A Great Year for Trans Films at Wicked Queer Festival

 

In most years, it's a challenge for the Wicked Queer Festival to program trans films for two reasons: there are so few of them, and many of them tend to overly focus on the physical aspects of transition.

Not this year.

This year's films have trans folks doing more than transitioning: they're traveling the world, following their hearts, fighting for justice, running for office, loving and being loved, fighting fires, and standing up for themselves and one other.

 

Apricot Groves

Friday, March 31 / 7pm

Paramount at ARTSEmerson

Aram, an Iranian-Armenian trans man living in the U.S. since childhood, returns to Armenia to meet his girlfriend’s conservative family. Over the course of the day-long journey, Aram’s brother helps him prepare for the meeting, while also coming to terms with Aram’s transition. Written and directed by Pouria Heidary Oureh, this quiet and introspective film beautifully illustrates the bittersweetness of reconnecting with a culture that may not be accepting of who you have become. (description courtesy Outfest: Fusion Film Festival)

 

Free Cece!

Saturday, April 1 / 7pm

Museum of Fine Arts

On her way to the store with a group of friends, Chrishaun Reed “CeCe” McDonald was attacked. While defending her life, a man was killed. After a coercive interrogation, CeCe was incarcerated in a men’s prison in Minnesota. An international campaign to free CeCe garnered significant support from media and activists, including actress and executive producer Laverne Cox. Cox used this platform to explore the roles race, class and gender played in CeCe’s case. CeCe emerged not only as a survivor, but also as a leader.

Documentarian Jac Gares pushed past everyday narratives of victimhood that surround the lives of transgender people, to spotlight the way CeCe and other trans people are leading a growing movement to critically interrogate and disassemble the prison industrial complex. (Desc. courtesy of the L.A. Film Festival.)

Subject Cece McDonald and Director Jac Gares will join us for a Q&A and a reception after the film.

 

FREE SCREENING: Woman on Fire

Monday, April 3 / 6:30pm

Fenway Community Health Center

In February 2015, the Village Voice heralded the arrival of “New York’s Bravest” – Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in New York City. As a third-generation firefighter, Brooke has a passion for heroism that runs in her blood. Her father George is a respected lieutenant and 9/11 survivor with a 35-year legacy in the FDNY. People always asked Brooke if she would follow in her father’s footsteps. But when Brooke transitions from male to female in her father’s workplace, it poses not only a challenge to a macho profession, but also to the customs of the people she cares about the most – her traditional family.

 

Tamara

Friday, April 7 / 7:30pm

Paramount at ARTSEmerson

The film is based on the true story of Tamara Adrián, the first trans person elected to national office in Venezuela. The film follows her transition as she comes out as a woman, while maintaining her career as a prominent lawyer with a wife and two small children.

 

Trans Short Films

Saturday, April 8 / 4pm

Paramount at ARTSEmerson

From fairtyales to documentaries, from all over the world, from old to young to in-between, from coming out to staying in love, from the subtle to the absurd, this program of short films captures many of the facets of contemporary trans life.

 

Out Run

Sunday, April 9 / 1pm

Paramount at ARTSEmerson

As leader of the world’s only LGBT political party, Bemz Benedito dreams of being the first transgender woman in the Philippine Congress. But in a predominantly Catholic nation, rallying for LGBT representation in the halls of Congress is not an easy feat. Bemz and her eclectic team of queer political warriors must rethink traditional campaign strategies to amass support from unlikely places.

 

These and 38 other films and shorts programs will play across several venues. Check out the full lineup.

 

Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens

By John Black

3 stars

Sex.

Gender.

Sexuality.

Before you sit down to watch Gabrielle Burton’s fascinating documentary, Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens write down your definition of what each of these words means to you. Fold the paper and don’t touch it until the movie is over, then read what you wrote down.

Have your definitions changed? If so, then the movie has worked its magic. If not…well, watch it again.

Using a combination of intimate interviews and wild performance footage, Burton immerses his audience in the world of drag, a style of gender bending performance that has almost as many variations as there are costume changes in an evening’s entertainment. And while the movie certainly celebrates the art of drag, the director also uses it as a platform to explore the three words at the start of this article: sex, gender and sexuality and how they have come to define – and liberate – a new generation of people.

People who, at least in this documentary, live primarily in Columbus, Ohio. That’s right, smack dab in the middle of Steelers and Browns country is Middle America’s ground zero for dressing up and performing. It’s an important geographical location for the tales to be told, too; if Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens was set in New York or San Francisco or Paris, then it would be easy to just shrug it off as something that happens in the big, liberal city. To be so prominent, and accepted, in the middle of the rust belt says a lot about the performers and the people of Columbus.

The film also says a lot about the struggle the performers face in their personal lives trying to find a way to define who they are long before they ever teased their hair to frightening heights or bound their boobs with duct tape. Some of the people interviewed are comfortable with their choices, while some reject the whole idea of needing a label to define who they are. Some are still struggling which, as the movie reinforces, is OK, too.

 

 

Cube, Day Pack a Comic Punch in Fist Fight

By John Black

3 stars

Great comedy teams are often made up of opposites: Laurel was skinny and Hardy was fat; Abbot was suave and intelligent, Costello was a bumbling idiot.

While it’s too soon to call them ‘great’ after just one film, the new comedy Fist Fight, Ice Cube and Charlie Day play against each other in funny and surprising ways. Sure, one is Black and one is white, one is angry and one is timid, one is a famous rap star while the other has the voice of an asthmatic sucking helium. They could stand next to each other, say absolutely nothing and still get a laugh.

Luckily, there is more to the comic duo than simply a celebration of opposites. The both share a sense of what makes them funny to fans in the first place, a strong sense of comic timing and the willingness to look embarrassingly bad to make a scene work.

Directed by Richie Keen, making the leap from directing TV shows to the big screen, the film tells the story of two teachers trying to survive the last day of school at a rundown educational institution. Enraged that students are pranking him, History teacher Mr. Strickland (Cube) attacks a student’s desk with a fire ax. Fellow teacher, Mr. Campbell, witnesses the event but, afraid of Mr. Strickland, refuses to tell the principal what happened. Once the principal threatens Mr. Campbell with being fired if he doesn’t tell the truth, the English teacher rats out the history teacher.

The next thing he knows, Mr. Campbell is challenged to meet Mr. Strickland in the parking lot after school because, as Mr. Strickland says, “Snitches get stiches”.

Although the film gets a little to bogged down in toilet humor and silly sex jokes, there’s an energy to it all that makes even the most shamelessly stupid gags kind of fun to watch. There are some good supporting acts to keep thigs flowing too, such as Tracy Morgan as the high school coach and Jillian Bell as the insanely inappropriate guidance counsellor. Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) almost steals the show as the beleaguered principal of the school.

The real stars of the show, though, are Cube and Day who light up the screen whenever they appear together. Their acts may seem a bit familiar to anyone who has seen Day in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Cube in almost anything he’s done before that requires him to snarl into the camera, but it’s clear from the start that the pair are playing ‘themselves’ for fun in the film. Cube is fierce and funny, as expected, but he gives Mr. Strickland an undertone of caring for the kids that makes him more than a two-dimensional Ice Cube cut-out. Likewise, Day personifies the definition of milquetoast in the movie, but reveals a dark side t Mr. Campbell that gives the film the edge it needs.

Plus the actual fight scene is awesome.

The Movie Maker and His Muse

By John Black

 

Ask just about any movie director and they will tell you that, when it comes to a film’s ultimate success, casting is more than half the battle: Get the right people in front of the camera and the story is that much easier to tell.

Sometimes, though, something happens beyond the right person for the right role and the director starts thinking of that actor even when they aren’t making a movie. They start looking for or creating projects just so they can work with that actor again.

That’s what happened to director Olivier Assayas when he worked with actress Kristen Stewart to make 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria. The director had found his muse.

“There’s just something about her that inspires me,” Assayas said in an interview with Boston Event Guide. “Kristen is very creatively open to trying almost anything in a scene. Sometimes I have an idea, sometimes what you see on the screen is all from her. I would never have written a film like this without her in mind as the lead.”

The film Assayas is referring to is Personal Shopper, a 21st century ghost story about a young American in Pars named Maureen (Stewart) who spends a big part of her life roaming the fashionable streets of the city collecting clothes for her bitchy supermodel boss to wear. When not shopping, Maureen, who has the gift of clairvoyance, is desperately trying to contact her twin brother who recently died of a congenital heart defect that she has, too.

The delicate balance of high fashion and otherworldly visitations that Maureen tries to maintain comes crashing down when she starts to receive a series of increasingly seductive/intimidating texts from a stranger that knows all too much about her.

“I’m not a fan of this new technology where everybody texts and tweets instead of actually talking to each other,” the director said. “It’s a dehumanizing experience, which I think adds to the tension of the film because Maureen is, in many ways, being stalked by something inhuman. It could be her brother trying to contact her or it could be something much worse.”

Cinematically speaking, the director admitted, nothing could be more boring to watch on the big screen than an actor reading texts. Unless, he adds, that actor is Kristen Stewart.

“It all comes down to the pacing, from the way she reads to the way she reacts,” he explained. “Kriste understood that immediately so she paced her performance to match the pacing of the movie. It’s something we discussed, but not to the degree she brings to each scene. Watch her. Watch the way she walks, her body language and how it changes as the story pulls you in. You can’t teach that; it’s in the blood.”

Celebrate Women in Horror

Come celebrate Women in Horror Month with the spooky sisterhood!

All Actresses, Directors, Screenwriters, DPs, Sound-techs, Editors, SFX Artists, and Costumers are welcome to come hang out your fellow horror nerds and watch some movies.

The night will pivot around a 90m screening of short films made by and focusing on women.

Out on a WiHM - Celebrate Women in Horror Month takes place at ArtLounge in Arlington on Fri, Feb. 17. Showtime is 6:30 - 11:00 PM. Price Per Seat: $5.00

Schedule for the evening:

6:30-7:30   Hangout

7:30-9        Films

9-9:30        Q&A

9:30-11      Hangout