Thursday, April 05, 2012

REVIEW: 2012 Fusion LGBT Film Festival (Shorts 2)

I attended the 2012 Fusion LGBT POC Film festival last weekend and checked out the Fusion Shorts program. I have previously reviewed the Shorts programs from Fusion 2011, Fusion 2009, Fusion 2007.
These were the 8th, 6th and 5th editions of the festival, respectively. Fusion 2013 will be the 10th!

Here are my reviews of this year's Shorts Program.
Dir: Fawzia Mirza, Ryan Logan
In classic Bollywood style this documentary, full of color, beauty, and fashion, is a visual letter from a South Asian lesbian daughter to a traditional mother about finding love and loving her. This summary makes the film sound a lot more exciting and engaging than I found it. The Bollywood style of the film is all too limited, basically showing up as very brief flashes of staged scenes directly based on classic Bollywood films. Instead the film plays as a somewhat experimental, rather personal film. GRADEB-.

Dir: Gloria LaMorte
At a New York City high school dance a bashfully cute Puerto-Rican young man dreams of dancing with a super hot jock but will he have the courage to ask him? This is a heart-warming film about young love between two very cute Latino (or Blatino?) boys. The setting is a prom dance and the story plays upon the audience's familiarity with common tropes found in canonical cinematic depictions of young teen love (which is usually between a girl and a boy, often white a la John Hughes' oeuvre). The story develops in an amusing way and even includes a surprise ending which increases the emotional impact of this very well-made short film. GRADE: A+.

Dir: Nijla Mumin
A broken hearted young black woman moves back home with her mother who tries to mend her heart by setting her up with a  man from her past but all this lady wants is the love of a woman. This film featured excellent acting by the two actors playing the mom and the daughter but was marred by technical issues in the showing I saw the vocal track was out of sync from the visuals so that the movement of the characters' mouths was not aligned with the words coming out. That being said, the film was still able to generate an surprisingly powerful response in the audience due to the well-thought out and executed depiction of the relationship between the mother and the daughter and the "realness" of the reactions and emotions on the screenGRADE: B+.

Dir: Mike Rose
This hilarious comedy spends a few moments in the life of boyfriends who are driven to therapy over the prickly nature of joking around.Director Mike Rose is a Fusion stalwart and his parody of reality television called STOP IT ALMA was a memorable entry in the 2011 Fusion Shorts. This year, in COUPLES THERAPY, he again uses verisimilitude and humor as his main cinematic weapons in this frankly hilarious (and almost too realistic) look at the foibles which can derail a relationship between two gay men. The film is so well-written that it appears almost indistinguishable from a completely improvised successful comedy sketch, which is an indication of the writer-director's increasing command of his craft. GRADE: A-.

Dir: Ryan Lexi
Through candid interviews and stop animation this youthful documentary relates the importance of sharing knowledge and having a supportive community for those of us who are gender queer. As someone who teaches classes about the ways in which society constructs and forces individuals to construct various aspects of an individual's identity, I appreciated the straightforward and informative way  that the film educates the audience about the complicated connections between gender, sex and sexual orientation in a way which should have come across as didactic but instead to me was interpreted as refreshing an authenticGRADE: A.

Dir: Darius Monroe
A hook-up between two gorgeous black men takes an unexpected turn, tempers fly, bodies touch but will this hook-up lead to something deeper? This is another film for which the blurb and short description do not adequately prepare the viewer for what they are about to experience. For one thing, not only does the film feature "two gorgeous black men" but one of the men strips completely naked (full-frontal nudity yay!) while the other is incapacitated in a way which is not immediately obvious. That being said, I think the director got a little carried away with trying to maintain ambiguity about the intentions and motivations of the two characters and at point the thread of the plot of the film becomes a bit tangled and opaque to interpretation. The film making, particular the direction, lighting and sound are top-notch and bodes well for what else this film maker will produce in the future, GRADE: A-/B+.

Dir: Javier Sanz
With no words the feelings of separation between lovers wading in the aftermath of a fight are beautifully communicated in this sultry, moody lesbian love storyThis is almost a stereotypically melodramatic portrayal of a troubled relationship between two women. There are no words, so the story, such as it is, is supposed to be communicated through the shot selections and smoldering glances of the two protagonists. There's no real emotional hook for members of the audience who have not experienced lesbian melodrama so the strongest emotional reaction I had to the film was relief that it was over quickly. GRADE: C.

Dir: Andrew Ahn
A family comes together to celebrate a baby boy’s first birthday but this gathering stirs up feelings of disconnection and alienation for a young gay Korean-American man. This is another short from a director who had the thoughtful but disturbing BOY in last year's Fusion Shorts. This time he is back with another depiction of life as a Korean-American gay man, choosing to more explicitly engage in the competing forces of family commitment and personal agency. One member of a Korean-American gay male couple decides to attend the important first birthday of his nephew without his live-in lover because of the unspoken (but real) inability of his family to acknowledge all aspects of their non-conformist (i.e. gay) member. There's not much new here, but the authenticity of the story and setting (Ahn uses his own family members as actors in the film) raises the level of the film up from the relatively pedestrian nature of its storyline. GRADE: B+.
Overall, I'm very glad that I went to the 2011 Fusion Shorts 2 and am disappointed I wasn't able to also view the Fusion Shorts 1 collection. All in all, I would say that the collection as a whole was as strong as 2011's with the standouts being Crush, Vessel for my Heart and Couples Therapy.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin