VQFF 2015: Bright Eyes, Queer Hearts Review

19 08 2015

Some mini reviews for some short films in last night’s Bright Eyes, Queer Hearts youth shorts program.

Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits

A personal documentary about a young two-spirited gay Native teen. Reminded me of the Playing It Safe Project I took part in, a documentary series about street youth and HIV. There is enough info and story here to be conveyed through multiple episodes/films — ie. What it’s like to be two-spirited, how others in the clan/reserve reacted to his coming out, etc. — and overall, felt a bit overloaded.

Grade: B

Carina

A cute little film from Mexico about a girl who has a crush on her art/dance teacher. Fantasies of driving away together like in old films abound her imagination and with no one to talk to about her feelings, she decides to go for it. Well directed and filled with pop songs, Carina makes for an entertaining watch — until the unsatisfying ending.

Grade: B

Big Time– My Doodled Diary

I was surprised to enjoy this film. Sure, there isn’t much of a plot and a lot of it is told in the voice over of a teenage girl living in India in 1984, but the everyday occurrences, like how she thought her friend’s dog was named Penis, are charming and feel genuine of a teenager’s diary. Although I was looking for the queer aspect, it’s subtle and part of the surprise of the film. Also, more a Capella please.

Grade: B+

Caged (Uitgesproken)

After the understated beauty if cliched storyline of last year’s Jongens, I thought it was a one-off of Dutch culture and society. Apparently not. In Caged, the friendship between two running buddies is torn apart when one catches the other (unabashedly) making out with the only other seemingly gay kid in town. Such a plot is reminiscent of gay teen novels from the early 2000s, so it was strange to watch something that seemed so anachronistic. Doesn’t help that the bullies are big, yelling homophobic stereotypes — not to mention the predictable, unearned ending. Maybe this is actually representative of the Netherlands after all.

Grade: C+

Penguins at North Pole

A queer film from Taiwan? Am I dreaming? The fact that this exists is enough to get me on board, not to mention the fact that the familial conflict of traditional Asian mother was almost too difficult (because it was relateable and understandable) to endure. Two Taiwanese women plan on getting married but want to come out to their parents — one’s mother and the other’s father, respectively — first. The majority of the film is focused on the overbearing and flabbergasted (and borderline caricature) mother as she tries to deal with her daughter’s in love with a woman. At 30 minutes, it’s a little long and a little too cutesy at times. Nevertheless, the film’s warmth will likely win you over.

Grade: B

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