SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK
Shadows Film FestShadows off the beaten path
Indies, foreigns, docs, revivals and shorts...
On this page - 31st BFI Flare (page 2 of 3):
CALAMITY | FOR NONNA ANNA | LANDLINE | NIGHTS OF GLORY | RUN(A)WAY ARAB
SUNUNU: THE REVOLUTION OF LOVE | THE SWAN | THESE ARE MY HANDS
< <
  S H O R T S   > >
last update 17.Apr.18
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL

These Are My Hands   3.5/5  
dir Evi Tsiligaridou
scr Jo Clifford
with Jo Clifford
18/UK 8m
clifford
These Are My Hands A performance art piece, this short film is essentially a visual poem written and performed by Jo Clifford. The imagery is relatively simple, starting with Clifford's hands as she discusses things she can do with them, like write, comfort, hold a child. But when she talks about boxing or being in the army, she breathlessly adds, "Couldn't do that." The words shift to her father, and the fact that she wasn't the child he wanted, and that she had to battle to become herself. It's a simple approach to a big idea, as Clifford explores her own transgender experience using physical and emotional imagery that's strongly evocative. This includes bracing her scars, or as she calls them, repairs.

24.Mar.18 • BFI FLARE

Landline   4/5  
dir-scr Matt Houghton
with Jem Dobbs, Jonathan Blake, Richard Price, Alex Thompson, Niamh Blackshaw, Bradley Johnson
18/UK 13m
Landline
Landline This documentary short artfully explores the work of a gay farmers helpline in rural Britain, playing the calls on the audio track as actors subtly recreate scenes. It's a fascinating exploration of a masculine world in which men find it difficult to be themselves, leading to both endemic homophobia and thoughts of suicide. Afraid of losing their friends, families and jobs, these men hide their true selves, grappling with whether to come out and risk whatever happens or to live a real life. Filmmaker Houghton vividly captures the isolation in these men's voices, as well as the relief that comes with being able to call a help line like this and find an understanding ear. Along the way the film features some genuinely upsetting moments that will hopefully start a discussion and provoke some social change.

24.Mar.18 • BFI FLARE

Run(a)way Arab   3.5/5  
dir-scr Amrou Al-Kadhi
with Amrou Al-Kadhi, Ahd, Omar Labek
17/Belgium 12m
al-kadhi
Run(a)way Arab There's not much to this rather evocative little film, which creates an atmosphere without digging too deeply beneath the surface. But it's beautifully shot and played, and is full of resonant emotions. It centres on Nazeem (played by filmmaker Al-Kadhi), who is reminiscing about his childhood as he applies his drag makeup. In flickering flashbacks, we see him as a young teen (Labek) engaging with his mother (Ahd), who indulges in him but is fully aware that he can't wear this kind of clothing and makeup when he's outside the house. There's not much more to it than that, and we oddly don't even get to see Nazeem's stage act. But the film has a remarkable earthiness to it, quietly making the point that this is how life is in the Arab culture (and of course many, many others too). It's both a quiet plea for the right to express yourself and a lovely ode to an understanding mother.

25.Mar.18 • BFI FLARE

Calamity   4.5/5  
dir-scr Severine de Streyker, Maxime Feyers
with Jean-Michel Balthazar, Ingrid Heiderscheidt, Bastien Ughetto, Francois Maquet, Arthur Marbaix, Judith Williquet
17/Belgium 22m
ughetto and maquet
Calamity With plenty of visual panache, this little black comedy looks like a fully budgeted feature film, and couple probably be expanded to one. It's also a smart look at a group of people who react to each other in ways that surprise even themselves. And while it is ostensibly a story about a trans woman, it's much more powerfully a tale of compassion and understanding. It opens as Romain (Ughetto) reluctantly agrees to invite his new girlfriend Cleo (Maquet) over for a family dinner, which is sprung on him before he can prepare his parents Lucien and France (Balthazar and Heiderscheidt) or his brother and pregnant sister-in-law (Marbaix and Williquet). They all take one look at the clearly trans Cleo, and things spiral quickly out of control. Directors de Streyker and Feyers beautifully observe the details of each facial reaction, which adds a complexity to each moment of interaction. It's both hilarious and emotionally wrenching to watch these people struggle with merely accepting Cleo as Romain's girlfriend (the title refers to Cleo's band). Silent stares and mimicked gestures indicate both sensitivity and disapproval, as everyone struggles with his or her own reaction. Thankfully there are flashes of humanity in here as well. The final moments are both hopeful and sad, but the film inventively refuses to preach, instead encouraging the audience to think.

25.Mar.18 • BFI FLARE

The Swan   3/5   El Cisne
dir-scr Daniel Chavez Ontiveros
with Sthefany Galante Bautista, Juana Bautista, Claudia Bautista, Amelia Bautista, Patricia Bautista, Marisol Bautista
16/Mexico 22m
bautista
Outlines A fly-on-the-wall doc, this film sometimes feels invasively personal, but has real emotional power. It opens in San Francisco, where Sthefany is a top drag performer with a huge following. Then she announces she is returning to Mexico to visit her family for the first time in six years, after being threatened with violence there. Her sisters are fully supportive, encouraging her to talk openly to her parents about her gender identity. So she does. Her mother takes it in stride, but her father reacts with stunned silence. The camerawork is remarkably intimate, following Sthefany through all of this without blinking. This offers some very intense moments, awkward reactions as well as warm expressions of love and support. And as Sthefany returns to her life in California, the film refuses to overstate its issues. This leaves it feeling a bit thin, even though it's nice to see such an honest glimpse in to this intriguing woman's life.

25.Mar.18 • BFI FLARE

For Nonna Anna   3/5  
dir-scr Luis De Filippis
with Maya Henry, Jacqueline Tarne, Anna Pecchia, Remy Barone
17/Canada 13m
henry and tarne
For Nonna Anna Understated and very odd, this Canadian drama is shot in a quirky square aspect ratio like the home video that reveals its central theme. It's almost like an accidentally shot scene in which the young Christina (Henry) is helping her mother (Pecchia) get Nonna (Tarne) into the bath. But Grandma is so senile that she refuses to take off her clothes. Alone in the house, Christina finds an old video of herself as a young boy (Barone), encouraged by Nonna to dress up as a girl and play. And this gives her an idea about how to get her to strip. All of this is observed rather than told, with only snippets of overheard dialog that leave it somewhat vague. It's almost like it was assembled from found footage, piecing together just enough detail to express the unusual connection between this trans woman and her grandmother. It's lovely, but too loose to carry a proper punch.

25.Mar.18 • BFI FLARE

Sununú: The Revolution of Love   4.5/5  
dir Olivia Crellin
with Fernando Machado, Diane Rodriguez, Rafael Corea, Mariasol Mite
17/UK 25m
rodriguez and machado
Sunun√∫: The Revolution of Love Centred around a likeable young couple in Ecuador, this short doc tells a story that is mainly remarkable for the fact that it probably couldn't have been told a few years ago. It centres on Diane, a high-energy political activist, and her 23-year-old boyfriend Fernando. The twist is that Fernando is pregnant with their first child. Both Diane and Fernando are trans, and Fernando came off his hormones so they could start a family together. Along the way, the film also traces their younger lives, facing discrimination that drove them into sex work before they were able to embrace their identities. But Ecuador is a nation that constitutionally recognises gender identity as a right, and Diane was the first openly trans person to run for political office. The film itself is a bit rough around the edges, but this couple is likeable enough to make it gripping. Diane is such a hilariously feisty presence that we'd like to see a lot more of her. And the film has a strong message about the difference between birth and social genders. So it becomes a call to arms to a new generation with a new perspective.

25.Mar.18 • IRIS PRIZEBFI FLARE

Nights of Glory   3.5/5  
dir Isabel Freeman
with John Sizzle, Johnny Woo, Colin Rothbart, Zoe Argiros, Jack Cullen, Laurie Lloyd
17/UK 16m
Nights of Glory
Nights of Glory This scruffy little doc explores life at the colourful queer pub The Glory in Shoreditch, as the hilariously laid back owners discuss ideas for club nights ("How about a straight night with a rock band?"). Meanwhile, drag queens are getting themselves ready for an epic contest. The film flits around between the owners, bar staff and contestants, each of whom brings a distinct perspective to the venue with his or her opinions, observations and anecdotes. There's an amusing scene in which the owners discuss the contestants' colourful drag names, and the film also includes quite a bit of their performances. The film may not say much about running a gay venue, programming a night of entertainment or getting up on stage to express your inner diva. But it reveals a terrific sense of community in this lively bar on a far edge of Central London. And it kind of makes you wish you had a place like this to hang out and just be yourself.

25.Mar.18 • BFI FLARE


back to the top send shadows your reviews!

< <   S H O R T S   > >
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL

© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK