14 Jan QUEER SELECTIONS TO CATCH AT VFF
From Australia to France to Israel – these films prove that queer representation has no borders.
Here are the queer films to catch at this year’s festival.
Beyond The Horizon (Le Milieu de l’Horizon)
In the scorching summer of 1976, farmers face a violent heatwave threatening their crops and the lives of their animals. Under the relentless sun, Nicole and Jean, owners of a poultry farm, are on the brink when their chickens succumb one after the other. Their 13-year-old son, Gus, has to help his father with the chores, even if he would much rather read comics and go on adventures. One day a breath of fresh air arrives in the form of Nicole’s new friend, lively and spirited Cécile. The newcomer will quickly turn the life of the family, already in the midst of a crisis, upside down. Witnessing the destruction of his nuclear family, traditional farming and patriarchy, Gus has to grow up fast, leaving the innocence of childhood behind.
Bolstered by performances from standout actresses Laetitia Casta (Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar), Clémence Poésy (most recognizable from her turn as Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter series) and the outstanding newcomer Luc Bruchez, Beyond The Horizon is a poignant story perfectly tackling subjects ranging from the impact of climate change, the place of women in society, desires and the end of childhood.
My Father Marianne (Min pappa Marianne)
Hanna, a woke 28 year old aspiring journalist, who strives for social justice is having no luck in convincing the top Stockholm media outlets to give her a chance.
After a list of job rejections and finding her boyfriend in bed with someone else, the defeated Hanna reluctantly opts to return to her little hometown of Alingsås to live with her parents and brother. She gets a definitely-not-a-dream-job at the local news station where she has to cover potato parades instead of the marches for equal rights she had hoped for.
Her world is soon turned even more upside down when her beloved father, a respected priest in the community, informs his family about his lifelong feminine side, wanting to come out as Marianne. None of her courses in gender studies have prepared Hanna for this, and she loathes Marianne for stealing her father from her. But for Marianne there is no return. At last, she must be who she really is.
Loosely based on author-journalist Ester Roxberg’s autobiographical novel My father Ann-Christine-the memory of a secret, My Father Marianne is at heart a universal story about maturing and expectations, but above all it’s a touching examination of a young woman’s relationship with her beloved father.
Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox, known for his popular gay-themed films, presents this well-acted romantic dramedy with a travel theme and a dollop of serious politics. Michael, a New York travel writer, arrives in Tel Aviv to pen a quick take on Israel. He has rented an Airbnb from Tomer, a twenty-something film student who, wishing to disabuse the older man of his clichés, agrees to serve as his guide.
Instead of sites or museums, Tomer introduces Michael to his coterie of young artists who lament the difficulty of working in Israel. Tomer himself plans to emigrate to Germany, where, ironically in Michael’s view, he seeks greater artistic support. For his part, Michael explains why contemplating middle-aged fatherhood has caused a spousal rift and growing sadness. Their intergenerational queer connection deepens after an awkward comment by Tomer’s doting Jewish mother inadvertently makes the men see themselves as more than mere strangers.
Summer of 85 (Été 85)
From one of VFF’s favourite directors, François Ozon (Frantz, 8 Women, Swimming Pool), we bring you a lavish 1980s period piece – a bittersweet coming-of-age tale set on the coast of Normandy.
Loosely based on Aidan Chambers’s 1982 novel Dance on My Grave, the film centres around a fresh summer romance. The gloomy, working-class 16-year-old Alex (Félix Lefebvre), caught in a sudden thunderstorm on a sailboat, is rescued by the charming 18-year-old David (Benjamin Voisin). The boys immediately become best friends and lovers. For thrill-seeking and bourgeois David, coddled since birth by his eccentric mother (a hilarious Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), it seems to be no more than a game… with dark consequences.
Bursting with colourful summer scenes and teeming with charismatic performances, Summer of 85 is an alluring throwback to Ozon’s early films such as Criminal Lovers and Swimming Pool. This is a perfectly breezy and sun-drenched coming-of-age love story that will remind you why we all love French cinema.
The Capote Tapes
If you think you are already familiar with Truman Capote’s life then think again. From the very beginning when you meet Capote’s adopted daughter, you will be set back on your heels as you think to yourself, “I didn’t know that.”
While director Ebs Burnough doesn’t leave out the familiar. With access to the recently discovered and very frank George Plimpton tapes there are new insightful revelations into this complex man. The tapes focus on the ‘novel’ Answered Prayers, where after a few salacious chapters published in Esquire, brought about Capote’s downfall with the New York high-society set.
Burnough’s debut feature marks the start of what is likely to be an interesting career. He digs deep to illustrate Capote’s use of personal experiences for Other Voices, Other Rooms and Breakfast at Tiffany’s that revealed his mother’s life and lifestyle.
The Capote Tapes is a fun film that, while revealing society life decades ago, finds that Capote predicted the desire for endless gossip that is now social media.