DEKKOO DISPATCH 047 – ‘DESERT MIGRATION’

Title – ‘Desert Migration

Director – Daniel F. Cardone

Release Date – 2015

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Derek Jarman. Keith Haring. Freddie Mercury. Rock Hudson. Liberace. Michel Foucualt. Leigh Bowery. David Wojnarowicz. Brad Davis. Perry Ellis. Arthur Ashe. Rudolf Nureyev.

Today is December 1st – World AIDS Day. Today we recall and mourn all of our role models, friends, family members, and lovers that have passed away far too early from HIV/AIDS. It’s also a day for us to raise awareness of all the work that needs to be done to erase the virus from the face of the earth. An estimated 36.7 million people are living with the disease and almost 5,000 will contract it today. We’ve made great progress in education, treatment, and prevention, but there’s still so much more to be done.

On Dekkoo we’re bringing you the documentary ‘Desert Migration‘ by Daniel F. Cardone. An official selection of Outfest and Frameline this film takes a deep look at 13 older gay men living with HIV in Palm Springs, CA. From morning medications to afternoon meditations we get to experience their daily routines and thoughts. Half of the people living with HIV in the United States are over the age of 50 and much of this generation are gay men whose lives were saved by antiretroviral treatments in the 90s and are now coping with both that intense medication and plain old age. Palm Springs is not only a haven for Los Angeles denizens desperate for a break from busy city life, but it’s also a mecca for gay men. They come for the beautiful scenery and lively gay social life and stay for the exact same reasons. Once you’re there it’s really hard to go back to city life. It’s so peaceful and serene and warm!

All of the men in this documentary are heroes. They’ve overcome insurmountable odds to still be alive and the fact that most of them have a positive outlook on life is astounding. This film isn’t an advertisement for Palm Springs, but they all credit the oasis in helping them find joy and meaning in their lives. All of their stories are similar yet different. Eric wants to find a boyfriend who doesn’t embraces his identity as an HIV-positive gay man. Steven is looking for any sort of relationship. Joel loves being healthy enough to go back to work. Doug is most at home in the gym cruising the guys and trying to look his best. I found this documentary to be incredibly uplifting and inspiring. The cinematography of the desert was stunning and made me yearn to be back in Palm Springs’ warm and loving embrace. While the film is incredibly inspiring, it doesn’t have an agenda it’s trying to push beyond the message that life finds a way. A way to cope, to rebuild, and most of all to have hope.

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Watch it with: A few close friends

Mix it with: A glass of white wine

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New This Week – 11/24/17

Craig Chester stars in the gay cinema classic, 'Swoon'

Long considered a hard-to-find movie, this stylish gay indie classic from 1992 tells the true story of gay lovers Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr., who kidnapped and killed a child in the early 1920s in an attempt to get away with “the perfect murder.” They didn’t. They got caught and soon became notorious figures in the media. Watch ‘Swoon’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay short film 'Candy'

In the short horror/thriller ‘Candy‘ from director Mark Bessenger (Bite Marks, The Last Straight Man), a man calls into phone sex lines looking for a potential romantic partner. Vic, a college student, is interested, but is too nervous to accept, prompting the mysterious caller to take matters into his own hand.

This is the art for the documentary 'That Guy...Who Was In That Thing

You know the face. You’ve seen him in a million things. But who is he? The documentary ‘That Guy…Who Was In That Thing‘ looks at sixteen actors and details their ups and downs as they struggle to forge careers in Hollywood. They’ve played cops, lawyers, bosses, best friends, psychopaths, politicians and everything in between. Now you’ll know who they are.

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 Coming Next Week: “In this moody, occasionally dreamlike drama, it’s not what happens to Jasper and his friends that’s important, so much as what happens within Jasper’s soul.” – Eric D. Snider, Moviefone

DEKKOO DISPATCH 045 – ‘CHRIS & DON. A LOVE STORY’

Title – ‘Chris & Don. A Love Story

Director – Tina Mascara, Guido Santi

Release Date – 2007

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“I think about you all the time, and about times I might have been kinder and more understanding, and I make many resolutions for the future — some of which I hope I’ll keep.”
-Christopher Isherwood to Don Bachardy

The touching, informative, and heartwarming love story between prolific writer Christopher Isherwood and his partner of over 30 years, Don Bachardy is superbly brought to life by Tina Mascara & Guido Santi in their documentary entitled ‘Chris & Don. A Love Story‘. After having heard about the film since its release in 2007 I finally was able to watch it last night and was glued to my couch with longing. As you’re watching Don Bachardy talk about his life with Christopher you begin to understand how special their relationship was and you have this urge to jump in a time machine and go swimming with them in Los Angeles circa 1955.

What differentiates this from a typical ‘I had a really long gay relationship movie’ is the fact that Don and Christopher had a 30-year age difference between them and they started dating when Don was only 18. Of course this caused all kinds of friction outside of their relationship; Christopher even had to leave his apartment when his landlady said it couldn’t go on. Inside the relationship however things were very different. They lovingly (and realistically) imagined themselves as a young cat (Don) and a lame horse (Christopher) and encouraged each other to have affairs outside the relationship. Christopher felt that he was a father to Don (‘without any of the downsides’ he joked in his diary). The other element heavily focused on is how an 18-year old develops (both emotionally and professionally) in the shadow of such a huge talent like Christopher Isherwood.

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Quick history lesson for anyone not aware of who Christopher Isherwood is because he’s pretty darn famous which is a big angle explored in the doc. Isherwood was born in England in 1904 and after failing college ended up in Berlin due to the enthusiastic letters sent from there by W.H. Auden who he become good friends with. There he was able to finally live his life as a gay man and have sex with working-class German boys which he preferred vastly over his upper-class British counterparts. His rise to fame came with the publication of ‘The Berlin Stories’ which was then made more famous by the movie ‘Cabaret’ starring Liza Minnelli. Other notable novels include ‘Christopher and His Kind’ & ‘A Single Man’.

The documentary doesn’t entirely rely on Don’s narrative point of view (although that is the majority). Many Isherwood scholars give notes based on interviews or Christopher’s exhaustive diaries that were published after his death. There are also some fun celebrity cameos like Liza Minelli, John Boorman, and Gloria Stuart. One of the most special elements of this film is definitely the archival footage that they were able to restore. Obviously Don and Chris were very interested in Super8 photography and we get fantastic snapshot of their vacations, parties, and general home life. Don almost always has a big smile on his face and you quickly understand why everyone (especially Chris) loved Don; he made you happy and that’s exactly how I felt through the whole documentary.

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Watch it with: Ideally a boyfriend, but an imaginary boyfriend will do in a pinch!

Mix it with: Whatever drink makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside 🙂

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New This Week – 11/17/17

This is the art for the gay documentary 'Chris & Don. A Love Story'

Here is the essential story of a love between creative geniuses Christopher Isherwood (whose book ‘The Berlin Stories’ inspired the musical and film ‘Cabaret’) and American portrait artist Don Bachardy. Ripe with history and romance, ‘Chris & Don. A Love Story’ resonates with the heart.

This is the art for the gay short film 'Attention of Men'

When Colt, an aspiring writer, falls into the hands of Ely, an older wealthy man, their relationship evolves into a complex dynamic of father and son. As Ely’s demons unravel, Colt becomes witness to this king all alone in his castle. Watch ‘Attention of Men’ now on Dekkoo.com!

This is the art for the gay documentary 'Brothers of the Night'

Meet Vienna’s underdogs of respectable society. Sporting leathers jackets like suits of armor, these young hustlers are in search of adventure, freedom and a quick buck. Don’t miss this stylish new doc following a tight-knit group of desirable young men. Watch ‘Brothers of the Night’ now on Dekkoo.com!

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Coming next week: A film about one of the 20th century’s most notorious crimes: The 1924 thrill-kill murder of a 13-year-old boy in south-side Chicago

DEKKOO DISPATCH 044 – ‘BROTHERS OF THE NIGHT’

Title – ‘Brothers of the Night

Director – Patric Chiha

Starring – Stefan, Yonko, Asen, Nikolay

Release Date – 2016

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The dark of night, the smoke-filled alleyways leading to neon-lit signs beckoning with promises of youth, money, and sex, the men lined up waiting for a hot trick or two (or three). Europe is full of such places and it’s usually not the local boys and men that make up the workforce in this sector of business. Immigrants, usually the illegal kind, are most of the hustlers you’ll find in the western European countries.

Enter Patric Chiha’s ‘Brothers of the Night‘ – a docu-fiction hybrid that explores the realm of Buglarian Romani prostitutes in Vienna. While there are many documentaries about male prostitution (we gay men do seem to be fascinated with that topic…) already available, Patric’s movie takes a very different approach in respect to honoring the mystery of the ‘men of the night’. Just like you can’t trust the man you hire in real life to reveal who he really is, we can’t trust the men in this movie to completely tell the truth of their lives.

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The men in this movie have all come from Bulgaria, a country that has the highest percentage of Romani people in all of Europe. Over the course of the movie we follow gypsy men like Stefan who after marrying young and incurring debts decided to come to Vienna to find higher paying jobs. Upon arriving he figured out that there weren’t any jobs and was introduced to hustler bars like ‘Rudiger’ where older men and younger hustlers mix and make deals in bathrooms.

Patric Chiha who previously directed the sensuous film ‘Domain’ with Beatrice Dalle weaves many inspirations from previous films into his creation, but the one that strikes me as having the most influence is the director Wiktor Grodecki known for his work on the male hustler documentaries ‘Body Without Soul’ and ‘Not Angels But Angels’ and also the fiction film based on male hustling, ‘Mandragora’. Grodecki’s films combined a precise mix of compassion, voyeurism, and above all an appreciation of stylized cinematography and lighting that I find extremely present in ‘Brothers of the Night‘. Although we could say that Grodecki took that technique from Fassbinder who doused the famous film ‘Querelle’ in yellow, orange, and pink to highlight the hedonistic playground that the handsome sailor wandered through which is obviously a gigantic influence on Chiha’s vision of the hustlers that live near a large river.

To end this rant I’ll leave you with a statement from the director, but lastly my advice is to get lost in the world that Chiha is created. Don’t think too much about it, but enjoy the sights, sounds, and personalities of these wild Romani boys. Ciao!

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Director’s Statement:
When I found myself stuck in a very strange pub in Vienna one evening, I knew I’d found my next film: The bar was sleazy yet aesthetically pleasing in a tacky kind of way, as if from a different time. Lonely old men sat while proud, capricious young men pranced around the pool table, immediately reminding me of Pasolini or Fassbinder’s broken heroes. It had been a long time since I’d seen bodies like theirs in film, the playful way in which they moved, danced, loitered and chatted away. I wanted to get to know these people and to film them.

The boys are young Bulgarian Roma who have left behind poverty, their families and social customs. But they’re not really free in Vienna either. They’re divided. On the one hand, they have to have sex with men they find physically repulsive, but, on the other hand, they can finally be young here, far away from their wives and children, far away from their responsibilities.

I didn’t want to make a film about them, but rather with them. It had to be full of energy and playful. They play roles when they’re at work. In their everyday lives, they’re always acting. Their lives are full of fiction, full of the stories they tell each other. They’re proud. Generous. Imaginative. Irresponsible. On the hunt. So I went in search of a style that would do them justice. We decided on everything that was directed and staged together. Fiction can be truer and more real than having a camera that just stares at economic or social ills. But in this film – as is the case with the boys’ lives – the boundaries between reality and fiction, between looking in the mirror and fantasy, become blurred. Brothers of the Night is above all else a film about feelings.

 

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Watch it with: Someone you’ve paid for

Mix it with: Viennese beer

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New This Week – 8/18/17

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Writer-director John Maybury’s ‘Love is the Devil‘ offers a searing portrait of English painter Francis Bacon (Derek Jacobi). The film focuses on his tumultuous relationship with George Dyer (Daniel Craig), a younger small-time thief who Bacon treats as both rough trade and the ultimate artistic muse.

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Torn between two loves, a young man struggles to understand and accept his own desire. Watch ‘Amias’ now on Dekkoo!

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The worlds of a former neo-Nazi and the gay victim of his senseless hate crime attack collide by chance 25 years after the incident that dramatically shaped both of their lives. They proceed to embark on a journey of forgiveness that challenges both to grapple with their beliefs and fears, eventually leading to an improbable collaboration…and friendship. ‘Facing Fear‘ was a nominee for the 86th Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.

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Coming next week: An achingly romantic new indie from a Filipino auteur!