For more information and reviews of every film screening at Reel Affirmations 27, check out our Complete Guide here!
The title of this magnificent collection of shorts says it all, but it’s the ways in which the coming out is achieved in each film that gives this series its sparkle. It opens with Caoi Scott’s positively inspired After that Party (★★★★★), in which Leo (Lucas Drummond) grapples with the fact that a family member may be gay. The Brazilian entry is utterly adorable, tender, sweet, brimming with heart. It’s one of the best shorts in this year’s festival.
In Poonam Brah’s Home Girl (★★★★☆), the death of a parent sparks a rift between Roya (Aysha Kara), a closeted young woman, and her secret girlfriend, Charlie (Amy Molloy). The eleven-minute narrative is suffused with pain, guilt, confrontation, and revelation. “You are afraid to be happy,” a spurned Charlie tells Roya. “And you’re a homophobe, which sucks for you because you are a massive homosexual.” Brah tells the story eloquently and efficiently, though it does feature an annoying discrepancy in its timeline midway through.
The emotional centerpiece of this grouping is La Ráfaga (The Gust) (★★★★★), set in a 2017, hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Two neighbors, a middle-aged, insecure gay man (Edgar García, who also wrote and directed the 30-minute stunner), and his beautiful, athletic neighbor Ráfaga (a winning Héctor Enrique Rodríguez), who seems to spend all of his time shirtless, connect during their isolation from society. Their friendship is the core of an unexpectedly tender, sweet romance that winds its way to a satisfying and honest conclusion. Bonus: it’s the only movie you’ll hear the phrase “Trump is a fucking racist” uttered in Spanish.
The bubbly and buoyant Paese che Vai (When in Rome) (★★★★★) delights on every possible level, as a young gay man returning to his Italian village decides to come clean with his garrulous, overbearing father, a butcher who, at one point, goes on a sensual rhapsody about the joys of meat that has to be heard to be believed. Luca Padrini’s joyful, funny short, complete with a spry, lively score, charms on every imaginable level.
Abram Ceruda’s documentary Shéár Avery: To Be Continued (★★★★☆) is an emotionally shattering portrait of a homeless, 17-year-old transgender person in the process of starting their transition. They face a huge obstacle in a similarly homeless mother, who attempts to sabotage her child’s ability to continue with the necessary hormone treatments. Ceruda’s film, compelling and powerfully moving, features one of the most harrowing sequences in recent memory, as Shéár and a photographer are chased by several vocal homophobic Los Angeles locals. It’s a gripping portrait of an astonishing — and astonishingly grounded — individual. Yet, if it feels narratively unfinished, it’s because it’s a feeder for a feature documentary, ending with a plea for donations to “help us tell this story on a bigger scale.” You’ll want to give to that cause the moment it’s over.
“I’m Coming Out” screens as part of this year’s Reel Affirmations Film Festival. For more information about the festival or to purchase tickets or festival screening passes, visit https://reelaffirmations.eventive.org.
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