Saturday, May 24, 2008

Queer Youth Digital Video Project

InsideOut started the Queer Youth Digital Video Project in 1998, taking a half dozen or so young people each year and giving them mentors, workshops, professional help with tasks like editing, and, of course, access to a video camera. The results are screened in the InsideOut festival. Just to give you an idea of the quality of these short films, the program was sold out for a matinée time slot — I had to do the "rush" line!

This year, for the 10th anniversary, we saw highlights from previous years, including even blue (Ryan English, 2001), with a cross-dresser musing about his gay uncle [somewhat ruined by really bad sound]; Ohm-ma (Ruthann Lee, 2002), a film about a Korean tomboy [recommended]; in the dark (Niko Blaxxx, 2005), about two women raping a third, who then has to confront the double shame of lesbian rape [highly recommended]; In Search of My Chinese Girlfriend (Lisa Wong, 2006), in which the narrator returns from a trip to Hong Kong, determined to find herself a Chinese giirlfriend, full of sharp dialogue — "Oh wow, Chi and New Age! — leading up to a surprise decision [highly recommended], and Hello, My Name is Herman (Karine Silverwoman, 2007), an interview with the filmmaker's 91-year-old grandfather [highly recommended].

Dear Selection Committee (Suzanne Carson): You've been invited to apply for the QYDVP, but you haven't got a clue what your film should be about. What do you do? You make a film about figuring out what to make a film about! I usually don't like the "what it's like making a film" shorts that often come out of film schools, but this piece can relate to those of us who aren't currently enrolled. Highly recommended.

Familiarity Unknown (Phil McCaffrey): A music video for a song I'm not familiar with and whose title I didn't catch; sorry 'bout that. InsideOut says, "Acceptance, uncertainty and the urban milieu intersect, forcing two young people to look inward." Well made, recommended.

The Coming Out (Juan Antonio Llamas Rodriguez): InsideOut: "A perfect friendship is radically altered by the revelation of a secret." A coming-out story as seen through the eyes of someone whose peers are right in the throes of the issue, but with a couple of significant twists. In particular, a young gay man made this film with two female characters; the other twist you'll just have to see for yourself. Strongly recommended.

Gone (Jayme Spinks): The filmmaker's home burned down in a major fire that claimed several large buildings. She returns to the ashes of her former apartment and tries to wrap her mind around the loss. Poignant and effective, highly recommended.

f[l]ight (Alison Leigh): InsideOut: "Sexual orientation labels take flight in this paper-airplane skirmish." This one just really didn't get off the ground for me, not recommended.

Seeking Conclusion! (Leonardo Zuñiga): The filmmaker, Leonardo Zuñiga, is a Mexican immigrant to Canada, currently facing deportation proceedings. In this short, he documents the struggle to live with dignity and hope, even if that means leaving his native land. Highly recommended. [click on Leo's name for updates and more info on his struggle to stay in Canada]

DAY/MONTH/YEAR (Marc Cleary): InsideOut: "A young guy attempts suicide in this story about how we deal with fear." Suicide among LGBT teens is about three times more prevalent than among teens in general. This short is disturbing in its imagery, but it's meant to be. Highly recommended.

I Heard It through the Grapefruit (Zara Ganj): InsideOut: "Peeled, squeezed, and juiced through life — in the end, there can be a sweet taste after that sour beginning." Sorry, I must have missed the "sweet taste" part. This one really didn't work for me. Not recommended.

The Check-Up (Gabrielle Zilkha): InsideOut: "A patient emerges with an unusual diagnosis after a visit to the gynecologist." This insightful film takes only five minutes to call into question the binary dichotomies of male/female and gay/straight. Reality is far more fluid, with a range of genders and orientations. Strongly recommended.

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