DEKKOO DISPATCH 031 – ‘AMIAS’ AND ‘TOMCAT’

Title – ‘Tomcat

Director – Handl Klaus

Starring – Lukas Turtur, Philipp Hochmair

Release Date – 2016

Title – ‘Amias

Director – John Giordano

Starring – Joren Seldeslachts, Celine Verbeeck, Marco Bellusci

Release Date – 2013

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Heya! It’s a great week on Dekkoo as we’ve added ‘Tomcat‘, a brilliant, beautiful, and moving portrait of a gay relationship at the edge – so to speak. It won the Teddy award for best feature film in 2016 and in a little bit I’ll talk more about the Teddy in case you’re unfamiliar with it.

But first! It’s always good to start with a short film before diving into the main course and this week we’re bringing you ‘Amias‘ from John Girodano. It’s a lyrical short film that deals with one man’s confusion between the woman he cares for and the man he loves. The music in the film really takes you on a meaningful journey through his splintered mind and it’s the perfect set-up to the intense relationship drama of ‘Tomcat‘.

Tomcat‘ comes to us from Austria. Written and directed by Handl Klaus ‘Tomcat‘ delves into the relationship between Andreas and Stefan. It seems they have everything: money, friends, love, but one day everything they took for granted comes tumbling down after an act of random violence changes the dynamic of their relationship. I don’t want to reveal what the act of violence is, but it proves that even small amounts of hurt can become amplified beyond control.

Since I can’t really delve into the film dynamics due to spoilers it’s the perfect time to talk about a prestigious award you might not know much about – The Teddy. Every year during the Berlinale festival the best LGBTQ feature, short, and documentary films are awarded grand prizes by an independent jury that solely focuses on the queer films presented at the Berlinale. Started in 1987 by Wieland Speck (current president of the Panorama section of Berlinale) and Manfred Salzgeber (filmmaker and founder of Edition Salzgeber – a German film distribution company) the Teddy award is now the most famous prize for a queer film at a major film festival. Since its inception it’s awarded prizes to many now-famous filmmakers like Todd Haynes, Pedro Almodovar, Gus Van Sant, and Francois Ozon.

At Dekkoo we have quite a few Teddy award-winners – ‘In The Name Of‘, ‘Raging Sun, Raging Sky‘, ‘Absent‘, and ‘The Bubble‘ just to name a few! You can check out the full list of winners here.

Enjoy!

 

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Watch ’em with:  A lover you can cry with.

Mix it with: Lots of alcohol.

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New This Week – 8/11/17

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Winner of the coveted Teddy Award for Best LGBT Feature at the Berlin International Film Festival, this provocative drama follows Andreas and Stefan, a gay couple whose happy life together is shaken to the core after an unexpected and inexplicable outburst of violence. ‘Tomcat’ is now available on Dekkoo!

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Connor is going to kill himself. But first, he’s throwing a going away party to say goodbye to all his friends. Problem is, he doesn’t seem to have any friends. Watch ‘The Going Away Party’ now available on Dekkoo!

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Trip to Hell and Back‘ is a documentary follows the true story of Trip Harting, one of the most famous horse riders in the United States who led a double life as one of the largest meth dealers in Washington DC’s gay underground drug scene.

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Coming next week: James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, bares his body and soul in this twisted portrait of a tortured real-life artist.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 030 – ‘NORTH SEA TEXAS’

Title – ‘North Sea Texas

Director – Bavo Defurne

Starring – Jelle Florizoone, Luk Wyns, Thomas Coumans, Eva van der Gucht

Release Date – 2011

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Days spent playing card games, sitting on sandy beaches, listening to old records, drawing pictures of your crush, pining after romance. Bavo Defurne is a master at evoking these deep emotional moments that leap onto the screen with the clarity of the present and the warmth of nostalgia and longing. Before making his first film, ‘North Sea Texas‘, Bavo spent years travelling the LGBTQ film festival circuit with 4 short films that each contained queer longing, magic, history, and everyday life.

North Sea Texas‘ tells the story of Pim, a dreamer who more than anything else wants to be with Gino, his handsome older neighbor and friend. Early on in the film Gino seems happy to return Pim’s feelings albeit with the hesitance of a closeted gay man. After Gino gets a girlfriend however things definitely fall apart. We mostly follow Pim in his daily routine – dealing with his party-loving mother, his avoidance of Gino’s sister who has a crush on him, and the new boarder in his house, Zoltan, a handsome gypsy. Pim’s bravery in the face of everything is breathtaking and inspiring and the movie is worth watching for that alone. Of course the incredibly handsome Gino helps things as well.

I was lucky enough to interview Bavo shortly after the film came out back in 2012. Here are some highlights where we talk about distribution, homophobic Flemish audiences, and steamy romance:

F: About distributors; I know you were involved with that a while ago for the compilation DVD of your short films. What is it like working with them again?
B: Oh, it really depends. At this point, I’m very happy working with Strand on . But we’re just in the first steps now, so I’m still curious as to how it will go. In Holland, it was fine, but I think they could have done more, especially because the lady who plays the mother is actually very popular in Holland. I think they should have used that much more in the press. They didn’t maximize their potential. Right now, things are great in the U.K., because the film is now in its third or fourth week in the U.K. cinemas, and it’s still running, which is amazing.
F: Yeah, that’s pretty great for a gay film.
B: And for a Flemish gay film!
F: Yeah, that too. Subtitles! Oh my god!
B: Flemish isn’t really spoken anywhere else in the world, so I’m very proud of what they did in the U.K. Because, once I had finished the film, I had done what I set out to do; I couldn’t make it better. But sometimes when your producer gives the finished film to the distributors and they want to make it ‘better’ by actually putting in some work. For example the poster that Peccadillo created is very beautiful and it’s an image that didn’t actually exist. They collaged it together from various images taken on the set. That’s how creative and smart some of the distributors can be.
F: Do you not get the creative final say, when it comes to the distributors?
B: No, not at all. For the Belgian poster, you can see the boys, but they didn’t want them to be any closer together in the picture than that.
F: Did a gay company handle the distribution?
B: No. It was a big family chain and they thought it would be too controversial. To which I thought: “Why take the film in the first place?” The way they handled it was really awful. Homophobic, actually. I don’t know why they wanted to distribute it. It was a homophobic, art-phobic company. Anyway, the person who worked there and was responsible for that is now gone, and maybe it will get better. I hope so. For them.
F: Is homosexuality controversial where you live?
B: Yeah. Well, they said no, no. It was because it’s with young kids that it was controversial.
F: What do you think about that? Because that peaked my curiosity. I know there weren’t many explicit scenes in the film, but if there had been, do you think this film would have had trouble getting released? Say there were more explicit sex scenes between a 15-year old and an 18-year old. I guess for your ideal artistic expression, would you have made the film more explicit?
B: No. Because, it’s not a porn film, right? A porn film is to excite people only, and not to tell a story. Is sex an emotion? I don’t know. This film is more about emotions: people laugh, people sigh. So with the sex scenes, we thought, well in the book they’re there, but they’re poetically explained. You know in poetry you don’t have to use the word ‘penis’ or ‘masturbation’ to talk about very intense love scenes. But for a film, you have to show something. So our artistic problem was how to stay poetic and beautiful and still tell the audience what’s going on. Pim discovers sexuality and his body and how he feels about another boy, so we couldn’t not show it. In an action movie, it’s easy not to show sex. In action movies, sometimes there’s a romantic subplot and they kiss almost, and then it’ll cut to an action scene. But this film is really about love, so you have to show all the key steps in the process. I think the love between Pim and Gino really changes from the beginning of the film to the end. You see how they get closer, how things get more intense, and they do more things with their bodies. So that was the balance we sought: to be precise without showing pornographic images.
F: I thought that for how “steamy” the sensual scenes were, it was still extremely romantic. And let’s not even focus on when they’re kissing in the tent, but after, when Gino’s mom asks Gino, “How did you sleep in the tent?” and Gino slyly replied, “Very well. We should do it more.” That was almost even better than the sex, showing that there was going to be more, and that Gino was very attracted to Pim.
B: Yeah. You see it in his eyes; he played that very well.
F: I think that’s one of the few times we see a quick smile from Pim. We don’t see him smile too often.
B: Yeah. He doesn’t smile often. He’s very…not unhappy, but he keeps his emotions to himself. He doesn’t have someone to share his emotions with. He keeps everything internal.
F: So, speaking of keeping things internal, he has that box he keeps a lot of his memories inside. Did you have something like that as a kid?
B: Yeah. I think many of us have them. I still have boxes. I keep a lot of things. I thought I was the only one, but now that I’ve made the film, a lot of people tell me, “Oh, I have a box like that, and do you know what’s in it? Hair.” At the London premiere, many people shared their box experiences with me. Maybe we should make a website and people could post what’s in their boxes. I haven’t really kept my things in a box, but I definitely have a lot of things. When I talked to my actors, I explained things to them. My main actor was a 14 year old, so I tried to explain things in simple words. When I talked about the box, I explained that the box is a fetish. Pim is a bit of a fetishist. So when you love someone and you don’t get him, then there’s something physical to replace or symbolize that love. That’s fetishism. And you actually love things more than the person, because it’s the things you can touch and feel and love and the person is so far away or so unreachable. So that’s how I explained to him what the box is about. That’s what a lot of our boxes are about. Not a fetish for rubber or fabric, but a fetish for someone to whom you can’t show your love.

 

 

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Watch it with:  A romantic partner

Mix it with: A drink from your childhood

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New This Week – 8/4/17

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When his long-term partner hurls him headfirst into fatherhood, troubled TV personality Steven Evans starts to shed his playboy reputation and embrace his new loving family bond… until an unexpected visitor arrives to shake everything up. Watch ‘The Dream Children’ on Dekkoo!

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New Year’s Eve 1999 finds college-bound Clark and Trevor concerned about the future of their friendship, and a request for Clark to be Trevor’s wingman ensures things will never be the same again. Watch ‘Tomorrow’ on Dekkoo!

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Making It Big’ is a reality series that follows the lives of seven friends, each with a unique connec-tion to the LGBTQ+ community, living abroad in Barcelona. While attempting to establish their ca-reers in a foreign land, their struggles coming of age and coming out in Ireland and Great Britain are revealed.

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Coming next week: A harrowing relationship drama will linger with you long after the credits roll. It won the coveted Teddy Award at Berlin International Film Festival.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 029 – ‘I KILLED MY MOTHER’

Title – ‘I Killed My Mother

Director – Xavier Dolan

Release Date – 2009

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Hey Dekkoo’ers! We’ve got a special treat for you today. Film critic Kyle Turner is the guest blogger today and has offered a critical analysis of ‘I Killed My Mother‘, the first film by Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan. The film concerns the relationship (at times a very bitter relationship) between a gay high-schooler (played by Xavier Dolan) and his mother. It’s got great visuals, awesome, music, and super super sexy guys. Take it away Kyle!

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Xavier Dolan may have beaten most of us to the punch when it comes to crafting your identity around moody monologues told to a camera, with abstracted close-ups and a performative sense of intimacy between the audience and the lone subject. At least, as far as the Internet age goes; though it’s inconclusive, the first YouTube coming out video was, according to KnowYourMeme, posted in 2007; the first popular YouTube coming out video was posted in 2011. The Quebecois filmmaker’s debut feature, ‘I Killed My Mother’, debuted at Cannes in 2009, directly between those public confessionals.

True, Dolan, or rather Dolan’s veiled alter ego Hubert, never explicitly comes out to anyone in the film, much less his on screen mother Chantale (Ann Dorval), nor is the angsty videotaping anything new, even within queer art, but there is something oddly profound about a young queer man treating the camera, and a movie audience, like the void in which it is safe to reveal your most dysfunctional relationship and how it impacts you.

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“I don’t know what happened,” Hubert says, unable to find the root of the tensions between he and his mother. He almost never looks directly into the camera during these soliloquies, making the videos, shot in black and white (against the rest of the film’s rather colorful palette), reveal in Hubert an ambivalence. There is the call for attention, the desire to confide, and yet perhaps a trace of shame. There’s little more devastating than knowing a once loving, close relationship with one’s parent has decayed into a series of endless arguments, nitpicks, and battles over how power has shifted as a child moves recklessly from adolescence to adulthood. It is hard to admit that such a dynamic has soured, to you beyond fixing. And the jealousy that infects your every move, jealousy over the peers and friends and boyfriend whose parental relationships are normal, comparably delightful, makes you ache.

The ache is what colors those quasi-confessional videos, where Hubert rocks back and forth between vitriolic tirades padded with mildly philosophical musings about parent/child relationships (which are of the utmost showy, in a fun way), to a potent honesty about his regrets, about how he still loves his mother in spite of their fractured relationship. “It’s a paradox of having a mother that you’re incapable of loving, but incapable not to love.”

Certainly, Hubert is bratty; brattiness and insolence are heavily defining features of Dolan’s films, particularly ‘I Killed My Mother‘, ‘Heartbeats’, ‘Mommy’, and ‘It’s Only the End of the World’. While he has matured as a filmmaker and his ability to delve into the complexities of different kinds of relationships, the cheekiness that was there from day one still appears in his work; it’s either part of his charm or a turn-off. But that audacious brusqueness is what shapes his films as well; ‘I Killed My Mother‘ is well-aware of its rudeness, and it’s almost proud of it. It thrives in aesthetic approaches which reek of art school fag, an impudent rejoinder to conventional straight filmmaking, both earnest about how the film wants you to get lost in paint splashed against a wall and random shots of fake butterflies, but as much as a mockery of it. Without that backhandedness or brazen quality, the film’s emotional core would not work, at least not in the same way.

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If the film’s primary tension is the way that Hubert communicates his relationship with his mother – flippant and volatile with her in the room, a bit more contemplative alone and with the camera – ‘I Killed My Mother’ needs something that hits the sweet spot of sweet and sour for Hubert’s character and therefore his perspective. You can’t let him off the hook for being sassy, nor can you help yourself from sympathizing. Dolan, as a writer, has struck a balance between someone who is able to be sympathized with but also worthy of being chastised, and back and forth. Without the rudeness, Hubert’s rawness and bareness wouldn’t feel as striking or resonant.

The film’s irony lays in understanding the kind of person who is both outwardly emotional but internalizes all of the doubt and shame and sadness. Angst and brattiness are, as always, only a shield for something else. He has no one else to really talk to, not even the teacher (Suzanne Clement) who lets him stay over – he’s never as intimate with her as he is to his camera. There, his blunt armor remains in place. It’s protecting the boy who’s heartbroken at his inability to understand his toxic relationship with his mother, never mind repair the damage. One of Dolan’s most accomplished scenes is in his first film. Remember the video where Hubert talks about the paradox of being incapable of loving his mother and incapable of not loving her? She finds it. She looks at the tiny LCD screen. Silently, her face changes. She’s heartbroken, too.

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Watch it with:  Your loving mother 🙂

Mix it with: A Canadian white wine

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