Friday, 25 March 2016

30th Flare: Hanging tough

The 30th BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival continues on the Southbank through this coming Easter weekend. It's quite a lively atmosphere, with filmmakers mixing with audiences through both casual encounters in the cavernous BFI Southbank complex as well as a series of receptions and parties that run throughout each day. In one day this week, I was able to chat informally with directors and/or actors from five films (apart from scheduled interviews I've had for work). Here are some more highlights as the festival approaches its closing days...

I Promise You Anarchy [Te Prometo Anarquia] 
dir Julio Hernandez Cordon; with Diego Calva, Eduardo Martinez Pena 15/Mexico 1h28 **** 
Earthy and realistic, this drama centres on a group of young skaters roaming the streets of Mexico City. The film has an artful lyricism to it, finding beauty in some very, very dark situations. Clearly, filmmaker Julio Hernandez Cordon is a fan of Gus Van Sant's work, adding his own distinct political/cultural touch.

Henry Gamble's Birthday Party 
dir Stephen Cone; with Cole Doman, Pat Healy 15/US ***. 
Warm and relaxed, this is a knowing exploration of the undercurrents that swell beneath the squeaky clean surface of strongly religious families. With some 20 characters, the film takes on a wide range of issues, all centring on how American Christians are preoccupied with sexuality. And the personal touches make it resonate.

Like You Mean It 
dir Philipp Karner with Philipp Karner, Denver Milord 15/US **. 
This skilfully assembled drama is packed with compelling issues, although it struggles to connect with the audience due to stilted pacing and a somewhat cold approach that doesn't quite break the surface. Essentially it's about that moment when a relationship runs dry. But before resolving this, the film shifts into a pointed depiction of mental health issues... FULL REVIEW >

Coming Out 
dir Alden Peters; with Alden Peters, Ritch Savin-Williams 15/US **** 
Despite the blandly generic title, this documentary has plenty to say about the topic, especially for people living in tolerant societies. Filmmaker Alden Peters filmed the moments he told his family and friends that he was gay, but the bigger issue is his own personal journey to understanding himself. It's a sharply well-crafted film that's both witty and moving.

dir Sean Baker; with Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor 15/US ****.
This film is so fresh and original that it's easy to forget that it was shot entirely on an iPhone, proving that money isn't what makes a movie engaging. With snappy dialog, colourfully complex characters and a farcical plot that's genuinely hilarious, this is a seriously unforgettable Christmas comedy... FULL REVIEW >

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