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Indies, foreigns, docs, videos, revivals and shorts...

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last update 31.Mar.10
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Children of God
dir-scr Kareem Mortimer
prd Richard LeMay, Kareem Mortimer, Trevite Willis
with Johnny Ferro, Stephen Tyrone Williams, Margaret Laurena Kemp, Van Brown, Mark Ford, Jason Elwood Hanna, Adela Osterloh, Juanita Kelly, Craig Pinder, Aijalon Coley, Sylvia Adams, Christopher Herrod
williams and ferro
release Bah 10.Dec.09,
US Mar.10 miff, UK Mar.10 llgff
09/Bahamas 1h43

Closing film:
london l&g film festival
children of god This rare Bahamian film is a fascinating and bold exploration of sexual politics that touches fairly on several sides of the debate. And while it's thoroughly localised, it also has a lot to teach the rest of us.

Amid raging public debates about homosexuality in Bahamian society, Johnny (Ferro) is a Nassau art student who, after being attacked by a gang for his sexuality, flees to the island of Eleuthera to paint in peace. On the boat he runs into old schoolmate Romeo (Williams), a black gay man whose family is insisting that he get married. Also fleeing to Eleuthera is Lena (Kemp), who has caught an STD from her husband (Ford), a sternly homophobic preacher who clearly has a more personal problem.

These three characters--Johnny is white, while Romeo and Lena are black--represent distinct angles of the issue, as do their families and friends. Clearly, the Bahamas still grappling with this question, leaving most homosexuals in the self-hating closet, where they indulge in sometimes violent homophobia, both verbal and physical. Each of the various plot lines (and there are at least six strands) forces us to think about the issue from a variety of angles.

The film's low (locally funded) budget shows in the fragmented structure, which leaves us confused due to the large number of intertwined characters. But it's very nicely shot, and the great-looking cast members deliver relaxed, realistic performances even when the dialog gets a bit awkward. And there are several strong sequences along the way, from the harsh pronouncements of one preacher to the more-authentic Christian compassion of another. And the series of events between Johnny and Romeo are strongly endearing and sometimes realistically harsh.

Credit must go to brave writer-director Mortimer for even opening this door in a society that's so clearly divided on this issue. And along the way, he finds real emotion in the various stories, as some characters tentatively open up to people around them while others remain resolutely closed. This is a genuine attempt to grapple with sexuality on a scale rarely seen on-screen, and anyone who has ever struggled with the issue will find a powerful resonance here.

15 themes, language
26.Feb.10 llgff
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Eyes Wide Open
4.5/5     MUST must see SEE
dir Haim Tabakman
scr Merav Doster
prd David C Barrot, Rafael Katz
with Zohar Strauss, Ran Danker, Tinkerbell-Ravit Rozen, Tzahi Grad, Isaac Sharry, Avi Grainik, Eva Zrihen-Attali
strauss and danker
release Isr 3.Sep.09,
US 5.Feb.10, UK 14.May.10
09/Israel 1h31


london film festival
london l&g film festival
eyes wide open It's almost impossible to imagine anyone making a gay romance between two orthodox Jews. And yet this film is subtle and sensitive, and full of earthy honesty as it explores a seriously difficult situation.

Aaron (Strauss) is a well-respected orthodox butcher in Jerusalem, with a wife (Tinkerbell) and four young children. But locals start to question him when he hires a young stranger, Ezri (Danker), as his assistant. A gifted sketch artist, Ezri is quite clearly "different", and rumours start swirling. The problem is that Aaron is deeply attracted to Ezri, and finds himself struggling to continue suppressing his sexuality. But tension between them grows and, after their first kiss, Aaron knows life will never be the same.

The filmmakers tell this story with minimal dialog and tiny details that express the relationship in involving ways. Without exploiting the controversial premise, they create an honesty and complexity we rarely see on screen. Every element of this society gets a fair portrayal, from Aaron's quietly suspicious wife to the range of people around them, from understanding to disappointed to violent. And the performances are raw and natural, revealing sharp humour and layers of personality.

We really come to understand how these people live--their commitment to work, study, prayer, family and community--and how this gay relationship is seen as a threat to all of that. As the tension grows both between and around these two men, the characters become even deeper and more engaging, and their interaction sparks with real power.

There's also a real sense of the collision between religion and sexuality in the question of why God created lust. Older people believe lust exists to make us stronger when we resist; younger ones think it's part of who we are as humans. There's also the question of whether sin exists to help us become more righteous when we learn the lessons. And of course the key issue: what good is orthodoxy if you can't actually live?

Yes, this is potent material, but it's beautifully shot and edited to centre on the characters themselves, never becoming preachy, flashy or sentimental. It's a thoughtful exploration of the confusion, pain and, yes, joy that comes from conflict. And it challenges us to think deeply rather than just take someone else's word for it.

12 themes, sexuality
25.Feb.10 llgff
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Leo’s Room
4/5   El Cuarto de Leo
dir-scr Enrique Buchichio
prd Natacha López
with Martín Rodríguez, Cecilia Cósero, Gerardo Begérez, Mirella Pascual, Arturo Goetz, Rafael Soliwoda, Carolina Alarcón, Leonor Svarcas, César Troncoso, Sylvia Murninkas, Sebastián Serantes, Pablo Dive
release US 20.Jan.10,
UK 17.May.10 dvd
09/Uruguay 1h35

london l&g film festival
leo's room This is a remarkably gentle and astute story of a young man who slowly, gradually comes to accept who he is. It's beautifully understated and introspective, and deeply affecting.

Leo (Rodriguez) has been with his girlfriend (Alarcon) for six months but can't manage to have sex. When she breaks up with him, he starts to question himself, seeing a psychiatrist (Goetz) and exploring gay chatrooms, afraid to take the next step. In a local shop, he runs into old friend Caro (Cosero) who has her own issues, but both of them need a friend. Finally he meets a nice guy, Seba (Begerez), who patiently helps him connect with another man for the first time. And Leo's going to require a lot of patience from everyone.

Beautifully shot and infused with a realistic atmosphere and natural performances, the film sharply portrays Leo's confusion. He can't quite accept the truth that's right in front of him, perhaps because straight sexuality is so endemic in society (his mother casually comments that all she wants is for him to find a nice girl). But he is clearly more interested in men and doesn't know what to do about it.

Buchichio's screenplay quietly drops all kinds of issues into the story, from Leo's mother (Pascual) raising her sons on her own to the day-to-day issues facing 20-somethings trying to cope away from home. And the subplot surrounding the depressed Caro is surprisingly involving too, as they almost inadvertently bring each other out of their respective shells. All of the side characters show remarkable depth along the way; Leo's friends and family understand him better than he thinks.

But the film's most notable quality is its depiction of how Leo takes steady baby steps toward self-acceptance. "I'm still trying to figure it out," he says when he finally has his first real conversation with another man. Although Buchichio is strangely shy about sex itself, the film's minutely observed details convey the story in a way that's more revealing and involving than many other films dealing with the same issue. And in the end, the film almost feels like therapy for anyone who might be stuck in a rut.

15 themes, language, sexuality
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Plan B
dir-scr Marco Berger
prd Martin Cuinat
with Manuel Vignau, Lucas Ferraro, Mercedes Quinteros, Damian Canduci, Ana Lucia Antony, Carolina Stegmayer, Ariel Nuñez di Croce, Daniel Nahmias, Antonia De Michelis, Sergio Escobar, Miguel Neira, Froilan Contreras
vignau and ferraro release UK Oct.09 lff,
US Jan.10 psiff
09/Argentina 1h43

london film festival
london l&g film festival
plan b Likeable characters and an intriguing approach to the premise make this Argentine comedy thoroughly engaging as it pushes the boundaries of masculinity with a boldness the makers of HUMPDAY could only imagine.

Bruno (Vignau) is still sleeping with his ex, Laura (Quinteros), although she refuses to get back together. If he can't have her, plan B is to cause problems with her new boyfriend Pablo (Ferraro). United by their love for a Lost-style TV series called Blind, Bruno and Pablo become close friends--playful, thoughtful and remarkably transparent. And before they realise what's happening, they start having feelings for each other. But this certainly wasn't part of Bruno's plan, and if Pablo finds out that he's Laura's ex, it will jeopardise their growing friendship.

Filmmaker Berger gives the film a darkly comical Hitchcock vibe that keeps us on edge as to what might happen next. Through clever camera work and sharp editing, he catches witty looks and insinuating details, while Vignau and Ferraro create scruffy central characters who continually break stereotypes. These are macho Latinos who are shaken when they realise they might be falling in love with a man, and it's thoroughly entertaining to watch them try to assert their identities even as they're being eroded by reality.

Smart dialog and hilarious banter adds to the tone, but the best moments are conveyed with small gestures and subtle glances. These are men, of course, so talking about their emotions doesn't exactly come naturally, yet Berger and his cast makes sure we see everything under the surface. The result is that we begin to quietly root for these characters and find ourselves completely involved by the time the story reaches its brilliantly twisty finale.

This may be the first bromance with the nerve to go for broke. These guys realise that a drunken kiss is one thing, but a sober one could jeopardise their friendship. It could also lead to something rather wonderful. This is a charming, sexy and engaging romance that's packed with possibilities and implications. It's sweet and sometimes very touching, but also tough and realistic about the fear and disappointment these guys need to deal with in order to get on with their lives.

15 themes, language
23.Feb.10 llgff
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall