Movie Review: A PLACE IN THE CITY, USA, LGBT/Documentary

Full to bursting with bright color and dazzling city scapes, A PLACE IN THE CITY follows three stories of three people living with HIV in New York. Taking a dive into the personal and intimate lives of three brave individuals, we see many of the compelling issues the surround HIV- from how healthcare can innocently act to isolate the person living with HIV from their community, to how housing itself is a type of healthcare, to how the world of art and culture accepts artist living with HIV.

 

What sets A PLACE IN THE CITY apart from films of a similar nature is the tone- this is a not a heavy, stark or ominous work. It is bright, it is light, it is brimming with hope and it is nevertheless meaningful and informative. A PLACE IN THE CITY, has been excellently composed by directors Nate Lavey and Stephen Vider, and thoughtfully put together to consider the wide variety of people that can be touched by HIV. Now considered a chronic condition, HIV still holds massive stigma is society. Films like A PLACE IN THE CITY shed much needed light on the condition- and most importantly, the humanity, support and social movement behind it. A wonderful film to see.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

A PLACE IN THE CITY, 18min., USA, LGBT/Documentary
Directed by Nate Lavey, Stephen Vider

A personal and intimate look at how caretaking, housing, and family intersect with experiences of HIV/AIDS today. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: THE LOVE INDUSTRY, USA, LGBT/Documentary

This twenty minute documentary is a fascinating look into the world of professional online-dating profile writers. Following two different professionals who two drastically different methods, we see the ins and outs of a growing profession that targets people who want to find love online. Lisa Hoehn, takes a “gut” approach to profile ghost writing, reviewing people and tweaking what naturally feels best. She’s seen everything under the sun when it comes to online dating, from cheating lovers to terrible break ups. When she meets another online profile writer, who uses a more mathematical, data-based approach to his work, they completely clash- showing the love isn’t always easy to find- even when finding it is part of your job.

 

Our heroes are fascinating, engaging and loveable. The film paints an often humorous, honest and occasionally painfully familiar portrait for a vast numbers of people who have gone online to find their next partner. THE LOVE INDUSTRY is about a lot of things- our modern world, social media, niche business opportunities- but ultimately it’s about one incredible part of existence- the hurdles and rewards of meaningful human connection.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

THE LOVE INDUSTRY, 20min., USA, LGBT/Documentary
Directed by Matt Cusimano 

Lisa Hoehn has an unusual job: she makes a living ghostwriting online dating profiles for a large and diverse set of clients, eager to put their best foot forward in the labyrinthine world of social media. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: WHO I AM, UK, LGBT/Drama

A seventeen minute UK film from director Monika Wilczynska, WHO I AM follows Eli, a young transgender teenager coming to terms with their identity despite their devoutly religious and unaccepting family. Facing isolation and ostracization from her family and community, Eli makes the final choice that is right for her.

 

It may be said that this short him has an unrealistically happy ending- that not all stories end so concretely, so completely, or so triumphantly- but WHO I AM is story about visibility in a community. Eli’s journey is about her relationship with God, and the strength is takes to acknowledge that the flaws of unacceptance are not within God or spirituality- that is a flaw that lies within humanity.

 

People who see themselves in Eli’s struggle may argue that not all stories end as easily as Eli’s does in WHO I AM- but our hero’s story ends, essentially, right at the beginning of the rest of her life- a life free from the judgement of those who treat her poorly for who she is. WHO I AM is an important film to see- it gives a voice to many stories that go unheard, and for that alone- go see WHO I AM.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

WHO I AM, 17min, UK, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Monika Wilczynska

A coming of age tale about Elijah, a young transgender teenager from a very religious background, who has to try to reconcile their identity with their faith and their family’s expectations of them. With the help of anti-conformist Lisbeth and their friends, Elijah learns not to compromise their own integrity in face of prejudice and adversity. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: MASQUERADE, USA, LGBT/Drama

A ten minute historical film about the Old South and the trails of race and freedom, MASQUERADE tells the story of a young black couple, enslaved by their master. When the master makes an advance on his male worker, the young couple decide to flee for their own safety. While the master of the house throws a masquerade ball, the couple attempt to pass as an elderly rheumatic man and his black attendant. When the wife, Ninny asks if they should run away, her husband answers “Master wants to run away to the city, so I reckon it’s normal for folks to want to run away.”

 

MASQUERADE is a film about “running away” and “passing”- whether passing as white or passing as heretosexual, running to the city, or running to the north, all the characters are looking for something similar- freedom. This is a film about the trapping of society and how they push us all to extremes, it is a film the ripples with tension from the first frame to the final credits. Wonderfully cast and performed, and stunning in its design and cinematography- creating a full period piece is not an easy task in a short film. MASQUERADE is dedicated to all the people who “Passed” as a way to reach freedom- and to all those who could not. It is a powerful piece worth seeing.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

MASQUERADE, 10min., USA, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Andrew Hawkins

1848 Virginia. Slave couple Sam and Ninny execute an escape after their slave master George makes an unconscionable advance. ‘Masquerade, A Story of the Old South’ is an uncommon slave narrative, capturing the experience of both African Americans and gay people during this complicated time. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: THE LAST GIRL, 13min., Denmark, LGBT/Romance

This thirteen minute film from Denmark is a heartbreaking and moving story about a man in the last moments of living a lie. After a weekend spent with his friend Jesper, our hero realizes he is in love, not with his live-in girlfriend, but with his best friend. His partner is loving and doting, which makes it harder for him to reveal to her that he is gay. When he is able to do so, the situation turns messy and he leaves the apartment- to make a phone call to Jesper.

 

Wonderfully edited, with a style that creates the rushed sense of panic that courses through our hero, THE LAST GIRL has a searing, red-hot intensity to it. It is a strong film, with wonderful performances and keen and emotionally intelligent score. There is smoldering suffocating feeling in certain scene that accurately portrays the hero’s feelings of being trapped in his world.

 

A film about what happens when take the plunge and answer the call of the question “what if..?” THE LAST GIRL is an excellent, gripping film.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

THE LAST GIRL, 13min., Denmark, LGBT/Romance 
Directed by Bjarke de Koning

Life is not the same after a holiday with Jesper and there is no avoiding the truth now.CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: BEYOND THE WALL, USA, Documentary

This twenty-six minute documentary coming out of the USA by directors Jay Root and Todd Wiseman, BEYOND THE WALL takes a three-part look at the political crackdown on illegal immigrants and border crossings. Remarkably informative and incredibly educational and in depth for a film in only twenty-six minutes, BEYOND THE WALL breaks down the incredibly complex social and political platform of illegal immigration quickly and effectively. From explaining the social pulls like gangs and crime violence in Central America, to the drug smuggling supply and demand chain in North America, to the corporate desire for cheap, unregulated, undocumented labor in the North American employment sectors, we see how ingrained and complex the situation is really is.

 

BEYOND THE WALL must be highly commended for its research- it does its due diligence in researching many sides of the issue. It follows families fleeing gang violence, speaks to officials and police officers on the ground zero of Central American gang violence, talks to American ranchers who watch undocumented immigrants cross the border, and speaks to people in process of getting their documentation for citizenship, who have been exploited by the demand for undocumented laborers. A meaningful and impactful look at the gravity behind a hot-bed political issue, this is a film that goes beneath the surface and takes a look at the deeper issues that exist.

 

Watch BEYOND THE WALL. It is a film that will inform you, regardless of your political affiliation. For education alone it is a v

BEYOND THE WALL, 26min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Jay Root, Todd Wiseman

Get past the rhetoric and experience the reality of the U.S.-Mexico border. The film puts viewers into the shoes of undocumented immigrants, Border Patrol agents and a Texas borderland rancher to explore the nation’s most pressing border and immigration issues.

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

 

Review by Kierston Drier

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Movie Review: HEARING FILMS, Canada, Documentary

HEARING FILMS a eight minute documentary coming to us from Toronto Canada, by director Arsen Martyrosian, is a film following one man and his life-long love of movies, despite his visual impairment. Losing his vision early in childhood, Joe remains a movie fan, relying on descriptive video to experience his films the way one might experience an audio book. HEARING FILMS reminds us that we are all able.

 

One of the best things about HEARING FILMS, other than the excellent production quality and the loveable hero- is the reminder that cinema is for everyone. It is not exclusive to people who can see. As our hero recounts to us, films make him feel joy, feel happy, feel sad- he is not denied the emotional experience, simply because he hears the story instead of seeing it. A film the reminds us of the ability in everyone, and the resilience of those in the face of adversity, HEARING FILMS is a bright, upbeat story about an incredible man with an incredible passion for movies.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

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HEARING FILMS, 8min., Canada, Documentary 
Directed by Arsen Martyrosian

A story of visually impaired film enthusiast Joe Sidarose, that questions the perception of film as a visual medium and exposes the way descriptive cinema influences audience.

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

Movie Review: HAART KENYA, Kenya, Documentary

Stunningly beautiful, filled with a rich tapestry of color and textures, HAART KENYA is as visually moving as it is emotionally engaging and educationally necessary. This Kenyan film from director Danielle Da Silva is a work following HAART Kenya- an organization dedicated to helping support and rehabilitate women and children involved in the human trafficking trades in Kenya and East Africa. We follow two main stories of women who were victims of human trafficking, as well as hearing from the professionals at HAART who work on the front lines. Pairing with Photographers Without Borders, this film documents the struggles and pains that follow victims of human trafficking, and the treatment and support HAART can provide them.

 

HAART KENYA is not a depressing film. On the contrary, it is alright with hope. It is bright with the triumph and resilience of the human spirit. A film that fills your heart with anguish, but also with happiness. At the other side of surviving is thriving- HAART KENYA reminds us that we are not defined by are our tragedies- we are defined by what we are in spite of them. A beautiful film with a beautiful message, it is a documentary not to miss.

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

HAART KENYA, 13min., Kenya, Documentary
Directed by Danielle Da Silva

An organization dedicated to ending modern slavery (human trafficking) against women and children in Kenya and East Africa. Simas spent two weeks photographing their workshops, community, and grief-stricken survival stories.

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

Movie Review: ISIS WAS HERE, Iraq, Documentary

ISIS WAS HERE is a harrowing and dramatic documentary from Iraq, chronically the destructive force of ISIS and its path through one Iraq town of Qayyarah. Director Abdalrahman Karm takes a front-lines approach to the piece- putting the camera (and us) at the ground zero of tragedy.

 

We never find out entirely how ISIS gains control of the town, but we are able to follow the wreckage left behind their abandoned 2014 occupation- including their take-over of the local hospital, their isolation of students from schools, and their simultaneously systematic and senseless torture of the residents. We follow family after family touched by violence, death, destruction and horrendous acts of cruelty.  

 

What ISIS WAS HERE is able to translate is the loss of humanity brought about by terror and war. A film as raw and emotionally evocative as possible, it will remind you that behind headlines in newspapers, and behind statistics, there are human beings. Humans who feel love and loss and pain. ISIS WAS HERE is an important film and one that is not always easy to watch- but not everything important is easy to see. Nevertheless ISIS WAS HERE is a film to see.

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

ISIS WAS HERE, 25min, Iraq, Documentary 
Directed by Farman Abdalrahman Karim 

In 2014 the ISIS controlled Qayyarah Town, It Is near from the Mousll City in north Iraq. In 27 Aug 2016 Iraqi Army freedom the Qayyarah Town, after that every one Shocked when they see the tragedy stories in Qayyarah

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

Movie Review: WEEKEND WARRIOR, USA, Documentary

WEEKEND WARRIOR, a six minute documentary hailing from the USA by director Jonathan Harris follows Trey Bowen, a young daredevil with a passion for four-wheeling. Gentle and down to earth, at first glance Trey might not seem the type to strap himself into a massive machines and go airborne at forty miles an hour. But he is. WEEKEND WARRIOR tells the story of Trey, and his life-long pursuit of his great passion- four wheeling tricks. From creating a massive foam pit to ride his bike into, to building ramps to jump off of, there is nothing less than a labour of love that propels our hero to his end goal- to do a trick that only twelve people have done before- a full mid air flip.

 

What is most engaging about this piece is that it reminds us all that talent is rarely innately born into us. Talent is the product of commitment and passion. Goals, like anything worth having in life- is hard work. Trey is true to the films name- he is a weekend warrior. Something so many of those working a 9-5 must become to live their dreams. The thing that cannot be denied about Trey and his story is his infectious happiness and effortless joy. It is both enviable and inspiring to watch Trey achieve is dreams.

 

A film that boasts gorgeous cinematography and tells a feel good story for all ages, WEEKEND WARRIOR is a film for all who dare to dream.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

WEEKEND WARRIOR, 6min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Jonathan Harris

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