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

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

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: 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

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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!

Film Review: PLAYGROUND, USA, Documentary/Society 

A heart wrenching story of a community reeling after the death of a preteen boy, shot by a police officer in a local park, PLAYGROUND is a seventeen minute short that showcases how one community copes with loss by banding together.

 

Strong and poignant, PLAYGROUND follows Brick City Community Theatre near the Lakeview Terrace public housing project in Cleveland. The community around the theatre puts on productions about the local life, involving both youth and senior community members. PLAYGROUND follows one such production, an original created around the recent death and uses the trauma to empower and support the community members.

 

A deeply touching and moving piece, with excellent composition and execution, PLAYGROUND will remind us all of our fundamental similarities, are basic need for human connection and the transformative and healing power of the arts. A bow of credit to the directors Drew Dickler and Jakob Hochendoner.

 

by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

PLAYGROUND, 17min., USA, Documentary/Society 
Directed by Drew Dickler

Afternoons at 4, residents from Lakeview Terrace, a public housing project in Cleveland, gather at their community center to transform their life stories into art and their grief into understanding.

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

Film Review: COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK, USA, Documentary/Sci-Fi

 

 

Enter that incredible, rich, vibrant world of COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK. Directed by Hendricksen Armand, this movie dives into the tapestry of talent behind Cosplay. Cosplay involves dressing up like a well known character from a book and TV show, usually (But not exclusively) found within the anime media community. Think Sailor Moon, DragonBall and Pokemon- and those are just major well known shows. Other shows or movies  including well known action heroes are often included as well.  Conventions that create hubs for fans of the shows often have attendees that dress the part of their favorite characters. What is incredible about this is that the costumes are largely created by attendees. Often elaborate and time consuming, the creative lengths attendees go to to create larger-than-life costumes and true adherence to character is inspiration.

 

Such incredible works and labors of love are not without issue, however. COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK follows a handful of dedicated and talented cosplayers as they discuss making their costumes, but also some of the concerns that follow them at conventions. They are often mistaken at conventions as paid performers, touched or groped without their consent and made to feel uncomfortable, often because their work is so believable. Our talented cosplayers also discuss the sexual overtones and undertones often associated with their work. Since the outfits of their characters are often sexualized, it is difficult to dress the part without facing the same reaction.

COSPLAY: BEHInd THE MASK must be commended on it’s open and honest portrayal of cosplay, with all its’ joys and concerns. Bright, colorful and fun, while still being deep, meaningful and thought-provoking, this is layered and fascinating film. A special shout out must be given to the key cast, as they are all instantly loveable, and all remarkably gifted both as creators and performers. A film to see!

by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK, 20min., USA, Documentary/Sci-Fi 
Directed by Hendricksen Armand

A look into the life of cosplayers who try to shatter the boundaries of reality by transforming themselves into characters from comic books, TV shows, and movies.

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

Film Review: LEAD THE PARADE, USA, Documentary/Society 

A sharp, but compassionate look at the world of disenfranchised youth, LEAD THE PARADE is a fifteen minute short coming to us from director Omino Gardezi. Packed with meaning in every frame and brimming with the emotional reality that is life for the underprivileged, LEAD THE PARADE showcases groups like New York’s Partnership with Children, a community organization that works with children to help lift them out of otherwise difficult situations.

 

One cornerstone of this piece is the concept of poverty equalling trauma. With massive numbers of children in urban settings living within poverty-stricken conditions a generation is at risk.

 

LEAD THE PARADE is a film that approaches these difficult concepts with sensitivity and faces the complex problems with openness. There is, in fact, a remedy for the trauma caused by poverty: Healthy and positive relationships with adults. LEAD THE PARADE is a strong film, filled with hope, compassion and positivity, but beyond that, it is a film with an uplifting message; Change is possible. It starts with us.

by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

LEAD THE PARADE, 15min., USA, Documentary/Society 
Directed by Omino Gardezi

In Lead the parade, The filmmakers embark on an intimate? ?conversation with Neuroscientist, mental health Specialists Social workers, Economist, Government and thought leaders to explore the impact a child’s early environment on their cognitive, social and emotional development, it will be? ?premiered on the Martin Luther King Jr. day and will be available for viewing at Lead the Parade.org

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