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A sneak peek at the queer offerings of Melbourne International Film Festival 2014
Jul23

A sneak peek at the queer offerings of Melbourne International Film Festival 2014

CREATED ON // Wednesday, 23 July 2014 Author // Rachel Cook

We take a look at what the Melbourne International Film Festival has in store for the LGBTI community.

Eastern Boys
France 128 mins

When middle-aged Daniel propositions Marek, a handsome young Eastern European man who spends his days cruising Paris’s Gare du Nord, he invites a world of trouble into his life. Soon other young men arrive to plunder his apartment and Daniel must defend himself and Marek from the group and their menacing leader.

The second feature from director Robin Campillo (They Came Back) – screenwriter for Laurent Cantet’s Foxfire and The Class – Eastern Boys proceeds without judgment and with a sympathetic eye. With striking cinematography and an avoidance of cliché, it balances tension with the quieter love story that underpins it.

Appropriate Behavior
UK/USA 86 mins

Shirin storms out of the apartment of her girlfriend, Maxine, after a break up, and proceeds to look back through her history of failed relationships. She moves in with pretentious artists, gets a job teaching filmmaking to five year olds, and employs a series of ill-advised schemes in an effort to win back Maxine.

Writer/director Desiree Akhavan, best known for her cult web series The Slope, stars in this story of a bisexual Iranian-American woman trying to find her way in modern-day Brooklyn. Appropriate Behaviour is an intelligent, engaging comedy that heralds an exciting new voice in indie cinema (with Akhavan soon to be seen in the next season of Lena Dunham’s Girls).

An Honest Liar
USA 90 mins

Director Justin Weinstein profiles noted sceptic James ‘The Amazing’ Randi and his decades-long crusade to expose charlatans, phoney psychics and con-men faith healers.

An acknowledged successor to Harry Houdini and public nemesis of Uri Geller, Randi gained notoriety as an illusionist and escape artist until injury curtailed his career. A master deceiver who came out of the closet at 81, Randi created fictional characters, fake psychics and a sham guru named ‘Carlos’ – all in the name of exposing those preying on the public.

A Girl at My Door
Korea 119 mins

After being posted to a seaside backwater, rookie cop Young-nam befriends the resident scapegoat, Dohee, who is bullied at school and abused at home by her stepfather, the town thug. When the troubled teen moves in with the police chief, rumours start flying around the town which, despite its idyllic appearance, has a dark underbelly of bigotry and homophobia.

Starring Bae Doo-an (Air Doll, The Host) in the lead roll, this debut feature by July Jung begins as a familiar domestic story then spirals off into multiple strands before ending as a suspenseful revenge drama.

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[Image] A Girl at My Door

What Now? Remind Me
Portugal 164 mins

Filmmaker Joaquim Pinto takes the audience on an intimate exploration of his own year-long experimental treatment for HIV; a journey where drugs both extended his life but took an inevitable toll, eventually affecting his outlook on life, pain and spirituality.

In some ways a diary of the pressures brought on by long-term illness, What Now? Remind Me moves with a generosity and grace to become a multifaceted and celebratory portrait of a life lived well, and a reflection on time and memory.

Jacky in the Kingdom of Women
France

French-Syrian comic book artist and director Riad Sattouf proffers up a gender-bending farce in which women rule and men drool. In the fictitious matriarchy of the People’s Republic of Bubunne, women are warlords and sexual aggressors while the men are meek and complacent homemakers.

Jacky (Vincent Lacoste) is a young man in love with the Colonelle (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and is desperate to attend the Grand Ball, where she will choose a husband. Filmed among the Soviet-era architecture of Georgia, Jacky in the Kingdom of Women is a twisted take on the Cinderella story that skewers sexism and fundamentalism to hilarious effect.

The Unity of All Things
USA 98 mins

In an underground lair, atomic physicist Xia Huang rules with an iron fist. Desperate to finish construction of a particle accelerator that will allow her to understand the very fundaments of existence, her own certainties are disrupted by the arrival of her incestuous teenage siblings and the haunting reminders of the land above that they bring.

A genre-defying, language-blurring, dream-kissed reverie of a film, The Unity of All Things is a disruptive, unclassifiable cinematic theory of everything. Alexander Carver and filmmaker Daniel Schmidt have created an entrancing exercise in audio-visual textures and impossible narrative leaps. This is experimental filmmaking in its purest form.

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[Image] The Unity of All Things

Tom at the Farm

Canada/France 102 mins

In a significant departure from his previous offerings, including Laurence Anyways and I Killed My Mother, Canadian cinema prodigy Xavier Dolan presents a dark, disturbing thriller based on Michel Marc Bouchard’s stage play.

Tom (played by Dolan) travels to rural Quebecois Canada for the funeral of his lover, Guillaume. While Guillaume’s mother is unaware of her deceased son’s sexuality, his homophobic older brother is determined to maintain the status quo, and embarks on a mental and physical humiliation of Tom. The arrival of Tom’s co-worker from the city, Sarah – posing as Guillaume’s girlfriend – further escalates matters.

Watch the trailer for Tom at the Farm

Love is Strange
USA/France

After nearly four decades, New York couple Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are finally able to marry. But when news of their nuptials reaches the Catholic school where George works, he is immediately fired. Faced with eviction, the two must move out of their apartment into separate dwellings, an arrangement that will test the strength of their relationship.

Director Ira Sachs (Keep the Lights On) tells a moving, funny story about the perils faced by a couple after 39 years together. Lithgow and Molina are extraordinary as the bickering, loving pair, with the supporting cast equally superb.

Watch the trailer for Love is Strange

The Melbourne International Film Festival runs from 31 July until 17 August. Visit MIFF at www.miff.com.au

[Top image] Tom at the Farm

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Rachel Cook

Rachel Cook

Rachel Cook has worked in both the queer and mainstream media for over a decade. She wrote the syndicated column, ‘Who’s Afraid of Cheeky Biscuit’, and has written numerous articles and features for the queer press. She has also written for The Age and the ABC. Before becoming editor of Melbourne Community Voice, she was a producer for ABC radio. Between 2008 and 2012, Rachel was the editor of CHERRIE. In 2010 her book, A History of Queer Australia, was published and is currently in use in high schools across Australia.

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