Monday, June 26, 2017

Up Close & Personal (2017) (shorts program)

Up Close & Personal (shorts program)
Friday, June 23, 1:30 p.m., Castro Theatre

Umbrella, dir. Rhys Ernst, 2017 USA, 15 min. 👏 North America première

This short documentary profiles four transgender individuals notable for their prominence in creating change. We meet the originator of the Trans Pride flag, a genderqueer person of color tattoo artist who owns his own tattoo parlor, a U.S. Army major fighting for the rights of the estimated 134,000 trans veterans, and the founder of the National Center for Transgender Equality. It’s an interesting and well done portrait of these worthy subjects. Highly recommended.

• IMDb page (director Rhys Ernst) • official website

Shape Up: Gay in the Black Barbershop
Shape Up: Gay in the Black Barbershop, dir. Derrick L. Middleton, 2015 USA, 29 min. 💖 Bay Area première

The barbershop has long been a focal point of African American culture, particularly for African American men. But what about LGBTQ African Americans? Are they welcome in their neighbor­hood barbershops? We meet several men (including former NFL player Wade Davis) who are openly LGBTQ in most aspects of their lives, but who have to deal with the delicate issue of coming out at the barbershop. The barbershop is a homo-social environment, almost entirely male, but often involving a performance of a hyper-masculine persona, in many cases including denigration of faggots. The filmmaker tests the limits of inclusion in the community of his own barbershop. This short film is a fascinating peek into a world with which I freely admit I am quite unfamiliar. MUST SEE.

IMDb pageFacebook

ID#5: winemaker, musician, farmer
ID#5: vinárka, muzikantka, farmárka (ID#5: winemaker, musician, farmer), dir. Emília Ondriašová, 2016 Slovakia, 7 min., in Slovak with English subtitles 👍 U.S. première

The subject of this documentary was an urban musician who moved to the countryside to reclaim her family’s land that was confiscated by the communist authorities after World War II. She lives a private life, growing grapes and making wine, playing music for a small local crowd or occasionally in a larger venue. It’s an interesting portrait, although it touches only briefly on the “queer” part of “queer farmer, musician, winemaker.” Recommended

Quote (in Czech, which is slightly different from Slovak) at the beginning of the film (not subtitled in the vimeo version):
“Byla jsem tenkrát ještě tak mladá a přitom tak hrozně nešťastná! Ačkoli, existuje vůbec nešťastná láska? Což nám i ta nejsmutnější hudba na světe neposkytuje štěstí? Ale vyprávějte mi o sobě, opravdu jste se navždycky usadil na venkově?” — Ivan Alexejevič Bunin: Temné aleje lásky

“I was so young at the time, and so terribly unhappy! But is there any unhappy love? Doesn’t even the saddest music in the world provide us with happiness? But tell me about yourself: have you really settled forever in the countryside?” — Ivan Alexejevič Bunin: The Dark Alleys of Love

• IMDb trailerwatch on vimeo

Muxes, dir. Ivan Olita, 2016 USA, 10 min., in Spanish with English subtitles 👏
In southern Mexico’s Oaxaca state, near the narrowest part of the mainland, there is a small city called Juchitán de Zaragoza, where indigenous Zapotec and Huave people make up the majority. In traditional Zapotec culture, alongside the conventional categories of man and woman, there is the muxe (pronounced “MOO-shay”), someone who was assigned male at birth but who lives much like a woman, but yet neither truly man nor woman. Their role in society is broadly accepted. This short documentary gives us a brief introduction to the muxes, leaving us wanting to know more. Highly recommended.

Also known as Define Gender: Muxes; not to be confused with the 2005 feature-length documentary on similar subject matter, Muxes: Autenticas, intrépidas y buscadoras de peligro (a.k.a. Muxes: Authentic, Intrepid Seekers of Danger) from IMCINE.

IMDb pageofficial website (watch the full short film) • *also plays in the “Transtastic” shorts program

Little Potato
Little Potato, dirs. Wes “Potato” Hurley, Nathan Miller, 2016 USA, 14 min. 💖 West Coast première

Wes Hurley was born Василий Науменко in Vladivostok, on the east (Pacific) coast of Russia, in 1981, near the end of the Soviet Union. This short, taking its name from a personal nickname, is his autobiographical account of his childhood in the USSR and moving with his mother to the United States. His mother is a truly remarkable woman, standing up for herself against two husbands: the first an abusive Russian man, the second an American who chose her as a mail-order Russian bride and then tried to impose his brand of fundamentalist Christianity — and karaoke — on his new wife and her son.

This tale of a fish-out-of-water who finally finds the right pond, is told with wit and humor. Definitely a MUST SEE.

IMDb pageclip from the film • note: filmmaker Wes Hurley also has a short film Rusalka in the 2017 “Fun in Boys Shorts” program

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