Mark, Mike Hoolboom’s difficult documentary

See it at Hot Docs on May 1 or 9

“When someone close to you dies, I think the first inclination is to try to fill their absence with something,” says Mike Hoolboom of his documentary Mark.

The film is a haunting tribute to the life of Mark Karbusicky, a gentle animal rights activist, political vegan, punk maestro and life partner of transsexual performance artist Mirha-Soleil Ross. Karbusicky took his own life in 2007.

This project is obviously a sensitive one for Hoolboom. He chafes when asked how Mark will appeal to the queer community.

“You mean queer communities, don’t you? The movie presents a trans-normal world, one in which Mirha-Soleil’s MTF status is neither the movie’s vanishing point nor featured attraction. Mark’s life-partner commitment grounded him in a trans-activist momentum at the same time as it rendered cross-gendered operations part of the always-background…. Perhaps watching Mark in drag, lip-synching Blondie would more likely get temperatures rising.”

Hoolboom’s anger is palpable as he tries to navigate the promotion of a film he doesn’t want to sensationalize, or sanitize. Both the film and its maker are raw.

At heart, Mark is the story of someone fascinating, presented so everyone will see a little of themselves in its characters.

“He showed me that it was possible to create space around difficult thoughts, or people, or situations,” says Hoolbloom. “He was a genius of waiting, a geek in punk clothing. His mantra was forever, no problem.”

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