Culture jam

Tasty treats to keep fingers sticky at Images

This year’s Images Festival Of Independent Film And Video offers a vast and varied selection of works for cinephiles of the homo persuasion.

The films range from the politically earnest – Raymond Yeung’s Yellow Fever features a gay Chinese man coming to terms with his own anti-Asian bias as he falls for his Taiwanese neighbour (shown at 7pm on Thu, Apr 22) – to the quietly erotic – a black woman and an Asian ghost have an affair in the Manhattan apartment they share in Yau Ching’s I’m Starving (at 7pm on Fri, Apr 23).

A number of real gems populate the program. Works that are witty, clever, brilliantly executed or formally innovative seem to be the rule rather than the exception – not always the case in the sometimes dreary world of experimental film and video work.

Here are my festival picks.

¥ Dianna, by Anna Malkin and Mary Bunch. A folksy ditty tells the story of Dianna (“Promised to Robert/In love with Christine) while she and her lover Christine frolic about in a passionate summer dance. The joy so plainly marked on the women’s faces is cleverly undercut by an intrusive camera, so we somehow cannot forget that a marriage will shortly destroy this summer romance.

¥ Blue Diary, by Jenni Olson. A dyke muses in melancholy voice-over about a one night stand she had with a straight woman, examining a yearning she can’t quite get past. The delivery is almost monotone, and is carefully written to capture those long moments picking at the wounds of rejection. But this film’s real triumph is its image track: a series of static shots of a sleepy urban San Francisco. Now, this makes an apt accompaniment to the voice-over’s sad but languorous mood. But you have not seen Frisco looking this crisp and beautiful since Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Kudos to cinematographer William Jones, who will make you see your own city differently.

(These last two flicks are shown as part of the Girls Rule; Boys Drool program at 7pm on Fri, Apr 23 at the Royal at 608 College St.)

¥ Forever Bottom! by Nguyen Tan Hoang. The title alone makes this short video worthy of mention, but the wit doesn’t end there. Hoang stars as an aggressive bottom, taking it everywhere, all the time. Two things are missing, however: the top, and, in fact, the bottom – Hoang’s bottom, that is. The piece seeks to reclaim “bottom” as a position independent of “top,” thus equalizing the two. Now that’s all well and good, but I just think it’s an absolute scream to see a foot sticking out of a car window pretending to get royally screwed by someone who isn’t there.

(In the Ecce Homo program at 9pm on Mon, Apr 26 at Jackman Hall at 317 Dundas St W.)


¥ Fly Away Homo, by Andrew Hiller (also in Ecce Homo). It’s not very often that I have the opportunity to declare the entry of a film into the canon of my personal favourites, and I do not bandy about the word genius as often as I would like to. Now I get the chance to do both, so watch out!

This is one of those movies that seem to avoid exploding in all directions only by sheer luck. Hiller intertwines three unrelated threads to create a whirlwind of confusion about those perennial concerns – love, sex and desire. The result is a funny, crazy romp through a pleasantly twisted mind set.

In one thread, Hiller speaks to us via an alter ego, Faggy The Duck. Due to conditions beyond his control, Faggy has mistaken an unidentified mechanical object as his mother. His difficulty relating to ducks thereafter becomes a loose, but apt, metaphor for the confusion of being queer in a fundamentally straight society.

In a second, more narrative, thread, equal parts Kenneth Anger and Jean Genet are mixed in a violent reversal of the Oedipal story. A lonesome fag stabs and kills Mummy, then chases Daddy down a suburban street with a bouquet of roses. During the chase, the weeping fag turns into an angel and flies away, all to Faggy The Duck’s rendition of “What I Did For Love.”

The third thread concerns a man as he rids himself entirely of his libido. He is strapped into a chair in a laboratory, where a disembodied voice orders him to masturbate; apparently each time he achieves erection he will receive a painful shock. Judging by the orgasm, the treatment doesn’t work.

When the film ends, the world seems a lot more complicated and confusing than it was when you went in, but somehow that’s genuinely comforting. And that is where the genius lies. But words, as ever, cannot do this piece-or, for that matter, any of the others mentioned-the justice they deserve. So go, now, and see for yourself!


$7 per program; $50 pass.

Thu, Apr 22-May 1.

Various venues.

(416) 971-8405.

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