves the way for dramatic self discovery, SUNLIGHT OVER WATER offers no easy answers to the problems growing up creates. Perhaps that is what makes this film so appealing- it takes you into Merit’s world, while leaving Juliens’ unknowable- the way Julien appears to Merit. A compelling look into young love and the experiences that shape us into the people we become, SUNLIGHT OVER WATER is a beautiful and intense short.  

by Kierston Drier

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SUNLIGHT OVER WATER, 15min., Canada, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Jesse Gotfrit

High-schooler Merit discovers his sexuality through a tumultuous relationship with his friend Julien.

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Film Review: CHRISTINE, USA, LGBT/Coming of Age

Gorgeously shot with exceptional casting, CHRISTINE is the poignant story of precious young Christine who can’t beat her friend in an arm wrestling match, her friend decides to help her. At her request, he cuts her hair and shares his clothes with her, and in a few meaningful but speedy moments Christinee completely transforms- at least, almost. She still can’t seem to best her friend in arm wrestling- something deeply distressing to her.

The beauty of this film is that it accomplishes so much with so little dialogue. There is an excellence in this piece with its simplicity and yet profundity of meaning. Without over burdening the scenes with expositio the meaning behind the film is still perfectly conveyed- the testament of character is far more than skin deep. Christine’s friendship with her male counterpart has the almost tangible feeling of being founded within childhood and yet extending through it and into adolescence. With the nostalgic anachronistic feeling of a youthful summer day, this film captures the early moment of coming-of-age for Christine and she begins the journey of independence and self discovery. A film about knowing yourself, even amidst finding out who you are, CHRISTINE is a film will touch your heart while it makes you think.

by Kierston Drier

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CHRISTINE, 10min, USA, LGBT/Coming of Age
Directed by Jessica Adler

With the help of her best friend, Christine redefines her perception of strength and what it means to be herself.

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Film Review: ALAN WILLIAMS METAL ARTIST, UK, Documentary/Art 

ALAN WILLIAMS METAL ARTIST is a spectacular piece of cinematic documentary storytelling. Shining with incredible images from every frame and with fantastical creations waiting to leap out in every corner, Alan Williams carries us, the audience, along with him while he turns seemingly useless scrap metal in to utterly stunning works of mastery.

 

At seven minutes, to see so much in so small a time is an ambitious feat, but director Ben Cox is able to put together a brilliant documentary in that impressively small time frame. A film that sparks as much passion as the artist himself clearly has for his work, ALAN WILLIAMS METAL ARTIST is a captivating visual journey of art and beauty. A delight for the eyes and the artists’ heart.

 

by Kierston Drier

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ALAN WILLIAMS METAL ARTIST, 7min., UK, Documentary/Art 
Directed by Ben CoxAlan Williams: Creatures of the Deep offers an insight into the mind and work of the immensely talented Brighton sculptor Alan Williams, who turns scrap metal into amazing animal figures

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Film Review: MISSING PEACE, USA, Documentary/Drama 

A deeply controversial and highly moving film, MISSING PEACE follows two people, Chloe and Jeremy,  who suffer from Body integrity Identity Disorder- a disorder that compels them to deeply believe their sense of self is more actualized if they were differently abled. In Chloe’s case, all her life she has struggled with a deep desire to be unable to use her legs. In Jeremys’ case, (and he has hidden his identity for fear of backlash for his feelings) he has always longed to be hands-free.

For someone without BIID, wrapping the mind around the condition may be difficult, even concerning, due to the stigma attached to being differently-abled, but for Chloe and Jeremy, this condition goes much deeper than the surface. For our two heroes, the body they feel they belong in is one that is, respectively, missing hands or unable to walk. The body they currently have feels as though they should not be in it.

 

MISSING PEACE does what every documentary aims to do- open up and explore an area of life that may not be known or understood by the “everyman”. It attempts, with remarkable sensitivity, to capture the difficult and trying world of a human being at odds with society and its’ view on their own sense of self. Perhaps another reason why this film rings so powerful is that it attempts to rid itself of subjectivity. MISSING PEACE allows its focus to be the journey’s of the heroes, not any potential judgements that may be held by the filmmaker. Instead the audience is asked to makeup their own opinion. We see the damage and pain caused to our heroes because of the world they live in, while the viewer may still struggle to understand the reality the heroes live in. Ultimately the choice is up the viewer, but the story is no less important, no less meaningful- no less necessary to be heard. A film not for the faint of heart, it speaks to the bravery of Chloe, Jeremy and director Jenna Gartlan, to take on such a deep and emotional topic. Well done to all.

 

by Kierston Drier

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MISSING PEACE, 17min., USA, Documentary/Drama 
Directed by Jenna Gartlan

Missing Peace follows Chloe Jennings-White and Jeremy as they struggle with Body Integrity Identity Disorder. Chloe wishes to be paraplegic, and Jeremy wants to cut off his hands.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!