As Inside Out ends, I had the pleasure to once again cover the Festival this year and watch some incredible films. I wrote some full reviews for some, but time makes it that of course, I can’t do so with every film I watch.
So, I selected a few and decided to round them up here and write about some of my favourite films that I got to watch at this year’s festival.
A DISTANT PLACE (Directed by Park Kun-young)
Some films take your breath away with the scenery that it is set in. You add to it a story that just is capable of breaking your heart and you have created a film that I will end up loving. A Distant Place is the perfect blend of everything I love in films, a love story with some family drama, but then you put it in the backdrop of the countryside and you have a film that just never lets you take a breath. Whether it’s from the tears coming down your face or from the scenery that just takes it away.
A Distant Place is serene, bringing a sense of calmness that is even present in the most stressful time of the film. It’s a film about acceptance, discovery, family and love, tackling it with such an expert hand, with cinematography that just proves the eye that director Park Kun-young has. There never a moment that the film just feels rush, it goes at its own pace, telling the story it wants to tell and the way it wants it, taking time between beats to breathe at its own rhythm. Yes, I found myself wishing the film was half an hour shorter, but I can’t be mad at the way this film turned out because it did everything at its own pace.
A SEXPLANATION (Directed by Alex Liu)
Sex was always taboo in my household, I didn’t grow up talking about it and even today, it isn’t something we talk about between my parents and me. There’s something weird about watching a documentary about sex when you grow up without talking about it, but A Sexplanation is one of those documentaries that should be shown in school and in every house. Alex Liu’s exploration of sexuality, and the vast meaning of that word, is a thing that educated me even when I am almost in my 30’s. The subject of sex has been taboo for so long that we forget that most of us have learned most of what we know off the internet and this documentary is a good showcase of the good and bad side of that.
But, the way the film does it is in a comedic way. It makes light of the subject but never in a sense that feels like he doesn’t take the subject seriously. It shows both sides of the ideology, going so far as to talk to a priest and a republican who has passed a bill to ban pornography.
Talking about sex is still taboo in most households, but A Sexplanation is a good way to open this door and start a conversation just like Liu does with his own family. It’s time we start giving good sex education to teenagers because if you don’t, then you find yourself with a group of kids who have no idea what they are doing and what they should expect.
(You can read Alex’s review of the film here.)
BEYTO (Directed by Gitta Gsell)
I will be completely honest, I did not like the first half of Beyto. I found myself looking at it in the way that this was a storyline we had seen before and probably done better at some point. It was slow and just wasn’t getting to the point it was trying to make. But then, the halfway point of the film arrived and I found myself enjoying it a lot more. Once this film finally arrives at the story it wants to tell, it is so enjoyable. It’s a shame it takes so long to get there.
There’s something about Beyto that feels like it is two different movies in one. The first half is really about the love between Beyto and Mike, while the backend of the film is totally different, becoming more about Beyto’s struggle with his family, being forced into a marriage and his need to escape. It’s such a big contrast that you feel a bit of whiplash when it happens but it’s also realistic because all of a sudden Beyto’s life is turned upside down.
While not perfect, I can command this film for what it tried to do. Its second half is a lot stronger than the first, but with great performances, you can easily forgive it.
BOY MEETS BOY (Directed by Daniel Sanchez Lopez)
Dating is hard, and in all honestly, I hate it. There’s always something about dating that I just can’t stand and I always find myself wanting out before I even start a relationship. Daniel Sanchez Lopez’s Boy Meets Boy is probably one of the best explorations of queer dating and how complicated it can get, even when you meet someone you truly like. It feels real, the kind of relationship that you know either from your own experience or from someone around you.
The chemistry between Matthew James Morrison and Alexandros Koutsoulis is what makes this film work from start to finish. They are in every scene, mostly by themselves and their journey together is everything to the film. The relationship between Harry and Johannes makes or breaks this film and even if I found myself gravitating towards Harry more as a character, it was impossible for me not to want them to succeed. It’s a story that we might know but the film is able to put its own spin on it and create a captivating film
I CARRY YOU WITH ME (Directed by Heidi Ewing)
Some films will stay with you longer than others, there’s just something about them that makes you never forget them and always go back to them, whether it’s a rewatch or just a conversation. I already know that Heidi Ewing’s I Carry You With Me will be one of those films. A beautiful love letter, the calmness of the film brings you on a journey that is like no other.
A love story paired with struggles is nothing new, but Ewing’s narrative feature debut is one of those stories that just takes you on a journey that you will never forget. Armando Espitia as Ivan and Christian Vazquez as Gerardo elevate the film to another level. Espitia especially brings this film home with just subtle looks he is able to convey. It’s a performance that is just breathtaking.
I don’t want to spoil the “twist” of the film (if you can even call it that), but that last act alone made me see this film in another light, a small thing that just makes this story even more remarkable. I Carry You With Me is a film that I can’t wait to revisit and lose myself in it all over again.
(You can read Alex’s review of the film here.)
TWO (Directed by Astar Elkayam)
Two was one of my most anticipated films of the festival, it seemed to be one of those stories that I never get to see. The struggle of two women trying to start a family, the tension that this scenario creates and the idea that sometimes things just don’t work out the way you think. For the most part, Two fulfils what I wanted it to be. The tension that is built throughout its runtime is some of the best I have seen, the performances captivate you and you find yourself rooting for these two girls to finally get what they want.
But then, the ending happens. Everything that was built is destroyed and the film undermines itself so easily it’s sad. I wish the ending had been more satisfying but because it is so sudden and out of the left-field, the ending feels like an afterthought. The film switches so suddenly to its ending that you don’t even realize what has happened, it’s a turn that could have worked out if some hints had been given throughout, but never is that done and so when everything comes crumbling down in their world, it doesn’t work. It’s a shame because, before the last fifteen minutes, Two is solid and enjoyable.
Those are some of the films I have watched during the Festival and I had to talk about. What about you, what have you seen if you went to the Festival?