Reel Affirmations 2004
Review by Randy Shulman
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Monday, 10/18/2004, 6:00 PM
Shorts presentation, $0 at Cecile Goldman Theater at the DCJCC
IN THE JEWISH religion, a mitzvah is an extra special good deed, the kind of selfless act that helps to define the goodness in a person’s soul. Anyone can perform a mitzvah — you don’t have to be Jewish — given the right opportunity.
The Local Filmmaker Forum offers such an opportunity. Imagine what it means to the filmmakers to see their movies reacted to by a full house of their queer peers.
Of course, part of this particular mitzvah means having to endure Brian: The Gnome Slayer () , an unfortunate short film involving killer Barbie dolls, a young man who dresses as Wonder Woman, and (in a truly offensive and unnecessary side note) a blackface-sporting drag queen who stalks the woods and emits strange lights from her vaginal area. There is one lone moment — involving a doll’s-eye view of a bathroom floor and a woman taking a shower — that shows talent lurking within star/writer/director Brian Tosoko Bello, who one hopes will grow that talent before having to consider another, less expensive means of creative expression.
Asher Beckwitt’s Women’s Rugby, Women’s Voices () is as tedious as its title makes it sound — a clunky, unenlightening look at the Washington Furies.
Brighter notes include barefeet () , an eloquent cinematic poem, in which a young Indian girl ultimately determines that “Home is where I take my shoes off,” and the hilarious Booty Dance () which deconstructs, in a matter-of-fact scientific manner, why gay men and lesbians have such trouble sharing the same dance floor. “Collision is inevitable,” says the clinical voiceover. It’s an inspired hoot.
Finally, there’s Speaking Our Minds () , Courtenay Singer and Al Miner’s absorbing look inside the monthly lesbian poetry slam, mothertounge. Though rough around the edges, the homespun documentary captures the spirit of the event, embellishing with commentary by founder Karen Taggart and mothertongue regular Bonnie Morris (whose own depicted slam exhibits a masterful, crowd-pleasing manipulation of a single sentence). Morris calls mothertounge, “Dyke Disney,” but this cultural phenomenon goes way beyond jokey categorization. It’s a feminist art form that is cathartic for its participants and clearly thrilling for the onlookers.