BFI Flare festival – films 9 & 10

Yet another day of two films, but after this there are only two more films to go.

First up this evening was an Australian film Holding The Man which was based Timothy Conigrave’s cult-classic and hilarious memoir. Apparently this was also the inspiration for an award winning stage play too which predated the film.

Tim (Ryan Coor) and John (Craig Stott) fell in love while teenagers at their all-boys high school. John was captain of the football team, Tim an aspiring actor playing a minor part in Romeo and Juliet. Their romance endured for 15 years to laugh in the face of everything life threw at it – the separations, the discrimination, the temptations, the jealousies and the losses – until the only problem that love can’t solve, tried to destroy them.

Covering the years 1979 to 1994 it’s no surprise that yes at the end this is another movie about AIDS and its devastating effect on the gay community. I’ve not read the memoire so can’t say whether it’s a good adaptation but it is a good film.  The only very minor misstep perhaps was casting the two leads and expecting them to be able to play a character from age 17 to 34, because it’s very obvious in the early school shots of 17 year olds that these two guy’s aren’t anywhere near 17.

While I do believe these stories do still need to be told – because people forget surprising quickly and as I’ve recently seen on Tumblr some folks in their teens and 20s  in the LGBT community seem a little unaware of the devastation AIDS caused – I think from a personal pov I’m pretty much done with the everybody dies storylines.

As someone who is only an ally I want to see more LGBT stories where people overcome challenges, live happily, raise kids and have families spanning generations.

Glitter Slush Neon Cake was another series of shorts running under the tag line of “Unicorns to the fore in these magical, hyperreal depictions of queer youth.” There were 3 films, 2 were pretty good and one terrible.

The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff was a sweet, gentle and charming story about the slow awakening of 14 year old Ella.  Ella has done badly at school so must spend the rest of the summer having remedial classes with a tiny, smart-ass lesbian (Ulrika) several years her junior and who dresses like a Victorian maid.  Ella also has a crush on her male, middle aged, fake French ballet teacher. Inga Dreger (Ella) and Lotta Julie Teufel (Ulrika) give amazing performances and may well be names to watch for in the future.

Floozy Suzy aka Vagabunda de meia tigela is an adventure in magic realism from Brazil.  Suzy is the school Queen Bee and reigns with her boyfriend Romulo.  But out and proud Jonas John constantly flirts with Romulo. What Suzy doesn’t know and Jonas John discovers is a legendary book of magic hidden in the school library.  Cue body swaps and shenanigans!

The final film of the night was Lucid Noon, Sunset Blush and according the the label on the tin this was about “17-year-old Micha moving moved into The Palace – a basement full of queer femme sex workers, lovers and misfits. They are beautiful, carefree and as young as the night.”  And in a word it was a complete miss.  No discernable narrative and with up to 8 characters having simultanous extremely loud conversations meant any dialogue was pretty much incomprehensible.  In the film notes the director says “Nobody knew what they were doing. Actors got their scripts the night before, diff people who knew nothing about sound held the boom and every line was fed.”  And unfortunately it shows.  Hopefully future films will see them have more time, more funds and more space to make a bigger impact.

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