For more information and reviews of every film screening at Reel Affirmations 27, check out our Complete Guide here!
Embracing and expressing an inner truth is the subject of this shorts program, and it opens with the beautiful and moving French short Beauty Boys (★★★★☆), about burgeoning drag queens Leo (Simon Royer) and Yaya (Mathias Houngmikpo), who plan to perform during their small village’s open stage night — much to the horror of Leo’s older brother Jules (Marvin Dubart). Florent Gouëlou’s film charts obvious waters, but is no less enjoyable because of it, as Leo and Yaya are aided by “big city” cousin and scene-stealing drag queen Cookie Kunty (Romain Eck) to deliver a showstopping performance.
Maritere (Awilda Sterling) is forced to put her mourning on hold when Angela (Magali Carrasquillo) crashes her husband’s funeral in Pati Cruz’s La Amante (The Mistress) (★★★★★). Past emotions are dredged up while Maritere’s son Fernando (Modesto Lacén) watches, convinced this woman is a past affair of his father’s and determined to eject her from the vigil. Naturally things aren’t that simple, and two wonderful performances from Sterling and Carrasquillo keep things simmering in this delightful short film, as the women dance around the other guests, the past, and their true feelings.
While this year’s Reel Affirmations is mostly virtual, if ever there was a film that demanded a live audience — and their live reaction — it’s Henry Baker’s frankly jaw-dropping documentary Piss Off (★★★★☆). It tracks the “performance art” of Athleticpisspig, whose fetish for urine manifests in daring, audacious public displays of pissing, be that solo, with another person, or full-on group acts, everywhere from restrooms to public transport to out in the open of international city streets. It’s shocking, vulgar, occasionally nauseating, but always utterly fascinating — and what’s more, Baker’s documentary is tightly structured, filmed, and edited, including talking-head commentary from fans of Athleticpisspig’s work and the anonymous man himself. Is it art? Is it porn? Whatever it is, Piss Off is fascinating, shocking, and absolutely worth watching.
Rounding out the True Confessions program is PLUS (★★★★★), a beautiful sucker punch of a film from Dominican-American filmmaker Andrew Rodriguez. Rosbel Franklin turns in a devastating performance as Zaire, a young, Black student coming to terms with an unexpected HIV diagnosis. Rodriguez’s 13-minute film is at once heartbreaking and uplifting, as Zaire hides the truth from his concerned mother, before finally finding the courage to break the news to his best friend. A timely reminder that, for all the incredible advancements made in treating those living with HIV, that first diagnosis can be truly earth-shattering — and sharing that truth with those you trust can make all the difference in the world.
“True Confessions” 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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