LGBT INSIDE OUT 2019

This year’s 2019 Inside Out LGBT film festival scores two big mainstream movies for its grand opening and closing night Galas. 

The Opening Night film is ROCKETMAN, the lively bio of Elton John that opens commercially next week.  The Closing Night movie is the Emma Thompson vehicle LATE NIGHT which also opens the following week.

The films will be screened at the prestigious comfortable TIFF Bell Ligthbox.  Check the Inside Out website for the full program of films. 

Capsule Reviews of Selected Films:

DRAG KIDS (Canada 2019) ***
Directed by Megan Wennberg

DRAG KIDS is a Canadian documentary about drag kids i.e. kids that dress up in drag to perform, just as their adults counterparts - drag queens do.

Director Megan Wennberg’s doc takes advantage of this curiosity  as well as proposes answers to questions like why would kids want to do drag and how their performances affect themselves and their close ones.

Four children are chosen from Canada, Europe (Spain) and the United States.  The children are as diverse as they are drag kids.  The four are: (their stage names used; just as their adults counterparts use) Queen Lactatia, Laddy GaGa, Suzan Bee Anthony and Bracken Hanke.  The climax of the film is their performances, their first time at Fierte Montreal (the new name for Pride Montreal) where they come together and interact, just as their parents do.  Needless to say, they have the times of their lives as in the words of Suzan: “This is the best time in my life - ever!”  Suzan is the only female doing drag.  One the music starts, and the kids go on stage, the remarkable happens!

One encouraging thing the doc exposes is the support provided by the parents of these children regardless of which continent they come from.  The parents speak highly of their children and their ability to do what they want.  One parent makes a good point putting down the fact of the question on whether his child is straight or gay.  My son is only 9, is the valid response.

The doc offers close to equal time devoted to each of the 4.  Which drag kid is the best? The answer is revealed at the end of the competition, but it does not really matter when everyone is having a good time, parents included.

It is also no easy task to perform drag, kid or adult as the film reveals.  The children undergo intense choreography lessons in preparation for their show.

One glaring fact is that Wennberg only skims the surface of drag kids in her doc and fails to go deeper into any connecting issues.  The result is an ok doc, pleasant to watch with a little information on the subject but fails to offer major insight to the its subject.

DRAG KIDS premiered at the Hot Docs in Toronto 2019.  There will be two other opportunities to view the film - one at the LGBT Inside Out Film Festival that runs from the 23rd of May and the other, when it premieres on the Documentary Channel in July of this year.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUto5LJ2AmY

A NIGHT AT SWITCH ’N’ PLAY (USA 2019) ***
Directed by Cody Stickels

SWITCH ‘N’ PLAY is a drag show/Burlesque that takes place regularly at a Bar in Brooklyn. Tickets are modestly prices between $10 - $12.  Audiences will be for a time of a grand night.  But the audiences there are always respectful of the performers.  The performers are part of an LGBT collective.  hey claim the audiences is very good and they have never been heckled .  A NIGHT OF SWITCH ’N’ PLAY documents a night out with the show, with various performs doing their thing.

All of the performances, hosted by Femmecee Miss Malice are spicy, hilarious and inventive.  But beware that a few of them are sexual in-your-face. 

The film begins with the introduction of Miss Malice as she opens the show with her aide Zoe Ziegfeld.  Ziegfeld is dressed so that her pubic hair can be seen through her costume, which she keeps pulling (the hair not the costume).  Ziegfeld performs again later on during the film, including a part where she does a hand stand on one of the audience’s chest.

Other performers on display include Divina Grans3parkle (with her Twinkie the Dik costume), Pearl Harbor, Max Satisfaction and Drag Kings, Vigor Mortis (Brooklyn Nightlife's Awards Drag King of the Year 2017) and K. James.  Beside the regulars (not everyone feared in the doc), the show also features guest performers.  Two of them Qualms Galore and Veronica Viper are featured in the doc.

Of all the performances, the most outrageous belongs to Nyx Nocturne.  The reason will not be revealed in this review - but thus performance is the most shocking and outrageous and the audience loves it.  Warning - be prepared to be utterly shocked for this one.  But my favourite performances are the two done by the Drag Kings.  The striptease by K. James as a milkman is both sexy and entertaining.

Besides the performances, the performers also talk how their drag characters have developed, how they chose their drag names and the reasons they do what they do (besides having a great time).

A NIGHT AT SWITCH ’N’ PLAY ends up more entertaining that it actually deserves.  Sit back, enjoy the infectiously enjoyable show and ignore all the shit that is otherwise happening around the world.  This doc is playing at the LGBT Inside Out Festival that runs this week.  And a few of the drag performers including Miss Malice will be present at the screening.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/335301344

YO IMPOSIBLE (Being Imposible) (Venezuela/Colombia 2018) ***

Directed b Patricia Ortega

Finding ones identity is difficult at the best of times, but what if a critical piece of your history has been kept from you? When Ariel (Lucia Bedoya) has sex with her boyfriend for the first time she experiences intense pain.  Her mother, who is quite ill and in hospital finally hints at the truth.  The mother gives her strict instructions to visit a very specific doctor but will tell her nothing else.  To make matters more confusing, Ariel has developed a strong attraction to her new co-worker, Ana.

YO IMPOSIBLE (BEING IMPOSSIBLE) is a film about intersex.  There have not been many films (The recent Human Rights Film Festival this year in Toronto had a documentary entitled INTERSEX), particularly fictional ones about this human condition, so Ortega’s film makes intriguing viewing, despite its slow pace and fact that it comes in Spanish from South America.

Otherwise, the film’s production values are apt.  The cinematography, particular the night scenes are well lit and certain scenes like the fist lesbian kissing scene is naturally blurred.

It is a slow paced movie that allows the audience to think and contemplate each segment - ow the protagonist feels and how she would react to different situations.

One problem of the film is that those entering the theatre before the film starts know that the subject is an intersex girl who discovers that an operation had been done on her without her knowledge.  The knowledge of this key plot point spoils the otherwise well built up climax to this point of revelation in the film - which takes place close to just after the film’s half way mark.

Ortega’s film is very sexual, but not in an erotic sense.  There are scenes with dildos that are used not for masturbation but for treatment of pain.  In  the sex scenes, Ariel is usually writhing in pain rather than pleasure.  But the pain is not always physical.  In Ariel’s words, when asked what hurts her the most, her reply is “the lie”.

Ortega’s ups the ante by including scenes at Ariel’s work in a garment manufacturing facility.  The other female workers are nothing short of nosy bitches.  Ariels’ s closest colleague turns out to be quite the nasty bitch, minding other people’s business.  When a new employee, Ana arrives and Ariel begins a lesbian affair with her which he closest colleague discovers, all hell breaks lost including a cat fight.  Ana is finally fired from work for being a threat to good morals.  This indicates the unaccepted state of gays in South American society.

The film contains a tacked on happy ending that otherwise spoils the film’s narrative flow.

The film is shot in Spanish.  Warning that the English subtitles are not perfect and arrive with a lot of spelling errors.  The film premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and will also be played at this year’s LGBT Inside Out Film Festival.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/317169006

DRAG KIDS (Canada 2019) ***
Directed by Megan Wennberg

 

DRAG KIDS is a Canadian documentary about drag kids i.e. kids that dress up in drag to perform, just as their adults counterparts - drag queens do.

Director Megan Wennberg’s doc takes advantage of this curiosity  as well as proposes answers to questions like why would kids want to do drag and how their performances affect themselves and their close ones.

Four children are chosen from Canada, Europe (Spain) and the United States.  The children are as diverse as they are drag kids.  The four are: (their stage names used; just as their adults counterparts use) Queen Lactatia, Laddy GaGa, Suzan Bee Anthony and Bracken Hanke.  The climax of the film is their performances, their first time at Fierte Montreal (the new name for Pride Montreal) where they come together and interact, just as their parents do.  Needless to say, they have the times of their lives as in the words of Suzan: “This is the best time in my life - ever!”  Suzan is the only female doing drag.  One the music starts, and the kids go on stage, the remarkable happens!

One encouraging thing the doc exposes is the support provided by the parents of these children regardless of which continent they come from.  The parents speak highly of their children and their ability to do what they want.  One parent makes a good point putting down the fact of the question on whether his child is straight or gay.  My son is only 9, is the valid response.

The doc offers close to equal time devoted to each of the 4.  Which drag kid is the best? The answer is revealed at the end of the competition, but it does not really matter when everyone is having a good time, parents included.

It is also no easy task to perform drag, kid or adult as the film reveals.  The children undergo intense choreography lessons in preparation for their show.

One glaring fact is that Wennberg only skims the surface of drag kids in her doc and fails to go deeper into any connecting issues.  The result is an ok doc, pleasant to watch with a little information on the subject but fails to offer major insight to the its subject.

DRAG KIDS premiered at the Hot Docs in Toronto 2019.  There will be two other opportunities to view the film - one at the LGBT Inside Out Film Festival that runs from the 23rd of May and the other, when it premieres on the Documentary Channel in July of this year.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUto5LJ2AmY

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