Arts &
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Vol. 11, No. 5, 2012
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow
Paraiso Travel
Necessities of Life
For a Moment of Freedom
Blood River
By the Will of Genghis Kahn
The Concert
Weaving Girl
Into Eternity
When We Leave



2012 image + nation program


So far, A & O film critic Nancy Snipper has seen the following films. Here are her ratings and comments, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.



Nancy Snipper

Imagination + Nation, now in its 25th year, is a festival is screening over 100 films this year, including such riveting documentaries as "Call me Kuchu'," "Emergency Exit," and "Lesbiana." A gamut of gay topical films, including shorts and features effectively and artistically subvert the stereotypic collective consciousness most of the population holds on homosexuality.

2.4 -- CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI, by group film collective
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This documentary gives us glimpses into gender-bending through the shadow puppet tale of the Mahabharata and the transgender puppeteers (wayang kulit). It also takes us in the homes and onto Indonesian streets where gays and lesbians live. Muslims have rejected the religious dogma dictating correct sexuality, but that hasn't stopped the violence and brutality. Indonesia does not take kindly to homosexuals, and for those non-conformists who dare to risk the right to express themselves, having to deal with homophobia and exclusion and even torture is a way of life.

1.5 -- KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, Ira Sachs
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Documentary filmmaker Erick picks up Paul, a lawyer, for some sex. We are not sure where or how they met. The scenes are intimate and it shows how their love grows. Unfortunately, Paul becomes a crack addict, and their relationship suffers. Erick is totally devoted to Paul, and so when Paul disappears for nights on end, Erick falls apart. An intervention is needed, and for a while we see Paul is off the stuff, having gone through rehab. But he old habits die hard. In the end, they choose to leave one another; Erick has lost his ability to stay with Paul though he loves him. Erick played by Thure Lindhardt also starred in the film "Formentera,", shown at the Montreal World Film Festival. In this film he also played a man in love whose partner -- a female -- disappears for days on end. Lindhardt chooses odd-ball roles, but plunges deep into them off with conviction

3.0 -- THE BERLIN YEARS 1984-1992, Dagma Schultz
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Well-known Afro-American lesbian poet, Audre Lorde, goes to Berlin to assist Afro-German women to create a voice, cohesion and strong identity for themselves. She hooks up to the university there and several groups of writers and activists and initiates. Some of these women get together to write a book on the topic. Lorde is keen to involve white women from Berlin in a special meeting. She urges them to fight against racism and that differences between black and white women will remain if silence isn't broken. She attracts a lot of women to her side, as she is articulate and strong and very lively. Her hope is to have all Afro-German women unite though they all are different. Some of these black women can trace their roots in Germany as far back as the 1600s.

3.0 -- LES INVISIBLES, Sebastien Lifshitz
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A close-up and personal kind of documentary that lets us into the lives of six gay and lesbian old time couples -- well into their seventies -- who reveal their coming out stories. It is very funny watching them interact with their partners -- especially the old men who natter at each other. In the documentary, there is also one man who is bisexual. He has the best message of all -- don't ask why; just enjoy. All the people we meet live in France. The countryside is beautiful, their own rural lives have given them longevity and happiness, even if it was a long journey to get there. Old photographs and film clips help to piece together the autobiographical stories each one tells. In the film one 83-year-old man is bisexual. He lives alone -- his own choice. He is a shepherd. He has the best message: don't ask why you homosexual; just accept it and enjoy. It's about love and nothing more.

3.8 -- THE INVISIBLE MEN, Yariv Mozer
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A documentary where Israel and Palestine have one thing in common: the intense persecution of gays. Louis is Palestinian, but lives in Israel illegally. He has no permit to work or live there. Every day he hides from police because he is gay. His father who works in Israel tried to kill him for being gay, and he is often hunted down by the police. Louis and two other gays are the focus of this film that tracks their plight. Louis reluctantly gets asylum in an undisclosed Western country, as does his friend Abdu -- introduced to him by the leader of an organization that helps gays in the Middle East escape persecution. They take them through the process of seeking asylum. This small band of crusaders works outs of Tel Aviv University. So sad is it to leave Israel for Louis, he cries for the land he loves and may not see for a long time, once he begins his life anew in a cold climate with pople who don't speak Hebrew or Arabic. In fact, gays live like dogs in junk yards or hovel apartments taking each day as it comes. To be gay in Palestine is a living nightmare. To escape to Israel without permits, and being gay is a double risk.

1.5 -- MARGARITA, Dominique Cardona & Laurie Colbert
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A badly made movie that goes beyond boring which is a shame because it deals with gay lesbian issues, yuppies nearly losing it all, and illegal nannies who end up taking care of the whole family as does the nanny Margarita. Gail and Ben are life partners who have lost a lot of money in a bad investment. Their marriage is also on the rocks. For six years, Margarita has been the nanny to their teen daughter. She can't stand her parents and wants to go to Mexico with Margarita who is teaching her how to be a nanny in a non-serious way. Mali is preparing for her 'new' job if she moves. It turns out, Margarita is going to be deported; a simple bike accident brought the police and the order for her to leave within 5 days. A plan is hatched to have her marry either Ben or Gail, but her girlfriend pops the question, and all is saved.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A lesbian affirmation documentary, despite disconnected editing, details the important growth of the movement. There are many interviews with lesbians who candidly reveal what it means for them to live with other women in all-female communities, and the mirth that empowers them to declare and live as a lesbian. The energy and diverse challenges and talents within the lesbian culture are explored. The film condemns patriarchy and our society whose laws come from them, along with the violence, disrespect and abuse against women that seem to mark every patriarchal society. It discusses Jewish lesbianism and reveals that within lesbian separatism, there is anti-Semitism. It also reveals the obstacles that one faces as a black lesbian whose issues white lesbians are only beginning to understand. We meet some interesting women who have rejected their marriages after decades to join the separatist lesbian communities that are across the United States. These communities sometimes comprise a large piece of land where women build together their houses, shop and care for one another. It seems to be a 'femaletopeia.' The film shows the joy and comfort women experience without living with men. The film also talks about women who are lesbian but who wish to live with men and continue to fight abuse. So many lesbian leaders are authors, singers, dancers and poets. Leaders such as Gloria Escomel, Louise Tourcotte and Nicole Brossard form in the ranks of those who have pioneered and championed the lesbian cause and culture. Professor Lise Well and radio personality Laura Yaros and Marilyn Frye explain the significance of being a politicized lesbian. Oodles of brilliant books have been written about the movement and the whys of the lesbian culture. I was particularly impressed by the Buddhist American woman living in Vermont in a beautiful all-wood cottage in nature. As well, the Alabama Terre des femmes community was paradise -- as many of them seem to be as they continue to flourish in North America. There are so many lesbianism-demystifying facets in this fine film, I'm tempted to go down to Alabama for a while to live in nature and with those who celebrate your existence as a woman.

3.8 -- MELTING AWAY, Namess Ba'geshem
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Assaf wants desperately to be a girl, but Shlomo, his super-macho, rather mean-hearted father kicks him out of the house after he discovers jewelry and bras pinned to the underside of his teenage son's mattress. There Assaf is standing in the rain crying for his mother to let him in, but the door never opens. Four years pass, and we meet stunning Anna (formerly Assaf) in a club, now a gorgeous woman singing. The mother misses her son and has hired a friend detective to hunt him down. That is when we first see the transformation when the detective enters the club with Assaf's best friend. He too has been tracked down to help give information as to Assaf's whereabouts. He is gay -- another interesting story in this film. The detective refuses to tell the mother anything about her son's new life, but tells her to back off and let her son come to her. But the mother must inform her son that the father has cancer and is dying. When the detective visits Anna to tell her about the illness, she feigns indifference. In the next scene, we see Anna introducing herself to her father lying in the hospital bed. She tells him she is the nurse hired by the insurance company to care for him and keep him company. When Shlomo's brother meets Anna, he comes on to her. Days later, the mother recognizes her son in Anna. She is appalled, and visits her telling her not to tell the father, as it will upset him. The uncle also visits her and tries to beat her up. As Anna and her father become close, the film gives us a surprise as great as Assaf's new appearance. This film touches upon parental rejection of gays and transgenders, and the final acceptance of the issue. The subplots are marvelous in this story that artfully unfolds with real-life transgender actor/model Yanni magnificently leading the way.

2.4 -- MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, Michael Shane
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A slight deviation from the novel by Gore Vidal, this campy, yet provocative 1970's film introduces a science fiction surgery room where Myron ( Rex Reed) is about to lose his private part with the hope of becoming Myra (Raquel Welch) and changing the world by ball busting every male that exists in order to create a new, perfect world. In fact, as Myra, he is as aggressive as an alligator on the attack. Myra is cocky gorgeous and really smart. She's a pit-bull business woman who tries to overtake the acting studio in Hollywood run by Buck (John Huston). She runs acting classes and makes good on her vow by humiliating every male around, focusing particularly on one stud who is in love with his lovely lady girlfriend (Farrah Fawcett). As nurse Myra trying to correct a back problem on her stud, she emasculates him in the most sexually vile way, and she then tries to seduce his girlfriend. The uber-campy Mae West plays a top acting agent who also uses the stud as she likes -- sent to her compliments of Myra. All around the theatre grounds, people are engaging in love acts when not listening to anti-communist propaganda espoused by Buck and his colleagues. Raquel Welch doesn't miss a second of perfect acting for the camera. She really had talent. The film is delightful as it sends up its own message: it splices black and white clips from the old movies -- talkies and silent classics -- in reaction to lines and events going on within the film itself. "Myra Breckinridge" is a cult classic which offers juicy jolly viewing.

3.8 -- HORS LES MURS, David Lambert
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] One example of a totally compelling film that depicted gay love inexorably glued to life's gritty realities is the film "Hors les Murs." I was moved by the gut-wrenching performances and plot in this film which was co-production: Canada, France and Belgium.

After seeing the film, I spoke to a gay couple who candidly explained that the tortuous love affair revealed in the film and the situation that imploded from it was completely credible, but that it was outside their own personal experience as a gay couple. Both young men told me that in various pockets of gay communities, all kinds of obsessive and unhealthy experiences happen. Gays are driven by the same yearnings as heterosexuals: the need to connect, feel loved and exalt in joy. Indeed, as this film shows, gay love is not solely a sexual beast. Its source can be found in the need to survive, the quest for stability and the desire to 'fit in' without fear of ostracism. This movie touches upon these aspects of the gay culture, as well as highly profound emotions that affect gay love.. Above all, it tells a story of two men brought together by sheer happenstance and circumstances that both solidify and sunder apart their budding love. Sound familiar? Though we wish for a different ending in the film, it is one of the most powerful to stride across the screen in this festival -- North America's largest and one that attracts an exciting mix of really interesting people striving to make this world a far more just one.

Paulo falls madly in love with Ilir, a bartender at a small club who also plays guitar. Paulo had gotten drunk, and Ilir, who didn't know the young blond-haired man, takes him to his home to ensure he will be ok. Paulo seems schooled in the ways of gay sex, and he is quite taken by Ilir who comes from Albania. Ilir, however, is reluctant to get involved with his new human puppy who offers himself up so easily. But they laugh so much, and are good for one another they eventually embrace each other. In fact, Ilir did not have much choice to take it slow, since shortly after meeting Paulo, this blond beauty's girlfriend kicks him out of her apartment when she realizes he has no interest in her at all. Paulo has no place to go, so he heads for Illir's apartment. Ilir really does not want to live with him, but he accepts. What follows is a tortuous series of events.

Illir leaves on a trip; Paulo eagerly awaits his return, but he never shows up. Finally, he gets a letter form his lost lover. It reveals Illir is in prison for bringing drugs across the border. Paulo is beside himself. But he is a great and loyal boyfriend. Illir's slow descent includes rejecting Paulo's' obsessive visits. He feels seeing him makes him weak, which does not help him survive in prison. He forbids further visits. Paulo takes up with the owner of a sex shop owner who takes good care of him though their sex involves Paulo being subjected to some painful moments (S & M). Paulo seems to be a parasite. But he certainly has a heart of gold. One day, Paulo receives a call from Ilir requesting him to visit him once more in the prison -- though it's been months since he hadn't returned to see his ex-lover. He wants Paulo to smuggle in cocaine. Paulo is still in love with him, so he consents. Illir swallows the tiny plastic pieces in which the cocaine is wrapped. Illir who now has skin cancer has changed. No longer is he virile and happy; he is poor and sick. Finally, Illir gets out of prison and visits Paulo at the shop where they used to hang out -- the one owned by Paulo's present lover. Everything that Illir once knew has changed, too. Paulo has become a rich, dandy and his stunning boyish innocence has been replaced with studied coldness. His new lover has taken good care of him. Still, Paulo books a room for them in a swanky hotel, but is unable to be with Illir. He has made his choice. The reversal of roles and fortune is most striking. This is films is about a gut-wrenching love story between two men who fall in love, but bad luck and wrong decisions have sealed each of their fates. They will not be together again. In the end, both cry -- Paulo is walking down the street from the hotel; Ilir is standing on the balcony of the hotel room watching his ex-lover on the street below. Tears and regret are all that is left for Ilir, and perhaps for Paulo as well.

This remarkable film offers great acting. Matila Malliarakis put in a profound performance as Paulo. Guillaume Goulx as Ilir expressed the turbulent push and pull of love's emotional angst while portraying a smiling character ready for a joke that masks secrets and sadness. What a great movie!

3.8 -- STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, Brian Dannelly
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] High-school wannabe literary genius, Carson Philips (wonderfully acted by 'Glee's' Chris Colter) wants more than anything than to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. The only problem is he is head of Clover High School newspaper that no one writes for -- let alone reads. He lives with a pill-popping mom, and his grand mom has Alzheimer's. She always tells him about her grandson who started a short story about a boy -- a boy who wanted to fly. Of course she is referring to Carson himself, but she is too far gone to connect the dots. This is a film of comedic hilarity with a serious message. The movie opens with Carson leaving to go home, but in the school yard he is struck by lightning and instantly killed. One big flashback about his life comprises the entire movie. His dream is to get into Northwestern University for journalism. The film pits him against many funny and mean characters: a cheerleader bimbo, two football fools, a best friend who plagiarizes brilliant writers, two gay guys who pretend to be macho and a Goth girl who barely talks. Carson has to deal with them all, but the biggest challenge is finding out that Northwestern University will only accept him if he comes up with a novel idea to showcase his writing, so he starts a literary magazine for which he must find funding and students willing to contribute their stories. No one does -- until Carson digs up all the dirt on many of them in order to blackmail them into writing for the magazine. Carson finds out his mother actually tore up the acceptance letter into the university, and he is devastated. There are so many funny characters in this movie with a realistic ending. In the end, he realizes that life is about the now, and that each day is special, that we must live with what we have. His mother is really in the villain in this story -- a depressive woman who ensures no one will succeed -- not even her own son. Her nemesis is losing him.

3.0 -- EMERGENCY EXIT, Mathieu Orcel van Velzen
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A charming documentary that introduces us to several Argentine gay couples -- some who have married, some who are with to transgendered partners. Some are very young; others in their golden years. They all have love in their heart for their partners. Their emergency exit is their safe haven. For one transgender, it's a shelter where she tends to Aids patients; for others it's a comfy apartment where their union can be sanctified as a married couple. Two lesbians are working together in a butcher business they have opened; another couple met as forest rangers in the park they oversee. Argentina allows for marriage, but transgenders face a problem because their ID card shows their male name, given at birth. It is interesting to hear their stories about how they met, their struggles and their courage to come out it -- a metaphor of an emergency exit where freedom to express love exists.

3.8 -- CALL ME KUCHU, Katherine Fairfax-Wright & Malika Zouhali-Worrall
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Ugandan President David Bahati is about to pass his anti-gay Bill. Support is given to him by several US fundamentalist (homophobic) groups along with the manager of Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper (no relation to the one in New York). This newspaper manager publishes outrageous fiction about gays, depicting them as freaks, men who coerce boys into sex. He along with the government also claims they are terrorists who belong to Joseph Kony’s Christian fundamentalist Lord’s Liberation Army. Support for the Bill is further boosted by ‘The Family’ -- a US-based evangelical movement whose key members travel to Uganda to fuel the hatred. In fact, the Bill will imprison for three years anyone who does not come forward to identify a gay person he or she might know. When noble crusaders such as David Koto along with lesbian activist friend protest the passing of the Bill going to the High Court, he is murdered -- and just when it appeared, the Bill will not be passed due to UN pressure and media. David had started a communal farm for gays, often giving food to all poor villagers, and had presented a case against this Bill to the High Court, thereby gathering global support form the UN and the media. Although David’s friends are taking up the gay gauntlet, they live in fear, but they persist. One feels that hope in this anti-gay country is covered in a massive lethally legal layer of gloom. This documentary follows David and his friends who crusade against the reign of terror against gays. Lesbians are raped and often forced to abort, even if they want to continue the pregnancy. Gays must party in secret, and work in the dark as Uganda continues to persecute all homosexuals. This country’s draconian dark-age mentality is most disturbing and dangerous for all mankind gay or not!


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