Reel Affirmations 2004
Review by Sean Bugg
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Sunday, 10/17/2004, 5:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
Due to scheduling conflicts, Ethan Mao was replaced by Queerly Asian Shorts
THE QUEERLY ASIAN Shorts program opens with a trailer for Ethan Mao, which will instantly give the audience a taste of what it’s missing. Too bad that a distribution problem caused the very promising feature to be pulled from the festival, leaving a hole in the Asian queer programming that can’t adequately be filled by this series of short films.
The best of the program is also the shortest — How Fluttering () wordlessly follows along as a woman stops by to visit her butch female friend. Stealing a glance at the butch girl’s diary leads to a chase through the city, which leads to a surprisingly sweet and charming conclusion. Obviously shot on a budget approaching negative figures, the film achieves more than many of its more expensive and technically accomplished brethren.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the world’s most depressed-looking woman is harboring a secret love for another woman in Greenstalk () . Words are absent here as well, leaving the storytelling to a few minimal actions. There just aren’t enough actions to keep the story moving.
Game Boy () is the most traditional narrative of the bunch. A videogame designer is creatively locked and experiencing ennui with his nuclear family husband and child. When a cute Asian guy moves into his building and makes a play for him, he is forced to make the necessary choices in his life. Not bad, but the lack of any sexual tension between the two leads kind of undercuts the story.
Oddly, this program features four films which employ the identical technique of monologue over static and moving images, as the narrator explores his or her own ethnic background. barefeet () slowly reveals the story of a woman with conflicting desires for her home country and her home as an out lesbian, and how those two home intersect. I Was Born Here () arrives with all the subtlety of a jackhammer, with a recitation of racially and sexually insensitive remarks that come across as less film and more poetry slam with pictures.
Far more successful are Ohm-ma and Banana Boy () , both of which deal with the problems of integrating one’s heritage with one’s life as a gay or lesbian person, and both of which integrate their language and images into a cohesive and moving whole.