Film Review: WE DID NOT FALL FROM THE SKY, UK, Experimental/Relationship

WE DID NOT FALL FROM THE SKY follows a handful of transgender individuals living within the Hijra communities of India. Although India has passed a law acknowledging a third gender within their population, and Hijras, as a community have been recognized within social and religious communities with India for centuries, Hijras still face incredible discrimination in India and struggle to gain the basic rights offered to other Indian Citizens. A Hijra may identify themselves as a transgendered person, may be eunuch or an intersex person. Many Indians identifying as Transgendered may face discrimination of isolation from their community, and may seen refuge in the Hijra community. WE DID NOT FALL FROM THE SKY chronicles the life of several such women. Denied access to many jobs, our protagonists are often left with little options for work except for sex work or begging- often exposing themselves to terrible dangers in the process.

 

But the lives of our heroes, while often difficult, are far from hopeless. Each of them possess incredible talents, such as classical dancing, or  provided important roles during religious ceremonies, or have admirable aspirations, such as working for the their government. There is never a doubt of the boundless human potential that exists within them, despite the often difficult circumstances of their lives.

 

WE DID NOT FALL FROM THE SKY is a telling tale of it’s time. It acknowledges that crucial aspect of the hijra community not being one that has “suddenly appeared”, but one that has long since been a part of Indian history and culture. But it also showcases the changing tides of a future on the cusp of changing. WE DID NOT FALL FROM THE SKY showcases the life for the Hijra community now, but also points to the hope of what the future holds for the community as well. A future where this community has rights to land ownership, child-adoption, working freely without discrimination. WE DID NOT FALL FROM THE SKY is a story of hope, through the eyes of the women on the front-lines of movement to provide a better life for all people. A moving and important film. Many credits of acknowledgement to the amazing bravery of the cast, and the director Tabs Breeze and Georgia Oakley.

by Kierston Drier

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WE DID NOT FALL FROM THE SKY, 26min., UK, Experimental/Relationship
Directed by Tabs Breese & Georgia OakleyPurushi, Pratiksha and Shalu are three best friends and trans women struggling to find their place in contemporary Indian society, often via the only means of making a living available to them: sex work and begging. Our film is a highly stylised art piece – the live action is intercut with animation and dreamlike dance sequences.

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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.’

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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.

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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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