The Wound

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema, News 12 Comments

Protests erupted over the The Wound, a queer film that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, and its director John Trengove for appropriating African culture and publicising a secret tribal circumcision ritual depicted the film.

The traditional Xhola circumcision ritual  that is a  major topic in the film marks a boy’s passage into manhood. Considering that the ritual has resulted in over 800 deaths, it makes sense why young Kwanda, the youthful initiate in the film, wouldn’t want to go through it. His resistance forces his mentor Xolani to reconsider the traditions and the tribal notions of manhood altogether.

The actual ritual has gotten public exposure before. Former South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela wrote about the experience in his autobiography.

The ritual involves a traditional surgeon (called an ingcibi) who severs the initiate’s foreskin using a spear, which is then tied to the initiate’s blanket. The penile wound is covered with a healing plant and for the next eight days, the initiate is confined to a hut (called a bhoma) and forbidden from eating certain foods. After eight days, an ukosiswa rite removes the food restrictions and marks the start of the second phase, which lasts two to three more weeks. The initiates’ seclusion ends when they race to the river to bathe themselves. Finally, the initiates’ hut and possessions are burnt, each initiate gets a new blanket and is called an amakwala (new man) henceforth.

Quartz Africa reports that protestors, like South African journalist Lwando Xaso and the current Xhosa king, say Trengrove (a white South African) appropriated Xhosa culture, particularly “jealously guarded secrets of a tradition that has managed to endure oppression and modernization.”

Xaso said, “It is not okay to subjectively delve into traditions and practices you are not a part of under the guise of sparking debate and engagement. It is not your place because you are not speaking as a member of that society.”

Two South African cinemas stopped showing The Wound over security threats, but it remains available elsewhere internationally.

Hidden Kisses

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 10 Comments

Sixteen-year-old Nathan (Bérenger Anceaux) is the new kid in high school. One night, while attending a party, he falls in love with Louis (Jules Houplain), a boy in his class.

Able to sneak away from the crowd, they find themselves out of sight, and eventually work up the courage to kiss each other, but someone has seen them, someone took a photo of the kiss. As soon as the photo has been posted to social media, a storm of bullying and rejection overtakes their lives.

Departure

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema, Skin & Skylcad 6 Comments

Beatrice (Juliette Stevenson and her teenage son Elliot (Alex Lawther,) are preparing for the sale of their vacation home in the south of France.

Elliot struggles with his dawning sexuality and an increasing alienation from his mother. Beatrice in turn is upset over the sale of the house and her crumbling marriage.

When an enigmatic local teenager, Clément, enters their lives, both mother and son are compelled to confront their desires and, finally, each other. Departure is an intimate story beginning at dawn on the first day and ending at night on the sixth, charting the end of a summer, the end of a childhood and the end of an otherwise nuclear, middle class family.

 

Alex and the Handyman

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 20 Comments

Alex And The Handyman takes a look at pre-adolescent sexuality in a sweet way. The film precocious nine-year-old Alex, who develops an instant crush on much older handyman, Jared. The child wants the moody 20-something man’s attention, but Jared isn’t that interested in humoring the fantasies of a kid.

The short starts off as a sweet and sometimes funny look at pre-sexual awakening. However, some people will probably be freaked out a bit by the end.

You can watch the whole short here. Submitted by Marvin.

Saturday Church

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 10 Comments

Saturday Church tells the story of 14-year-old Ulysses as he struggles to express his personality & sexuality in a hostile environment.

Ulysses, the young protagonist of Saturday Church, is first seen at the burial of his father, a soldier killed overseas. The New York teen, played by Luka Kain, has delicate features and carries an air of quiet about him.

He and his younger brother will now be looked after by both their mother Amara and strict Aunt Rose. The latter does not mince words after Ulysses is discovered trying on his mother’s shoes. “If I ever hear of you even looking at women’s clothing, I will beat it out of you. You are a man. Start acting like one,” she says, enunciating each word with controlled rage.

But the boy is in no way conflicted about his sexual orientation — he’s just surrounded by disapproval. As a form of escape, he imagines his life as a musical, and the movie is dotted with song and dance, beginning with a particularly audacious locker-room scene in which Ulysses’ jock tormentors turn into backup dancers.

For real-life affinity, Ulysses seeks companionship on the pier by Manhattan’s Christopher Street, where he is enlisted into Saturday Church, a program for at-risk queer youth (the program in the movie is based on a real one).

The film was written and directed by Damon Cardasis, making his feature debut. It is a disarmingly and consistently sensitive movie that remains engaging even when its reach sometimes exceeds its grasp (a musical number set in what might be the world’s tidiest homeless shelter for example).

The wonderful cast brings the story home, and Luka Kain in particular is a real find. When Ulysses first puts on lip gloss in a room full of people who accept him, the smile that plays on his face is both ebullient and heart-rending.

Sleepy Sunday *4

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema, Sleepy Sunday 13 Comments

Full-time childhood, an alien time in which everything around us is passed through pure bodies and perceptions. One eye and a soul that follow invisible trajectories; only the instinct and the senses reign, along with the imagination.

I Cormorani takes us on a transfigured journey into this total reality. The film is an experiment in meta-cinema. A direct drive trailing the wandering of Matteo and Samuele: two twelve year old boys who live their long, lazy days of summer between nature and civilisation. The forest, the river and the mall become another dimension for us who observe them.

Their intimacy and complicity transfigures them unaware, in objects, lights, sounds and smells: of life and man, amplifying their objectification in a sublime fashion. Their and our way of being in the world, to find a sense of meaning.

Barbie Boy

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 13 Comments

Barbie Boy is the story of Bobby, an imaginative 7-year-old whose favourite toy is the classic Barbie doll. After his father makes a comment, Bobby goes on a personal journey to discover what he should be looking for.

The Language of Love

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 5 Comments

“It’s not because he’s a boy… he just happens to be one. And I can’t figure out whether that makes it wrong or special”

Written and performed by 17 year old Kim Ho, it is about a boy at high school coming to terms with his sexuality and his love for his best friend, Sam.

Freak Show

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 3 Comments

There are plenty of great films in recent years about finding yourself and staying true to who you are deep down. Freak Show is another one of these films, but it has a refreshingly optimistic feel to it that makes it stand out.

It first premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and is an entertaining, enjoyable, optimistic story about personal identity and fighting back against bullies (not with violence, but with pride and courage). Alex Lawther stars a young, gay high school student named Billy Bloom who dresses up lavishly every day (think: Lady Gaga) yet the film isn’t so much about homosexuality as it is about being totally yourself, and finding a way to survive even if you don’t fit in with everyone else.

Lawther’s performance as Billy Bloom is the most essential part of the story and it really works wonders, as he embraces every last aspect of the character. It honestly doesn’t even seem like a “performance” so much as a genuine expression of individuality and creativity.

Bloom comes from a very wealthy family and when he joins a new school after moving in with his father, he gets bullied and beat up. He stands out as the only weird one in the school, and makes a few friends who help him to navigate the treacherous world of high school.

Directed by Trudie Styler, based on the book by James St. James, the film is fairly lightweight and easy to watch, staying optimistic and pleasant when it easily could be more serious or depressing. This actually benefits the film because it makes it more enchanting overall.

Different from the Others

milkboys Films, History 2 Comments

In 1919 the first known film that was sympathetic to gay people was produced. A year later, it was banned. Different from the Others (Anders als die Andern) is a German movie about a relationship between a master violinist and his student.

Paul Körner, the violinist, is approached by a young man named Kurt who begs Paul to be his teacher. He accepts and their relationship develops.

Their families don’t understand their relationship, and Paul comes out to his parents by sending them to a doctor who explains that Paul is gay and it’s nothing to worry about. Homosexuality isn’t an illness, the doctor says, it’s just a normal variation of human sexuality.

This was 50 years before Stonewall. These ideas were revolutionary even during the brief social liberalization Germany experienced in the decade before the Great Depression, which is why public screenings of the film were banned a year after it was released.

The film goes on to discuss suicide among gay men, the pressure to be straight, and blackmail used against Paul.

Magnus Hirschfeld, a Jewish doctor and sexologist who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century and is remembered most as one of the first major gay rights activists and for founding one of the first gay organizations in the world, helped make the film. He devoted his life to trying to get the law the banned homosexuality in Germany repealed, and he believed that more education and scientific understanding could help society accept gay people.

The film was produced with the help of Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Research and 40 copies were produced, according to John Baxter’s book Carnal Knowledge. The Institute of Sexual Research was raided and closed when the Nazis came to power in 1933, and Hirschfeld spent the last few years of his life in France trying to continue his work before he died of a heart attack in 1935.

You can watch the film on YouTube.