Wow…SIFF is a bit…bonkers this year! A pseudo/possible bomb scare at Harvard Exit last night! Zexy porn stars turned legit actors walking the streets of Capitol Hill! Alien lesbians from another world descending on Seattle! It’s a bit cray-cray for SIFF 37. We really don’t know what to expect next…riots? tornadoes? Oprah? Maybe this IS the End Times!
The only LGBTQ themed film playing for Thursday is the encore of Man at Bath at the Egyptian at 4:30pm. Star François Sagat will again be in attendance for the Q & A. We attended last night’s premiere and it had a nice sized audience, primarily male of course, and there were only a few walk outs. I think some folks were expecting it to be more…Euro Porny and less arty. Film is, of course, very subjective and we realize that non-linear, abstract foreign films aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. I will say that I ended up loving the movie MORE the second time around…I found it to be beautiful and rather haunting with excellent performances from the cast, largely improvising from an outline by writer/director Christophe Honoré. If you like more…poetic films with a bit of blunt sexuality, then it’s a good film to check out. If strong narrative and more traditional pacing and structure is more your thing, then you might want to look elsewhere.
Another choice for today with substantial male nudity and male bonding but NOT gay oriented, is the Finnish film Steam of Life, a documentary that examines sauna culture in Scandinavia and how men use the sauna as not only a physical activity, but as a means of therapy and relaxation and a place to bond with other men, non-sexually. It screens tonight at 7pm at the Egyptian.
Women are typically encouraged to divulge their innermost secrets to friends or therapists, while most men have been taught by parents, teachers, and society to suppress their feelings. But in Finland a sacred space exists, conducive to emotional outpourings from the male population at large: the sauna. Filmmakers Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen and their small crew are welcomed (naked) into saunas around the country by a diverse range of men who bare their hearts, souls, and bodies while they steam. Whether discussing childhood traumas, addiction, or the loss of a loved one, the subjects do not seek feedback. It is the mere act of giving voice to their sorrow that seems to ease it somewhat. Moments of visual levity lighten the atmosphere: a grizzly bear peers in the window of a trailer sauna, a farmer steams in an abandoned telephone booth. But the beauty of this film lies in its simplicity. The filmmakers do not probe or draw conclusions; they respect their subjects’ pace and let the steam work its magic.
Yes, there is obviously extensive male nudity in Steam of Life but this is NOT a sex film; it’s a thoughtful look at an age old ritual and the complex relationships between men and their proscribed roles in society…Check it out.
For a different kind of film about a completely different segment of society, you’ll have to wait until Saturday, May 28 for the premiere of the comedy sci fi spoof, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same.
In a galaxy not so far away, the planet Zotz is being destroyed by the overactive emotions of its inhabitants. In order to prevent the hole in their planet’s ozone layer from growing bigger, three lesbian space aliens are sent to Earth with a mandate to fall in love and have their hearts broken. As the fetching Zotzians explore the world of speed-dating and personal ads in New York City for the perfect soon-to-be-ex mate, one finds love with Jane, an eager stationery store clerk oblivious to the fact that she’s dating an alien. Discovering the neediness of earthling women, the other two make a connection with each other. Employing campy DIY effects that would make Ed Wood envious, first-time feature writer/director Madeline Olnek has crafted an uproarious film that combines B-movie camp with a witty look at lesbian life—ultimately telling a story about a love that transcends galaxies.
I haven’t seen this film yet, but the trailer looks very, very funny and we’re going to be talking to Ms Olnek and co-star Jackie Monahan to find out the nittty gritty about the making of this film. Both will be in attendance for the screenings Saturday, at the Egyptian at 9:45pm and repeating Sunday, also at the Egyptian at 4pm. Others who have seen it, recommend it as a fun, campy romp in the tradition of those great black/white films of the 1950′s with the cheesiest SFX since Plan 9 From Outer Space…only these filmmakers chose to be cheesy ON PURPOSE! And, when was the last time you got to see a spoofy, lesbian science fiction extravaganza? (No, Contact doesnt’ count….) They don’t come along every day…