In ‘All The Fires,’ a queer teen blazes a path toward self-acceptance

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A coming-of-age drama about a queer teen with a troubling passion for starting fires ― yes, literally ― will make its hotly anticipated premiere this weekend .

Written and directed by Mauricio Calderón Rico, All the Fires (Todos los Incendios) will be screened Sunday as part of NewFest, New York’s premier LGBTQ+ film festival. The Spanish-language film, which is subtitled, will also be available to stream online through Oct. 24, the conclusion of the festival.

All the Fires follows Bruno, a teen who has developed an obsession with uploading videos of himself setting objects on fire after his father dies. As his widowed mother is developing feelings for a new man, Bruno runs away from home in search of a girl, Dani, with whom he’s connected online. Though Bruno imagines himself in a romantic relationship with Dani at first, his out-of-town journey prompts him to make a startling discovery about his own sexuality.

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Essential Queer Horror Films

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From 1934 until 1967, Hollywood movies were shaped by the Production Code, otherwise known as the Hays Code. Written in 1930, but not implemented until four years later, this set of rules was generally intended to keep movies from “corrupting” the people who watched them. Given that homosexuality was considered either a physical or psychological malady in the early 20th century, the code effectively legislated any limited queer presence out of existence.

While homosexuality was not explicitly banned in the Hays’ text, it was mandated that “no picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin.” It was also codified that only “correct standards of life” should be presented,” and that “sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden.”

In other words, for a long time, cinematic queers were pushed underground, relegated to existing only in subtext — and most often as villains. In order to get queer stories onscreen, filmmakers had to find creative ways to subvert the system.

Horror films in particular have made for a fascinating case study in the evolving perceptions of queer presence; queer-horror filmmakers and actors were often forced to lean into the trope of the “predatory queer” or the “monstrous queer” to claim some sense of power through visibility and blatant expressions of sexuality.

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Heartstopper season 3 is officially in production

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The third season of Heartstopper is officially in production! Netflix confirmed the news on Monday (2 October). It confirms that season three has begun shooting, and the first episode will be directed by Andy Newbery.

The release date hasn’t been confirmed, but if it follows the same pattern as the first two seasons, which respectively launched in April 2022 and August 2023, then it should premiere next year.

The season three cast is yet to be confirmed, but we’re fully expecting the main players to return. This includes Joe Locke as Charlie, Kit Connor as Nick, Yasmin Finney as Elle, William Gao as Tao, Corinna Brown as Tara, Kizzy Edgell as Darcy and Tobie Donovan as Isaac.

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For years Andrzej and Michal have been meeting up during the summer holidays, which they spend with their parents at the tiny resort of Siemiany. Over the years, their friendship has grown steadily, but this year the monotony of life in the country and their feelings of togetherness lend their friendship a new dimension of sexually charged intimacy.

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A tale of first love, Fireworks (original title: Stranizza d’amuri) tells the story of two teenagers who fall for each other in the very conservative Sicily in the 1980s. They will carry the weight of society and face tragic consequences. Gabriele Pizzurro and Samuele Segreto star in the film alongside Fabrizia Sacchi (“Suspiria’) and Simona Malato (“The Macaluso Sisters”).

Stranizza d’amuri is inspired by true events, the murder of two boys in a Sicilian small town in the ’80s,” said Eleonora Pratelli of Ibla Film. “This was a crime that changed forever the perception of homosexuality in Italy. Its emotional impact on public opinion was so deep and vast that it opened the way to the creation of the first association aimed at safeguarding homosexuals’ rights.”

She added that story was “still dramatically relevant today.” She said the film aimed at “restoring the dignity of two boys killed by hate and prejudice and whose memory was then buried in indifference.”

I’ll post a review of the film when I can find a stream somewhere.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Every team behind a book-to-film adaptation has hard choices to make. But one of the trickiest is taking a book that’s very much embedded in a character’s head and putting those moments on screen in an interesting way. Voice-overs can only go so far in conveying the way authors capture specific thought patterns.

That’s the cchallenge in adapting a book like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s YA queer coming-of-age novel, which soars on the page because of the main character’s internal monologue.

The film adaptation from Hara Kiri director and writer Aitch Alberto stumbles a bit in conveying the book’s adolescent angst and poignant longing, often feeling like a collection of snapshots instead of one cohesive movie. Nevertheless, the lead actors carry the film, and the individual scenes are strong, though it never quite captures the deep longing that is threaded throughout the original.

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Red, White & Royal Blue, Heartstopper, and the Insidiousness of Purity Culture

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The first time I saw two men having sex on TV, it was Connor Walsh and Oliver Hampton in an episode of How To Get Away With Murder. At the time, I was a closeted 16-year-old at an all boys school, where the extent of sex education was watching my classmates put condoms on a dummy penis. The fiction of Connor’s sex life — and boy was it radical for a TV-14 show — was a world away from my reality, in which I was still coming to terms with my queerness, and my straight classmates were getting on with actual, real sex.

Sex between men has a long, painful history. It’s always been pleasurable, sure, otherwise why do it and risk imprisonment or death? But one need only crack open a history book to find a plethora of sad realities: the AIDS epidemic that started in the ‘80s; the criminalization of homosexuality in so many countries around the world (that continues for many today); the fact that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas — which deemed sodomy laws unconstitutional, since previously anal sex (and therefore gay sex) was illegal — only happened 20 years ago.

Queer culture was born of those circumstances; the ways queer people lived and broke bread and carried on, and the scenarios in which they had sex, which were experienced through otherness, in the fringes, and in all the secret places. That culture is alive, and inherited, today. But so is the evangelical’s calling card, with its “abstinence until marriage” message, admonishing people to do what is perceived as right and healthy.

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