QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 2016: SYLVIA'S TOP 5 PICKS
Starting from tomorrow, the fourth annual Queer Screen Film Fest will be held in Sydney from September 20-25, boasting twelve colourful films celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are my top 5 picks from the festival.
1. The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook
When: Thursday 22 September, 6.15pm, Event Cinemas George Street
The Handmaiden is without a doubt the film I’m most looking forward to see. After all, I raved about it like crazy in the original trailer article I wrote last month. The period-drama-thriller-romance tells the tale of two women embroiled in an elaborate scheme, where one is tasked with deceiving the other. The only problem? They may or may not fall for one another.
Seriously though, how amazing does it look? Park Chan-wook gives me the creeps with his subversive adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, showcasing his appreciation for gorgeous, spine-tingling cinematography and his finesse as one of South Korea’s leading directors.
2. Other People by Chris Kelly
When: Tuesday 20 September, 7pm, Event Cinemas George Street
Queer Screen Film Fest opens with Other People, an uplifting comedy that follows the life of a failed writer returning home to take care of his mother, who despite having cancer, still manages to retain her sense of humour.
“I’m not gonna be burned up ok? How would you like it if someone set you on fire? No thank you. I don't like camping and I don't like fires and I don't wanna be personally lit on fire. I wanna be frozen – Do they have that as an option?”
Other People presents a genuine depiction of mortality as a celebration of the ups and downs in life and the unbreakable bond between mother and son that only strengthens with the onset of terminal illness. I love how the film imbues these sombre issues with tongue-in-cheek humour and a joie de vivre not often seen in films on the big screen.
3. Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four by Deborah S. Esquenazi
When: Friday 23 September, 6.30pm, Event Cinemas George Street
In the late 1990s, a group of four Latina women were wrongly accused of sexually abusing two young girls for a satanic ritual. They were later named the ‘San Antonio Four’, demonised for their sexuality in court and in the media, and sentenced to up to 37.5 years in prison.
“According to the people in court, this is what gay people do. No…”
Southwest of Salem follows the lives of the women before their lives irrevocably took a turn for the worst, and their current battle for exoneration. This documentary intrigues me as it seeks to put a human face to the dehumanising label of the ‘San Antonio Four', reveals the giant cracks in the justice system and bravely explores an issue many would shy away from. It’s confronting, because it has to be, and because the stories of Anna Vasquez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh and Elizabeth Ramirez shouldn’t be swept under the carpet.
4. Weekends by Lee Dong-ha
When: Saturday 24 September, 3pm, Event Cinemas George Street
Yes, another gem from South Korea. Not much is known about Weekends, except it centres on South Korea’s first and only gay men’s choir, aptly named G-Voice, which is getting ready for its 10th anniversary performance. Everything would be perfect if not for how unprepared G-Voice is. Ah yes, disorganisation – Trust me, I can totally relate.
This documentary offers a rare glimpse into Korean gay culture and the homophobia faced by the gay community in East Asian cultures. It’s a message of hope, courage and the fight to be who you are, to love you who love, without fear of discrimination or persecution. I’m ready to get my box of tissues out for this tearjerker.
5. You're Killing Me by Jim Hansen
When: Saturday 24 September, 6.30pm, Event Cinemas George Street
Boy meets boy. Boy tells boy he’s a serial killer, who thinks he’s just kidding. I mean, how could anyone this hot actually be a psychopath? Plot twist: he’s not kidding.
“What? So you’re like telling me you’re some lonely murderer who I'm giving my number to? Hot!”
You’re Killing Me is a bit of American Psycho and a bit of every clichéd romantic comedy ever, starring gullible narcissists who only care about their own reflection and how many views they’re getting on YouTube. To be honest, this film looks terrible, but I love that it’s not trying to be something it’s not and takes the piss out of everything. I’m hoping for a fun watch with a touch of social commentary.
Queer Screen Film Fest will also be screening in Canberra on October 1 and the Blue Mountains from October 21-23.