This week sees the start of the 39th Edition of Boston’s WICKED QUEER the fourth oldest LGBTQ+ film festival in North America and the largest LGBTQ+ media event in New England. It’s one of QUEERGURU’s fav Fests ……(we actually are a Media Sponsor of the Event) because its carefully curated program that covers most of the queer spectrum always invigorates our Team. Whether it be laughing hysterically, watching love blossom, or people discovering their own truths and celebrating that.
As is our custom, Queerguru have scoured the entire program to come up with our own list of recommendations: these may not necessarily include all the very best films but they are nevertheless
OUR TOP PICKS OF MUST-SEE MOVIES. … (so here in alphabetical order)
All The Beauty and The Bloodshed is a brilliant, award-winning, documentary following the life of photographer Nan Goldin. We are taken from her childhood through to her current activism in bringing down the Sackler Family, the pharmaceutical dynasty largely responsible for the opioid epidemic’s huge death toll. 500,000 dead so far in the US and counting.
Director Laura Poitras’ (Edward Snowden’s Citizenfour and Julian Assange’s Risk) has split the documentary into different chapters, alternating between Goldin’s life story and her current activism. Goldin narrates her tale and, however much you think you already know about her, be prepared for many previously untold, amazing stories of her life.
A Place Of Our Own is a new feature film about the trials and tribulations of a couple of transgender women In Bhopal, India, and is a tragic reminder of how life for them has not progressed at all in society. The film, made by the Ektara Collective, an independent collaborative of filmmakers which makes films about and involving marginalized and disenfranchised communities, perfectly captures the lows ….. and the highs ….. of the women’s search for accommodation after their latest landlord has illegally evicted them.
Laila and Roshni’s story (very effectively played by non-professional trans actors Manisha Soni and Muskaan) is based on real-life incidents during the Covid pandemic, which has the pair scrambling to follow the most dubious leads for the shabbiest apartments imaginable.
It’s not surprising to learn that BIG BOYS, the debut feature film of Corey Sherman, is based on an incident in his own life, as it has such a convincing authenticity to it. In fact, the premise of his heartwarming tale of a confused teen coming to terms with his burgeoning sexuality is something that most of us gay men can relate to on a personal level.
Kudos to Sherman for the sensitive way he handled the young man’s sexual awakening with such a fine balance that gave such a sense of normality to both Jamie and his predicament. He was helped to no end by the absolutely pitch-perfect performance by Krasner who made Jamie so extremely relatable. And also with the beautifully measured response from Johnson …. who looked and acted like a charming gay bear… that we would have all wanted to have received back when we were ‘Jamie’.
Do you know what the phrase ‘Fight or Flight’ means?” asks gay Geordie PE teacher Jean (Rosy McEwen) of her teenage students at the beginning of the brilliant new drama Blue Jean. It is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. It’s obviously on Jean’s mind as she navigates life as a queer teacher in a northeastern secondary school during bleak late 1980s Thatcher-era England in the shadow of controversial new anti-gay legislation, clause 28 of the Local Authorities Act.
Young, good-looking Jean loves her teaching work and is good at it. She has a steady girlfriend and a fun social life, chain-smoking, drinking, and playing pool at the local lesbian bar in town. She is not, however, out to her family, co-workers or pupils, and lives in constant fear of her sexuality being found out. She muddles along, dodging awkward questions from family and co-workers. She’s fearful of losing her job due to the increasing public awareness of clause 28’s rules about the ‘prohibition of homosexuality’ by local authorities, ie: her employer. The fear eats up at her inside, much to the frustration of her girlfriend Viv (an excellent Kerrie Hayes) who is a full-on raving lezza.
CHRISSY JUDY takes a poignant dive into what our friendships do for us – in particular those that involve our queer chosen families. Chrissy (Wyatt Fenner) and Judy (Todd Flaherty) are best friends and have been performing drag together for a while, mostly to rather disinterested audiences in New York City and Fire Island. They’ve both recently turned thirty years old and this milestone has triggered Chrissy into reevaluating his life and priorities. He decides to quit performing drag and move in with his boyfriend Shawn (Kiyon Spencer) who lives in Philadelphia, and transfer his day job there too.
P.S. Todd Flaherty filmed part of this his debut film in Provincetown MA the queer mecca on Cape Cod where we also summer so we filmed this interview with him https://queerguru.com/todd-flaherty-talks-about-his-directing-debut-chrissy-judy-that-everyone-else-is-now-talking-about-too/
El Houb (The Love) is a tense family melodrama set within the Dutch-Moroccan community in Holland. Successful young businessman Karim (Fahd Larhzaoui) and his Ghanian boyfriend Kofi (Emmanuel Boafo) are in a state of undress at Karim’s smart apartment when Karim’s father Abbas (Slimane Dazi), a postman, delivers a package and sees Karim in Kofi’s bed. Karim’s conservative, religious, family don’t know that he is gay and his father’s sight prompts Karim to decide to come out to them.
The film shows that, however tough it may seem at times, there can be an alternative to suffering in silence within a family. A genuine love story, in all senses of the word. Highly recommended.
Fiona Clark Unafarid is an affectional profile of a rather eccentric photographer who is something of a queer icon in her native Aotearoa (New Zealand) that the rest of the world …….. particularly the LGBTQ+ one … should know about.
Back in the 1970’s Clark captured images of the fringes of the local queer community: drag queens, transgender, and outrageous activists. It was all too much for a conservative environment and it almost stopped her career before it could take off. Now in her 60’s and living on a deserted old dairy farm stacked high with ‘junk’ in the remote countryside, she is every inch defiant about living her true life and unafraid of anyone/anything.
The film by Lula Cucchiara a queer LatinaX artist is a crucial part of queer history plus its impossible not to fall for Clark’s irrepressible humor and charm
Sadiq’s film is an intense analysis of the crippling effect ‘traditional family values’ on gender and sexuality can have on individuals in 21st Century families, not just in Pakistan, but in conservative households across the world. Many of the family members in this structure are slightly lost and downtrodden, and contrast sharply to the assertive, driven, fearless Biba who has no such strictures around herself.
Winner of the Queer Palm and Un Certain Regard Joyland promises to make an impact as Pakistan’s chosen entry for Best International Feature Film at next year’s Academy Awards Oscar’s ceremony.
The Blue Caftan is director Maryam Touzani’s beautifully poetic drama about the relationship between a closeted Moroccan tailor, Halim, (Saleh Bakri), his dying wife Mina (Lubna Azabal), and their gay male apprentice Youssef (Ayoub Missioui). Beautifully shot and lit by cinematographer Virginie Surdej, with excellent, very tender, performances by the three main actors, Touzani’s intimate, authentic film is paced to reflect the slow burn of the lives and relationships she is exploring. Her film is a great close-up study of the combinations of despondency, laughter, grief and joy life can entail. BEG, STEAL OR BORROW TO GET A TICKET FOR THIS ONE!
Will O The Wisp is director Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ unique queer fantasy romantic musical comedy. Both sexy and fun, prepare yourself for an unforgettable hour of craziness. A range of themes, including climate change, race, fascism and colonialism, combined with comedy moments and a nod to art history, brings the two protagonists together and they develop a sexual relationship. Amalia Rodrigues’s racist fado song is played as the two men have sex in a burnt-out forest, finishing with a funny cum-shot scene. Another humorous moment is when the two men look through a selection of dick pics, comparing them to various tree types. Will the unlikely prince and the pauper be able to survive the challenges to their love?
Wicked Queer Film Fest begins on 3/31 and will end on 4/9. To see the whole program and book tickets check out http://www.wickedqueer.org/
for full reviews of over 1500 queer films check out www.queerguru.com and whilst you are there be sure to subscribe to get all the latest raves and rants on queer cinema …best of all its FREE