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MQFF- An Ordinary Family

27 Mar

Though films focussing on ‘coming out’ and ‘family reactions’ do appear a lot in Queer cinema, and at times one does wish everyone could just move past it, it is because it is a process that is constantly being faced by both those in and out of the Queer community. Whilst societies consciousness at large may be changing toward the LGBTI community and such issues as equal marriage, adoption rights, death rights, and so on -with many being played out and debated more and more in mainstream outlets- it is still something quite different to have a direct family member to put a face to the cause. It is this struggle of going from only hearing about or have a distant acquaintance with such an issue to being thrust into a position where you are expected to make a decision that will have real-life effect, and it is the build-up and consequences of one brothers decision that An Ordinary Family (Mike Akel) focuses on.

Seth (Greg Wise), having apparently tried for years to be what his family wanted and expected of him, eventually gave up, moved away, and started a relationship with William (Chad Anthony Miller). Yet a few years on the need for family approval and acceptance is still strong. Thus, summer finds Seth going back to Texas for the annual family vacation and bringing William with him. However it quickly becomes apparent that only his sister-in-law new that Seth was not only bringing William but that he was gay. Cue awkward family dinner, awkward family breakfast, awkward family conversations, etcetera.
With the father now deceased, the family patriarch is Thomas (Troy Schremmer), a Minister who not only disapproves of Seth’s “lifestyle choices” and doesn’t want William to be alone with his children, but also resents Seth for abandoning the family after their family died. It is this strained relationship that the film centres around as other family members slowly come to accept William. One such convert is Chris, who is married to Seth’s sister Sharon and has a habit of making the most inappropriate comments. Initially he not only denies that Seth is gay but then becomes worried that William will make a pass at him. However, as the week plays out, Chris and William end up bonding over various aspects of their lives.

Akel’s tight directing and strong ensemble cast make this film one of the better films that focuses on the issues still facing many individuals and families over coming out and everything attached to it.

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MQFF- Break My Fall

18 Mar

Break My Fall (2011) documents the last four days of a couple in their mid-twenties as they try to navigate through the indie-scene of East London where people wake up at night and taking drugs every few hours to get through the day is par for the course. As Liza’s (Kat Redstone) 25th birthday approaches her 4-year relationship with girlfriend Sally (Sophie Anderson) seems to unravel before the viewers eyes. The characters themselves, however, seem to be completely unaware that not only is their relationship crumbling around them but, really, the relationship ended long ago and they are really just clinging to memories of the past and a misguided hope for the future.
The insecure Liza and disaffected Sally are also in a band together, yet can barely manage a rehearsal due to their chaotic home life. This band opens up the introduction of their two closest friends; Vin (Kai Brandon Ly)-a hustler trying to woo Sally away from Liza-, and Jamie (Collin Clay Chace) -a barman who is trying to find the perfect man- with the two men being as oblivious about the dark undercurrent as the two girls.

Written, produced, and directed by first timer Kanchi Wichmann the film has a very ‘this is my first film’ feel to it. Edgy youths with asymmetric haircuts and cool clothes, music (Wichmann also has a history in music, and film-clip style montages are abound), un-focused images, relationship angst, hand-held camera work… you name it, this film has it. But it appears to work, largely due to the strong casting of Redstone and Anderson.
The film does lag in places, especially when dealing with elements outside of the central relationship, possibly due to the fact that the film was originally conceived to be a short. But Wichmann is able to pull your attention back to the lives of the protagonists, most notably with the scenes where she appears to interweave what feels to be memories with current events taking place in the lives of the two girls, leaving the viewer recognising that this bleak and doomed relationship was once something fertile and beautiful, and not something to be taken lightly.

Another screening of Break My Fall is on Thursday 22nd, 5.30pm at Greater Union.

MQFF Film Review: Room in Rome

29 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

Director Julio Medem is hardly the first to create a film focusing on the chance encounter of two strangers far from home. Indeed, Room in Rome is based on Matías Bize’s En le cama, which owes much to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. However, by turning the story on its head and focusing on the relationship of two women, Medem has created a fresh and poignant character study. Continue reading

MQFF Film Review: Paulista

29 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

While the title Paulista refers to the main thoroughfare through São Paulo, Brazil, and its inhabitants, the original title – Quanto Dura o Amor? / How Long Does Love Last? – better captures the brief and fleeting relationships that are found in this frantically paced city. Continue reading