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Vol. 13, No. 5, 2014
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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



2014 image + nation program


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



3.4 -- OUT IN THE NIGHT, Blair Doroshwalther
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Four black gay women from New Jersey are out at night strolling in New York when a man harasses and then pursues and attacks them. The man is stabbed by one of the girls in self-defense, and the other girls begin to hurt him after he tries to strangle one of them. The media had a hay day with the incident, using headlines like 'Girls Gone Wilding,' 'Hated by Lez Gang,' 'Seething Sapphic Sextet' and many more totally unfair and abusive epithets. The group, known as the New Jersey 4, were arrested, and all received an excessive number of years in prison, the worst being 11 years for Patreece for stabbing the man. The wound was surface, and the video surveillance tape shown in court proved the girls did nothing wrong but defend themselves. Still, the judge did not think so. They are all sent to prison, and the sentences are harsh. Time is not on their side. One girl is penalized for wearing boxer shorts under her uniform, and another is forbidden to go to her brother's funeral after he was stabbed in front of the family's house. Another girl was raped by her uncle when she was nine years old, and he continued to do it for many years. He gets five years in jail. She ended up getting eight years for the attack on the man. All girls have girlfriends, but no amount of solace can remove the unjust sentences they received because they were black and gay. An excellent documentary that makes you wonder if the US justice system's mandate is in fact one of propagating hatred of marginalized people and applying fairness to the rich and white hertosexuals.

3.4 --  NO EASY WALK TO FREEDOM, Nancy Nicol
[reviewed  by Nancy Snipper] The documentary introduces us to a crusader for gay education and STD diseases. Her name is Anjali Gopoland who also runs an orphanage. She talks about her volunteer work with NAZ where she enters Delhi’s gay parks and administers meds and condoms with a doctor friend who examines many gay men. They have been harassed by the police for trying to help, and many gay men continue to be imprisoned and beaten up. She also counsels families of gay men and heads the Outreach Program that hands out condoms everywhere in the park, the bus stations while talking to gay men. The police also beat up these outreach workers; anyone associated with gay men is deemed as promoting gay activities. This attempt to help gays and then being arrested happens all over India: in Lucknow, the head workers of their NGO organization were arrested and tortured by the police and the prisoners for 47 days. It is considered normal to do this because of Section, 377 in the penal code, which outlaws homosexuality. This law originated in Britain, and was referred to as the sodomy law. It was aimed at India, and landed there in 1860 when it was still a colony. Section 377 states that touching a person of the same sex out of carnal lust is against the order of nature – male to male. and so it is forbidden. Lawyers are interviewed to discuss the laws and the fact gays do not have acceptance. In fact, they are abhorred in India. Many gays want to marry, as they have no idea what being gay means – there is no identity for them -- no lifestyle other than meetings in a park. Sufis also are persecuted whose creed is to search for beauty in another man as divine law; male togetherness as a pair is part of Sufi law, but it does not imply homosexuality. Still the Sufis suffer from society’s attitude towards them. The film Fire by Deepa Meehta sparked great protests among the Hindus. From 1990 to 1993 there were attacks on lesbians in Mumbai, and for three months the city burned in fire. Eventually, Section 377 was taken to task for being unconstitutional and an affront to human rights. Naz started Voices, the name for their massive group trying to abolish Section 377. It was a necessary development to further the march for freedom for all marginalized people. The brave testimony of many were used to repulse Section 377 during the presentation of their case in front of the High Court. On July 2nd, 2009, the Delhi High Court struck down the law. Gaykind (term used in film), its kin and all minorities: caste, religious or people with a disability has taken a giant step forward in Indian law which now validates inclusiveness regarding sexual orientation, caste, religion and disabilities. It took eight years of fighting to win this freedom. It hasn’t been easy. Shortly thereafter, 15 religious groups from all over India tried to repeal the new progressive law in a flood of appeals, and now the Supreme Court is involved. Naz is preparing their case with superb support from parents and all sexually marginalized people. On December 11, 2013, the Supreme Court took a Cyclopean step backwards, and reinstated Section 377.

1.8 -- EL TERCERO (THE THIRD ONE), Rodrigo Guerrero
[reviewed  by Nancy Snipper] Shy Fede finds a gay couple through a webcam show and chat site. The graphics are explicit during this virtual reality encounter. Fede is invited over by the couple and after a dinner of great food, wine and talk about their families, the film takes a turn into homoerotic porn. Intense sexual scenes seem to overshadow the joking and secrets during the dinner when they reveal to one another truths about their families, including the suicide of Fede’s mother. Their ménage à trios might appeal to gay voyeurs attending the film, but I found it superfluous.

3.9 -- LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, Thomas G. Miller
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] In the 1950s gay marriage was illegal. When Richard Adams and Tony Sullivan fell in love -- they met at an LA bar in 1971 -- a great dilemma followed. Tony was from Australia, but, after several battles trying to get married, in 1976 a sympathetic female judge in Boulder, Colorado where gay marriage was legal -- issued them a marriage license. However, the Attorney General deemed it illegal, and when Tony tried to apply for a green card, he received an insulting letter from the US government stating that marriage between two 'faggots' was illegal; another letter followed giving another reason for not allowing Tony to stay in the country or make the marriage license stick. The US government said neither spouse could accomplish female household duties. They went to court against the United States to argue full rights of marriage and work. The judge ruled against it. They eventually went to the Supreme Court, but the case was denied it hearing. The second strategy was to challenge the deportation of Tony to Australia. The Federal Court of Appeals in 1985 agreed. It was Judge Kennedy who slammed the hammer again against them. TV showed how much they were spurned. The INS simply refused to recognize the same sex license they held. They both were set to go back on November 23, 1985. They had to leave their house and Richard, the American/Pilipino half of the couple, his entire family and life. Love was their choice. They flew to London, and were homeless, traveling by rail around Europe. They wanted to return to LA. They flew to Guadalajara, and a friend drove them to the border, and they got through. They stayed underground from the press and INS. Tony worked for cash, but both kept hiding out. They were outcasts, and even the death and subsequent burial of Tony's mother and brother would not be witnessed by Tony as he could not risk reentry into the US.

In 1990. Bush passed a bill to ease the law against entry into the US by gays and lesbians. Hawaii was first to consider enacting legality for gay marriage, President Clinton in 1993, opposed gay marriage. Then in 2001, immigration was tightened. In 2012, the INS was abolished. The couple remains more in the closet than before. In 2008, California votes legality for gay marriage between gays. To help the proactive movement along, a photographer gathers gays around LA where one member of the couple is not a US citizen. Both become leaders of a gay rally. This documentary is excellent. Isn't it interesting that Tony and Richard's marriage has endured over 40 years. With the long term stress, Tony has had two heart attacks, and Richard a stroke. Both recovered. The bi-national couple refuses to live in fear, and the so far, the government has not pursued them again. In 2012, Obama reversed the pernicious bill, and now gay marriage is legal. Richard now has stage four lung cancer, and his devoted partner, now a great artist stays by his side. Sadly, Richard died at the age of 65, the day before they were to travel to Washington State to legalize their marriage, as the Colorado one wasn't recognized by the US government. Their love is a testament to relationships that strive to endure despite the whole world being against -- especially if you are gay. Richard and Tony were pioneers in furthering the march to gay rights. DOMA is the bill that criminalizes gay marriage. DOMA the Defense bill against same sex marriage was finally struck down by the Supreme Court. It was Anthony who did this, ironic because it was this same judge who decried same sex marriage.

1.3 -- LAND OF STORMS, Ádám Csász
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Szabolcs, a thin but athletic young man plays soccer in an amateur German league. His homosexual tendencies become evident in a subtle manner during the player's shower time. He seems confused and lost. He heads back to Hungary and starts fixing up a dilapidated house he's inherited. The house is in the countryside, and no one lives nearby. Then he befriends Aron, The two seem attracted to one another, but both are in denial about this. Things happen, but then, Bernard, one of his old soccer friends who has a crush on Szabolcs shows up and they start an affair. Things become a menage à trois in parts, but it all ends with one player down and dead. Fights, homophobes, including the two anti-heroes' angry parents, along with religion, converge to show the cards are stacked against them. The film is fragmented and plays for visuals and assumptions that must be made by the viewer in order to connect the flimsy plot dots and the various scenes. It is a homoerotic film in need of a good script rather than the furtive glances it relies on. This is the director's debut film, and though it shows promise in creating mood, it fails to move us.

3.1 -- GUILDA, Julien Cadieux
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Guilda was Montreal's elegant female star impersonator who became immeasurably famous in the early 50s; she took the world by storm =- in particular Paris. She traveled the world and performed in almost every country. Vic Vogel composed the music for her. She met Josephine Baker, Nana Mouskouri and so many stars; she had the same stature as they did in rank and fame. Guilda was actually a man named Jean Guilda. A costume and make-up innovator, 'she' donned dresses that were stunning -- handmade beaded and sequined. Ostrich feathers swirled around her marriage. Interviews with his friends, his daughter and other impersonator, singers bring to life the wonderful personality and talent of this free-spirited comedian who died in 2012. The documentary is a colourful and entertaining pastiche. Fun and charm make this film a great viewing experience about a remarkable person. Her voice sounded like a low Edith Piaf. She was beautiful, but was lousy with money. She will go down in history as one fo the greats.

3.4 -- LILTING, Hong Khaou
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This touching, sad film, marvelously and with great subtlety, portrays the complex relationship of a Chinese-Cambodian mother named (Pei-pei Cheng) now in a senior's home deeply missing Kai (Andrew Leung), her son; he has just died. (They moved to England long ago, but she never learned the language). Kai apparently was on his way to tell her he wanted her to come and live with him. She wanted nothing more. Unbeknownst to her, Kai was gay, and she continues to keep in contact with Richard, his friend (Ben Whishaw). She feels her son spends more time with him than her. A series of flashbacks show their relationship -- mother/son, mother/Kai's friend, and Kai and his lover. These scenes amply portray the trio's angst: the guilt, the mother's smothering love, Kai's love for her, the loneliness and the fear of revealing the truth that he is living not with his best 'friend' but his lover. The lover now left to pick up the pieces where her son left off hires a translator to convey his desire to have her in his life -- even to come and live with him. The mother also has a suitor named Allan (Peter Bowles) at the senior's home and these scenes are very funny. The acting was brilliant, and the ending so credible and understated. The multi-faceted triangle of love, yearning and missing is gracefully and eloquently played out.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This enigmatic beautiful bi-sexual writer had a slew of famous lovers, ecstatic times mixed with challenges of grave concern, including three bouts of cancer -- the final one killing her in on December 28th, 2004. She was an essayist, actor, filmmaker and novelist. At the age of 19, she had her first child, and by the time she was in her twenties, she had become an iconic figure in literary and teaching circles. A tremendous lover of life who often stated she loved being, she defined a writer as one who has a curiosity for everything and an ardent love for all the arts; she followed her pledge to live life to the fullest and face all dangers. She worked in Sarajevo during the war, had traveled to China and made friends the world over. A feminist who fearlessly faced her opponents while using words to slay their bigoted views, she radically defied being labeled or having to pander to any man. Even in death, she was defiant, fighting the grim reaper, rallied by her last live-in lover-photographer, Annie Leibovitz. Archival clips that included several interviews with her sister and former lovers and friends, the film contained some artistic montages designed to mark different periods in her life and her passing. This documentary offers an excellent and interesting overview of a very powerful and passionate woman who proclaimed herself a fighter for injustice and for those who have no voice.

1.4 -- WINTER JOURNEY, Sergei Taramayev & Lyubov Lvova
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Desolation, despair, addiction, sexual deviancy, theft and violence mark the lives of the dispossessed and the marginal youth wandering the streets of Russian towns. Eric, a young baritone singer with a laid-back attitude who prefers to look at a vodka bottle than a Schubert lieder score, has a promising future and his audition for the highest conservatory for a scholarship is about to take place. On the way back from a lesson, boards a bus and has his headset and cell phone stolen by a thug who is arrested minutes later on the bus for beating up a guy also on the same bus. The thug has left behind a lizard talisman that he desperately wants to find. After being released from jail, he calls Eric to meet him to get it back. Eric is homosexual and the thug homophobic. Events and the talisman bring these two together. The thug rejects Eric's advances; he prefers to murder and steal, yet he does like Eric's singing which he hears on a stolen IPod. The film is ethereal and mystical in tone, but because it sits on the cusp of artistic surrealism and cutthroat reality, it meanders without credibility. Making reference to Russia's utter disdain for homosexuality, the story presents disconnected episodes of heightened dramatic hyperbole. Russia's lost and misbegotten have nothing to hold on to except a bottle of vodka and invisible dreams. Without direction or democratic laws to protect each and every citizen, including all homosexuals, the country with its cold winter becomes a metaphor for endless misery. Despite the unique feel of the film and the credible acting, the plot suffered. One either liked it or ended up sinking into a state of quasi consciousness.

3.0 -- SUCH GOOD PEOPLE , Stuart Wade
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Two married gays, Alex (Randy Harrison from Queer as Folk) and Richard (Michael Urie from Ugly Betty) end up house sitting in a lovely LA dream home for a couple who operate a non-profit organization in Bhutan. They often travel there to help orphans in a school, but this timr they don't come back. In fact, they are murdered. While minding the gorgeous nest, the two hilarious men find a stash of almost $1 million and they start thinking they could buy this house they so love. But one of the guys has an evil half-sister who is intent on buying the house too by cashing in the stash that she knows is hidden in the house; she is involved with the supposed do-gooder couple regarding the smuggling of pills to Bhutan. She also knows about the money when she overhears them talking about their lucky find,. But where it is, she does not know. A ransom, a canine kidnapping, a porpoise charity, a priceless dragon artifact and a disabled lawyer who is a killer converge in the screwball plot. Greed can cancel out initial magnanimity, but in the end, we discover that the generous gain. This is a fun, feel-good film full of clandestine conspiracies, mistaken accusations and funny characters popping up along the way.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A comedic seven-minute film. An Iranian refugee is arrested on a side road at an open border crossing in the dark. He is taken into custody. He claims asylum because he is a homosexual, and he will be killed in his country if he stays. To ensure he is telling the truth, the trio of police administer a 'phallometric test.' A device is placed onto his penis and on a screen an explicit image of two guys getting it on is projected right before his eyes. The graph shows his blood flow is accelerated as the line of the phallometer graph hits its highest point. He 'passes' the test. They all congratulate him as they welcome him to his new country. It's funny, concise and effective.

2.2 -- SNAILS IN THE RAIN, Yariv Mozer
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This Israeli film, set prior to the computer age, introduces Boaz (Yoav Reuveni), a beautiful well-built man who keeps receiving anonymous love letters form someone who knows his every move. A stalker for sure, Boaz is upset, yet very intrigued by the man's confession's of love for him. It turns out to be his Semitic language professor. Boaz is married, but he's had some encounters with men during his army days, and although he repelled the men coming onto him, he did allow them to kiss him with sexual fire. Boaz is terribly confused by his dual sexuality. It is a coming out genre film, but the ending shows his conservative upbringing is stronger than his urge to come out as a gay guy. Based on the short story, "The Garden of Dead Trees,' by Yossi Avni-Levy, this film is based partly on true events. Overly explicit in sexual depiction, it turned into a homo-erotic piece of audience voyeurism rather than a dramatic film intent on capturing the inner turmoil haunting the main character and how it affected his entire life. The flashbacks to his army days appeared to be inserted in a fragmented, simplistic manner without regard to the syntax and pacing of the film.

2.4 -- I REALLY LIKE YOU, Jason Karman
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] In only 13 minutes, we witness how Mike from Newfoundland, a possessive homosexual, takes his obsessive love for his younger boyfriend to the ultimate end: murder. Mike wants to marry him, but the young fellow is not into marriage. Lonely Mike's proposal happens during a camping trip. Mike does not take his lover's reply of rejection well, so he fatally stabs the young beau. Fast forward to another province and Mike is working in a diner. A young gay man enters, and soon both dudes are getting it on in the bathroom. When Mike says they should hang out, the stranger says their encounter was just a casual passing and exits the bathroom where their tryst took place. Mike follows him out, grabs a kitchen knife and attacks him. But this time, the sharpest cut of all ends up in mean Mike's belly. This clever short's theme is not relevant only to gays. It focuses on the lethal dangers of possessiveness -- a vile trait that affects all whose love is tainted by jealousy and the desire to own the object of your affections.

2.3 -- GUIDANCE, Pat Mills
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A misfit man who is a failed actor plays a tape he made in the studio for self-empowerment. He assumes the identity of Rolland Brown, a motivational guidance counselor on the Internet and gets a job as a guidance counselor at a high school. He drinks with the students in his office, encourages them to smoke dope and basically subverts any middle-class value his family has tried to instill in him. He clearly has an identity crisis -- much like the student's he 'counsels.' It's a whacky film that stars the director himself -- a cute comic who knows how to laugh at himself and make us laugh too.

2.1 -- PELUCAS (WIGS), José Manuel Serrano Cueto
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A fifteen-minute film that features Lola Marcelli, in the role of an actress named Mary Formell. She is in her dressing room and will not leave it to come and get her award in the hall. Her girl friend is a makeup artist and convinces her to either wear one of her wigs or her scarf. In the end, she enters the hall to full applause. Radiantly smiling, she seems to have come to terms with her chemotherapy and the disappearance of her hair. The film is inspired by the real life bravery of the director's wife, Cuca Escribano, a cancer survivor.

3.0 -- TRU LOVE, Kate Johnston & Shauna MacDonald
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A gem of a love story that conveys the confusions and irrational behaviour when one unexpectedly hurdles oneself into a bi-sexual relationship -- an event of surprise, wonder and torment, especially when one's adult life has always followed the straight and narrow. Two women fall in love despite a 30-year age gap. Tru is the younger one who is pretty good at snagging women of all ages, including Alice, the older woman who has a daughter that was implicated at one time with Tru. Complex Tru is not good, however, at maintaining relationships. The film reveals the emotional rollercoaster ride of love in an age of rules gone wrong and mother/daughter relationships that disappoint. Tru Love is a heartwarming film that without being explicit captures the 'Tru' nature of love's unstoppable tug for all involved and the trauma it can produce. The acting was superb. Kudos to Shuana Johnston for her spirited independence honed with understated emotion in the role of Tru, and to Kate Trotter as the effervescent Alice.


For the ratings of 2012 Image + Nation, HERE.



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