Review: Iris Prize Festival 2013 – Day Two
It has been the second day of the Iris Prize. I have seen so much and taken in great hoards of audio and visual cinematic representations and I know more is on the way. I do have the intention to see as much as I can, if not every film which is physically possible to see (only two clash on Saturday and I know which I will certainly chose).
We commenced with the first two sets of short programmes. These nine films were highly contrasting and made for an eclectic experience. It opened with a harrowing start with Teens Like Phil by American directors David Rosler and Dominic Haxton.
This for me was unbearable at times in its detailing. The character of Phil, a schoolboy has a friend who may also be gay and the onset of bullying is enough to tip Phil over the edge. With an uncle who is homeless, drugged up and living in the forest, the idea that he too was gay didn’t exactly help these young males. As they sit by him for a moment, the camera focuses on the boys legs getting closer as they are about to sit down. A tender little moment which is quickly gone.
This had real beauty in it and a feverish sense of horror as Phil is left with nowhere else to go. The void beckoned. He responded. But was he saved?
The other three in the first set were a curious enough. Urmi by Jehangir Jani, saw an Indian man with his struggle to become a women. The Last Time I Saw Richard by Nicholas Verso made for engaging viewing. A sort of dark fairy tale of nightmares and black ‘nightlins’ who taunt Richard and his roommate in their sleep.
The effects here added to the atmosphere of the film. It doesn’t fell like an end either. Would we see a sequel, I wonder? For the last film in the first set, Straight With You by Daan Bol was a documentary (the only one in today’s sets, unless Urmi counts?) about a Dutch boy of 11, who is adamant he is gay. His best friend is a girl, who for a brief time was his girlfriend.
The look on her face of not really caring about him coming out to her, made for delightful viewing. If children are shown the full scale of things in life bigots wouldn’t bang on so such today. A great scope on a marvellous child, who isn’t afraid to be who he is, even if he won’t come out to his school mates.
After cavorting over lunch in Bellinis next door, the second set opened with perhaps my favourite film yet. Daniel by another Dutch filmmaker Vincent Fitz-Jim was a miniature of delicacy and warmth. The title character finds a fallen bird from the skies and attempts to look after it. With his sister (or friend) they see the other slightly taller boy looming around the bird and Daniel is soon to make a pass at him.
But does he feel the same way? Not a single word is said in this film and it all the better for it. Its charm and sublime cinematography is making me rave about it and defend it over those who didn’t like it at the festival (fisty cuffs for anyone who disagrees!).
Spooners by Bryan Horch, a hilarious take on a gay couple buying a new mattress. Bumpy Night by Julie Kreuzer, a view on an German actor, crashing and burning one night after a great performance and keen on getting his ex-boyfriend back. This was the longest of these films and had plenty of time to pan out.
At first, not very interesting, but somehow finds its way as a fine study of a person who is hell-bent on getting what they want. I don’t have much to say about Deflated by Dustin Shroff. It just a boy messing around with red balls in a supermarket, then choosing a deflated green one and leaving. That’s pretty much it. Very well filmed though.
The last short for today was by Shaz Bennett and was called Alaska Is A Drag. A black gay drag queen living in Alaska has a terrible time working in a fishing factory. But when a new guy comes into town things are turned upside down. This was typical in parts and an ending which was expected. It’s not to say I didn’t take the film as an enjoyable experience. You did want the two of them to date.
So as if that wasn’t enough for one days viewing, two more features to follow!
I had been speaking to Diemo Kemmesies all day. With attempts for me not to get too complicated in what I say, the German film maker informed me he enjoys the plays of Samuel Beckett. This is most evident in his film Silent Youth. Two young men engage on a sort of relationship after chance meetings on the sidewalk and a bridge.
Their relationship consists of a lot of silence, awkwardness and realisations. One may be schizophrenic which Diemo admitted was true in a post show Q&A. It remained brittle and detached, yet still holding onto a sense of hope. I never expected them to kiss since so much seemed riding on it to go in the other direction. But these two feel like them getting together was the worst thing to happen to both of themâ€¦
We received another screening of Burger from last night, since the projector had a moment and blacked out the last few seconds of the film.
Finally, it seems that if any one wants to be gay, it’s certainly James Franco. He and Travis Mathews have attempted to recreate the kinky, yet now destroyed parts of the film Cruising, staring Al Pacino.
Interior. Leather Bar. attempts to recreate these scenes. If ever there was a face of uncertainty, its that of actor Val Lauren, who is straight and for the sake of the film has to bare witness to a fair deal of gay goings on. His indecisive nature is shot down by Franco who thinks much more openly about these things (as we all should).
It does raise many questions, such as why would they bother to recreate what has been destroyed? What new footage they had created remained highly intoxicating with an immense sense of abandon. I wanted to see much more of it, since they speak of forty minutes of original material being destroyed.
As the festival programme says: ‘Interior. Leather Bar. defies easy categorization.’ Aint that the truth.
Tomorrow is going to be a late one with the last film ending past midnight.
I shall hang in there kittensâ€¦
Weeping Tudor Rates:
Shorts Programme 1 Rating: 7/10.
Shorts Programme 1 Favourite: Teens Like Phil.
Shorts Programme 2 Rating: 8/10.
Shorts Programme 2 Favourite: Daniel.
Silent Youth Rating: 7/10
Interior. Leather Bar. Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
Related Article: Review: Iris Prize Festival 2013 - Day #1 @ Chapter
Photo Credit: Iris Prize