Gen Silent

24 08 2011

And now, going back in time…

Synopsis:  A documentary about aging elders in the queer community and the struggles they face including health care issues.

Super awesome things:  I hadn’t seen a film about the older generation queers but this was the film for it.  Featuring intimate interviews with elders, Stu Maddox definitely knows how to pull on audiences hearts with some really good footage.  The stories of the people in the film, particularly, for me anyway, Krys Anne, a transgendered woman with terminal lung cancer whose family doesn’t visit her, is extremely affecting, and one can’t help but feel genuine concern for not only the people on screen, but wonder about the elders in our own community.

The film also does a great job at revealing the conditions of the elderly in nursing homes, and the phenomenom of elders going back in the closet for fear that their caretaker won’t accept them or will mistreat them.  It’s bizarre but their fears aren’t unbelieveable — which makes it all the more disconcerting.

Not so super awesome things:  Despite the engaging subject matter, the film’s editing is its downfall.  There are parts where the words of some of the interviewees aren’t given enough time for the audience to think upon, so its significance isn’t as powerful.  And because this happens multiple times throughout the film, it gives the film a rushed feeling, and running at only 56 minutes, Mr. Maddox’s choice to rush through editing is unfortunate (perhaps trying to fit it into TV broadcast?).  Maddox also sets up interviews feels staged: photographs of the elders and their partners sit conveniently next to them on a table several times, and although it was an interesting choice for mise en scene, it ultimately didn’t work for me. There’s also a little scene where, for some reason, one of the elder’s words are repeated with him in a golden/aged tint in the corner of the screen that, other than clearly out of place and strange, isn’t necessary.

I also felt the film lacked direction, jumping from interview to interview without trying to come to some cohesion and though there was an underlying subject, combined with Maddox’s quick editing, it made the film seem scattered and slightly unorganized in the direction it wants to take. After a while, the film settled down, but until then, it was a little frustrating to hear and see good material that wasn’t as affecting as it could have been.

Good for watching: anytime.

Overall: the audience gave the film a standing ovation and won the Hot Pink Shorts feature film audience award and though I didn’t think the film was as good as people made it out to be, I was nonetheless impressed by the subject matter.

Grade: B-


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