Queer Film Fest 2015: Final Thoughts

Number of shows I saw: 13 (10 feature-length movies, 3 short film collections). Huh. I thought I was scaling back, but I’ve ended up seeing more movies than last year. How’d that happen?

Number of non-English-language films I saw: 5 feature films counting Sand Dollars and What We Have though those were really bi/tri-lingual; plus 3 short films (in Spanish and French). Not a bad mix!

Favourite blogging addiction: mine. I honestly wasn’t planning to write a bunch of full reviews, but during the opening gala, the spirit moved me. Oh, Queer Film Fest, I wish I could quit you. Nah, that’s a lie, I totally don’t.

Favourite feature film: A Girl At My Door / Dohee-Ya

Favourite short films: Kiss & Tell (featured in The Coast is Queer ); The Future Perfect (featured in The Coast is Queer and Queer Best Of), Cornet at Night (featured in Still Not Over It).

Movies I would have liked to see but didn’t:

  • In The Turn because it sounds sweet and inspirational;
  • Cuatro Lunas sounds like a lovely gay tapestry;
  • Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party because who doesn’t like another meditation on gayness and faith by the guy who brought us The Wise Kids?
  • Oh, and those two horror flicks, especially The Blue Hour

Favourite outgoing executive director: The one, the only, the magnificent Drew Dennis. You know, I think Drew’s presided over my whole VQFF-going life… or at least most of it. I do remember getting the 1997 (I think) festival poster, but I’m pretty sure I was just dabbling at that point. I didn’t become a semi-regular festival goer until around the mid-00’s.

Favourite eldritch abomination: this year’s festival logo. Oh come on, I can’t be the only one thinking it. Seriously, that logo looks very cool, but I did a slightly creeped-out double-take the first time I saw it. With the four-faced head and disembodied limb things floating around it, I have to wonder: is this what Lady Gaga will look like when the stars are right and she ascends into her true form, ready to devour us all in order of fabulousness? And is it a coincidence that last Thursday was HP Lovecraft’s 125th birthday?

Sand Dollars / Dólares de arena

Meet Noeli, a beautiful young Black woman from the Dominican Republic. By day she spends time on the beach with rich white tourists, flirting and angling for gifts which she promptly resells. The nights she spends dancing up a storm in clubs with her boyfriend—or, in a remote little hotel with one very special tourist. Anne, a much older white French woman has been visiting the country on and off for years, and has fallen in love with Noeli. Noeli is quite fond of Anne too, but keeps her distance emotionally, and isn’t above lying and asking for money.

It’s a fascinating look at the intersections of race, class, gender, colonialism and unequal relationships. Noeli may seem mercenary and heartless, but she’s doing what she can to survive and support her boyfriend who can’t seem to find a job. Besides, you could say she’s only taking a little money from people who already have too much. It’s not really clear what Anne is looking for; she does love Noeli, but it’s a blind and naive love. She doesn’t care to know anything about Noeli’s life away from her, and though her Spanish is good she hasn’t tried to integrate in Dominican society at all. She adores the country, the scenery, the ocean to swim in, but doesn’t know anything about the details. I think, at least at first (and even now, to an extent) Noeli is just part of that scenery, just a piece she could enjoy up close.

Which is still pretty benign compared to some. Halfway through the movie she discover Noeli has a boyfriend and breaks up with her. She’s devastated, but fortunately gets support from some of her rich jet-setting pals. It was our first look at Anne in her own world, and it’s quite a revelation. She’s more talkative, more confident, smiles a lot more. She’s free to talk about to anyone about anything, even her own affairs, and trust nobody will judge her—mostly because they’ve seen it all too. But as lovely and open-minded and cosmopolitan as these folks are, they don’t really think about anybody outside their world. We overhear one guy talking about the economics of resource extraction in the Dominican Republic. Though he has also enjoyed individual locals over the years, the country as a whole is just numbers to him and he doesn’t even conceive of what it means to be the one cutting down sugar canes or burning down fields and still have to feel grateful because there are just no other jobs available—as Noeli’s boyfriend briefly did.

Noeli and Anne get back together, and Anne starts to seriously talk about bringing Noeli to visit Paris—with the hope, maybe, of making it a permanent arrangement. Noeli is torn. She does enjoy shopping for clothes, but she’s not looking forward to experiencing this whole “winter” thing, plus she would lose everything she knows.

She makes a decision: one morning while Anne still sleeps, she steals as much cash as she can, and slips away with her boyfriend.

So… a few thoughts:

This is a movie adaptation of a book: Jean-Noël Pancrazi’s Les Dollars des sables. It’s a far better one than last year’s Salvation Army, but the editing is still a bit choppy in parts, and Noeli is a bit of a cipher. That’s possibly intentional: she’s been leading a double life, keeping secrets from both her loved ones, but we the audience shouldn’t be left wondering what makes her tick.

The ending was quite abrupt too, though again, not nearly as bad as Salvation Army’s. I wish we’d seen more of Noeli’s inner conflict, but in hindsight she made the best decision she could—or maybe the least bad one. Either way she’d lose people and cause a lot of pain, but it’s not clear what she would gain from moving to France. Medical care, education and opportunities for her unborn child? Maybe, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. But Noeli herself would be cut off from her community, entirely dependent on Anne for everything. I don’t remember hearing her speak French, so what kind of job could she even get? She’d be a kept woman, whose only companionship would be Anne’s rich peers and their kept kept men/women.

This movie strikes me as somewhat similar to Xenia; though the people of the Dominican Republic aren’t migrants, the end result isn’t too different since they are kept largely poor and unemployed by economic forces beyond their control.

Finally, what does the title refer to? We never see or hear about any actual sand dollars. The consensus, based on a couple of Twitter conversations, is that “sand dollar” is local slang for money spent by tourists, who mostly hang around the beaches. Any thoughts?


This is a movie about home and lack of home, about ruins and dreams, about hate and poverty and the struggle for survival. It’s by far the most challenging film I’ve seen in the festival this year, and I’m very glad I did.

Fifteen-year-old Dany has a mission: now that his Albanian mother is dead, he will go to Athens and reunite with his older brother Odysseas; together they will find their long-lost Greek father, get a DNA test thereby obtaining Greek citizenship and all sorts of freedoms, including the freedom to leave this godforsaken country with a Greek passport. Oh, and golden-voiced Ody will compete in “Greek Star”, a singing reality show that’s sure to win him fame and fortune, with Dany tagging along.

This is a bit of an odd movie. Yes, most of it is about the harsh realities of present-day Greece—grinding poverty, rampant fascism, the struggle to do whatever it takes to survive—but it has a number of surprisingly lighthearted scenes, most of them involving Ody. The gruff, scruffy, down-to-earth ultra-straight boy who’s easily embarrassed by his queer little brother? He’s got a voice that makes angels weep, and if you give him a spotlight or enough wine he’ll turn into a fabulous diva and prance along with Dany. It’s amazing to watch.

Then you’ve got Dany’s dream/fantasy sequences, which seemed so jarringly off-key compared to the rest of the movie. I’m still not sure how they fit in, to be honest. When his pet rabbit Dido “died”, it looked like a hilariously bad special effects failure, but the truth is that Dido was always a plush toy that Dany had carried around for who knows how long. What does it mean, though? That Dany is growing up? But then why does he see visions of the bunny walking around and talking to him? I’m confused.

(Incidentally, that revelation was a relief, because I couldn’t help wondering how a real rabbit ate, drank and pooped, and how stressed it must be, carried around in that stuffy bag all day. But hey! Never a problem.)

Does Dany even need growing up, though? he’s a kid of weird contrasts: sometimes such a child, impulsive and thoughtless and hopped up on sweets, carrying all sorts of pretty sparkly shit in his bag. But he also shacks up with sugar daddies and carries a gun around to aim at fascists. Taking care of a dying drug-addicted mother and living in this hard world will do that to you, I guess. What does growing up mean for him? Getting a regular job, living day to day? That’s what Ody did in Athens until Dany swooped in and infected him with his crazy dreams. And suddenly, survival was not enough.

Because survival will just lead to things getting worse; if people just worry about their own problems they won’t see the big picture, care about the future, reverse the erosion of society. Already the economic downtown has caused hotels in Thessaloniki to be completely abandoned and overrun with wildlife. Compare that with the swanky villa belonging to the brothers’ biological father, all pristine and white with security up the wazoo. Greece needs more than fascist politicians living in swanky gated neighbourhoods while migrants and the chronically poor eke out a living.

But maybe not forever. Just like the Odysseus of myth, the brothers (along with many, many others) are cursed to wander, with no homeland they really want to call their own. Odysseus eventually made it home, after many terrible adventures. Let’s hope that things will likewise get better for Greece.

What We Have / Ce qu’on a

What’s interesting about this film is that the basic story is pretty similar to A Girl At My Door‘s: the protagonist is a prickly, standoffish loner with an embarrassing history (an actual criminal record, in this case, exact details unspecified but it involved molesting a minor); they are exiled to a small town (self-exiled, in this case, to North Bay, ON); befriends a troubled teen who is suffering abuse (only bullying, in this case); goes beyond the call of duty and tries to help, and in the process gets a little too involved and opens himself up to serious problems. The main difference is that What We Have is a personal journey; everything that Maurice goes through, even his relationship with Allan, is linked only to his own issues.

Which is not a bad thing. I really enjoyed What We Have, except for one highly problematic scene at the very end: when Maurice finally opens up to Michael and explains all those flashbacks to the audience. He had been molested by his stepfather, who seemed to love him more than his mother. But Maurice was also in love with him, evidently enjoyed the experience, but it messed him up enough to make him prone to do the same, because part of him didn’t see anything wrong with it. Though I appreciate that this wasn’t the intent, it still comes way too close to old harmful stereotypes linking homosexuality and pedophilia, or homosexuality and past sexual abuse. The worst thing is, it was unnecessary: there were so many other ways you could have justified both Maurice’s isolation and his overinvolvement in Allan’s life without impacting the story at all.

Because criminal record or no, Maurice’s situation is extremely delicate. He has to be a good role model and build trust while keeping good boundaries, give advice without projecting his own crap on Allan’s situation or making things worse, etc… It’s a tough job for anyone. Maurice did try his best to keep the right balance, but his best wasn’t good enough.

Everything else was lovely, though. Maxime Desmons has a great touch with symbols, and they mostly felt organic to the story: Maurice as an actor (ie: a professional liar) playing the Miser (hoarding his gold, hoarding his feelings, driving everybody away): Allan’s gift of the little diorama, with its secret photos, which Maurice locks away in a cupboard, secrets within secrets. It did get heavy-handed near the end, such as when Maurice is running down the main street, then stops running (hint hint) and looks back.

The closing scene, with Maurice stripping naked and swimming in the open water of Lake Nipissing, also felt a bit clumsy at first, but in hindsight works on multiple levels. The sea is a common symbol of birth or rebirth, but here it’s also contrasted with the constrained indoor swimming pool where Maurice always swims. You could see it as the freedom of a new life lived without walls and secrets: much scarier, but ultimately more fulfilling. Honestly, I’m suspicious of any epiphany that supposedly makes one’s hangups magically disappear, but hey: this is fiction, it’s got to end somehow, so why not do it in an optimistic way?

A Girl At My Door / Dohee-Ya

This Korean movie, directed by July Jung, is challenging but not dark, and never gets bogged down by the hard questions it asks: about justice, about evil, following the law vs doing what’s right, the rights of individuals vs the needs of the group.

Police officer Young-Nam (played by the amazing Doona Bae) has been assigned to be chief of a small fishing town in the country. She used to live in Seoul, but an affair with a woman (or an underage girl? that part is never made clear) led to her superiors getting her out of the way for a bit until things blew over. Young-Nam settles in well enough, though she remains quite distant from the locals, even the local cops, and we learn she drinks like a fish. Seriously, one scene has her buying dozens of bottles of booze which she repeatedly gulps down like it was water.

Soon she gets caught up in the life of Dohee, a local schoolgirl who not only is bullied by her schoolmates, but also beaten by her father and grandmother. Almost every night she runs through the town’s back alleys near Young-Nam’s place, which is how she saw her. The bullying is easy to take care of: a little chat with the culprits while in full uniform is enough to put the fear of God in them, but the abuse is a different story.

After a few days Young-Nam manages to catch the father in the act; she knocks him away from Dohee, and then—while pinning him down and fending off the grandmother’s clumsy attacks—calls in backup. It was a fucking awesome scene. I cheered. The whole audience cheered. But it wasn’t the end. Dohee’s dad still has custody, still drinks, and still threatens to beat her up. On his first night back, Dohee shows up at Young-Nam’s doorstep. Not really having any options, Young-Nam lets her stay the night. This turns into a regular thing; Young-Nam is not happy with her space being invaded like this, and very uncomfortable with her new role of caregiver, but she really wants to help and protect the girl. And so eventually, Dohee wants to stay permanently. The father doesn’t really argue, but Young-Nam at least puts her foot down a little: Dohee will stay for about a month, until the end of summer vacation.

Two problems: first, Dohee has been living with abuse most of her life and while most of the time she’s fine, she tends to act out in very disturbing ways that Young-Nam is absolutely not prepared to deal with. Second, Young-Nam’s ex rolls into town, and they have dinner together. And argue, like they must have argued many times before: about Young-Nam’s drinking, her standoffishness, etc… that still doesn’t keep them from being seen by some locals including Dohee’s father, who puts 2 and 2 together.

Before you know it, Young-Nam is taken in for questioning about having improper relations with Dohee, and it doesn’t look good. Did she ever undress her? Yes (because she was soaking wet from hours in the rain). Did she ever touch her at all? Yes (to comfort her, and feel the nasty bruises on her back). Young-Nam protests that she did nothing wrong, but the other officers retort that her being gay puts a different spin on things. Dohee is also questioned, and it looks even worse: she’s clearly infatuated with Young-Nam, admits to being touched, and even points out where on a doll.

But upon learning that this all means Young-Nam will be taken away, Dohee hatches a plan: she gets her father drunk, and sets things up so the police catches him in the middle of molesting her. Later, after he’s taken away, she “confesses” that he’d made her say all those incriminating things about Young-Nam. Eventually realising that Dohee has nowhere to go except foster care, Young-Name decides to take her in, and they ride out town together.

Now let’s talk about monsters.

Near the end, a junior police officer told Young-Nam that there was something wrong with Dohee, that she was “a monster” (and then quickly apologised for speaking out of turn). He may be right, but if so, she was made into one, by the constant abuse and bullying she suffered. In turn, was her father a monster? He did physically and emotionally abuse his daughter, and kept the town’s economy going by hiring illegal immigrants that he cheated out of their wages, but I’m willing to bet he suffered similar abuse at the hands of his bigoted mother. And so it goes.

Are the townspeople monsters? They mostly didn’t care about the foreigners’ welfare, only that they kept on catching fish; resident police officers definitely knew the truth and tried to keep Young-Nam from interfering. They felt bad about it, for what that’s worth.

Come to that, is Young-Nam a monster? She is a dedicated officer, who believes in justice and fairness… but some will see her as intrinsically bad just because she’s a lesbian. And what drives her to drink like she does? What pain does she hide? What demons is she trying to suppress?

What I’m getting from this is that no one is born a “monster”, but the potential to hurt others is in everybody, and that can be either nurtured or discouraged. Which is a lifelong process that can go either way. We don’t see Young-Nam drinking any less by the end of the movie, but her relationship with Dohee will hopefully help both of them in the long run. And even if it doesn’t… well, sometimes you just have to do what’s right and hope for the best. Take in the terrified girl at your door, because right this second you’re all she has.

I could talk about justice as well: Young-Nam is a police officer, but most of the plot happens outside her official role. She seems to be the only officer around who really cares about doing good in the community, not just enforcing law, not just about keeping the peace—deceptive peace, when beatings occur in people’s back yards that nobody does anything about. She believes the law is there to help the community as a whole, but not at the expense of individuals’ rights or happiness. Keeping the town’s economy afloat is not worth it if it means enslaving undocumented immigrants, or letting one girl be abused.

And did Dohee find justice in the end? No: getting her father jailed wasn’t justice. Possibly-maybe getting her grandmother killed wasn’t justice either. But it was the closest thing she’ll get get, since the law wouldn’t help her or the only woman who cared about her.

I’m trying to decide if this an idealist movie. Is the moral that we should try to change the world? Is it worth fighting the monsters? Apathetic cops let Dohee’s father’s abuses go for years, and they’re clearly portrayed as wrong. The world is a slightly better place now that her two people are dead or gone. But fighting monsters is hard, and they don’t go down in just one round. Try to change the world, and it’s liable to fuck you right back.

Is it worth the struggle? For Young-Nam, I think it was. I guess we all have to decide for ourselves.

Game Face

This is a documentary about two people: trans MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and college basketball player Terrence Clemens. Two very different people who deal with similar problems: deciding when and how to come out and whether or not it will affect their careers; dealing with prejudice.

It’s a story about role models, too. Terrence had a few, most notably Jason Collins who he reached out to on Twitter. Fallon, though, had no one. She’s the first openly trans MMA fighter. But she’s happy being a role model and voice for others, now and after she retires.

This was a very inspiring movie. Even heavily gendered and reactionary sports like MMA have come such a long way in the last few years, and it’s people like Fallon who are paving the way for the next generation. There’s still a long way to go, but the future’s in good hands.

My only complaint about Game Face is that it’s really two separate movies: the events they portray happen at around the same time, but Terrence and Fallon only met briefly once. Same themes, very different stories, and the whole is a bit disjointed.

After the movie, they brought out Terrence and director Michiel Thomas for a little Q&A. Unfortunately Fallon couldn’t make it due to her training schedule. Terrence has a wicked sense of humour, very dry and deadpan. I wish we’d seen more of that in the movie, though I guess there wasn’t much room for levity.

Still Not Over It: 70 Years of Queer Canadian Film

And here we have a sampling of queer Canadian cinema. Some great, some puzzling, some that kind of left me cold but I did appreciate for their historical value. Because every single one is a little window into a particular time and place, another piece of the puzzle that is our LGBTQ+ family. One of the questions raised in the Q&A is whether we really are one community; whether, e.g., a white gay male animator in 1940’s Winnipeg is kin with an Asian closeted gay male in 1970’s Vancouver, a white lesbian in 1980’s Montreal, all us lovely people sitting in a theatre in 2015, and whoever’s reading this blog post in the future?

I think the answer is, sometimes. Not always, that’s for sure. But if the answer were a hard “no,” then we wouldn’t even have this festival, am I right? There’s got to be something we all have in common, some little thread of shared culture, shared experiences. And maybe that’s one of the purposes of the VQFF, to shine a light on all our diverse lives, and make the word “we” just a little bit bigger every time.

That’s what I think anyway.

On to the shorts.

Boogie Doodle, by Norman McLaren (1940). Some very pretty and abstract nonsense with a catchy soundtrack. No story that I could see, let alone any gay themes. McLaren himself was gay, though, so here it goes.

60 Unit Bruise, by Paul Wong (1976). Oh, this one. I’ve seen this short before, and I absolutely couldn’t understand it. What was the point of filming yourself receiving someone else’s blood to make a bruise? Fortunately, the director (and bruise receiver) was there to answer questions. The blood exchange was not meant to be homoerotic; rather, it was a bonding practice between two needle-sharing partners. And they filmed it this one time, since that’s what amateur filmmakers do. So that’s the story: Wong and his partner were just bros, doing work. Mind you, they also happened to be lovers at the time. And now their work is being reread, reinterpreted, as part of a long lineup of historical works.

So… When Did You Figure Out You Had AIDS?, by Vincent Chevalier (1996). A weird little home video starring Chevalier as an AIDS patient, and a friend of his as the talk show host interviewing him. The humour ranges between random and tasteless, but hey, they were kids. And the movie’s kind of prophetic, because Chevalier did later both get diagnosed and go into acting.

L’usure by Jeanne Crépeau (1985). Hey, Jeanne Crépeau‘s been doing lesbian drama for a while, apparently! This little short about two women sorta-kinda breaking up, and then not, is all right, but not really that engaging. It was nice to see her name, though.

Gayblevision, 1982. A few clips from the Gayblevision show, which ran in Vancouver from 1980 to 1986. Some lovely black-and-white vignettes of gay & lesbian life in our fair city.

1919, 1996. A silent-movie-style retelling of the Winnipeg General Strike, focused on Sammy Wong’s combination steam bath and barbershop. Come for a good trim, stay for a little companionship, leave infected with communism.

Cornet at Night, by Stanley Jackson (1963). From the rolling farmlands of Saskatchewan comes the story of a boy who meets a young trumpet-playing man from the city, who briefly charms his family. This is a lovely black and white film with awesome music (both natural and man-made), artfully dealing with coded gay affection and identity.

The Guest / La Visita

I really didn’t know how to feel about this movie. It was interesting and well done, with some lovely cinematography, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters—especially the main character Elena, who rarely emoted and was a total cipher. So my initial impression was not too positive.

But then I wondered if I was missing the point: that maybe the real story is not about Elena, but all the zany dysfunctional goings-on in the household and she was mostly an observer. Maybe. Or maybe there are layers here that I don’t get because I’m not familiar with Argentinean queer cinema.

Or, maybe I’m overanalysing. That’s been known to happen.

Still, I can only judge what I see on the screen, and I can only relate my honest reaction. And honestly, I’m not feeling this movie. I really wanted to get to know Elena—the title character, after all—but I had nothing to work with. We learn nothing about her, her life, her past, or what makes her tick. We only see Daniela Vega emote a couple of times, but both those times were very powerful and spoke to me of Elena’s love for her family mixed with very ambivalent (at best) feelings for her past and religion. I really wish we could have seen more of that.

Aside from that frustrating aspect, the movie was quite fun. This household was full of repressed Catholic stereotypes, but they worked: the cheating husband, the crazy grandma in the upstairs bedroom, slutty maids, loony kids, and nobody can come out and just say anything frankly. They all have to tiptoe around their feelings, and announce friendship or reconciliation by giving out articles of clothing or something.

Not enough, though. I really wanted to cheer for this movie, because how often do we get to see a trans actress playing a trans character? But without a protagonist to anchor it, the movie just didn’t come together for me. Oh well.

Queer Best Of: International Shorts

A sampling of contemporary LGBT shorts from all over the world. All are absolutely wonderful, though it could have used a bit more “international” since all but one were made in Canada or the States.

In Glory Hole (San Francisco), a nice older couple recounts how they met. Yes, it was in the back room of a sleazy SF bookstore. And yes, they’ve been together over 20 years. Hilarious, adorable and heartwarming.

In First Clue (San Francisco) several women talk about their first crush, first kiss, first time they realised they were queer, etc… Funny and fascinating. Everyone has a different story to tell!

Float (USA) is a mesmerising collage of trans and genderqueer folks swimming underwater. Serene and inspiring.

San Cristóbal (Chile): in a small Chilean fishing town, the affair between two men is interrupted by a bashing. Then one of the two plans to move to Canada, and they have a tearful farewell. It was an interesting (though not exactly pleasant) contrast with every other short, in that it featured homophobia and closeted people.

Pepper / Le piment (Montreal) is hilariously awkward and awkwardly hilarious. The morning after a threesome, not everything is going smoothly. One woman is feeling left out and jealous that her partner and the extra woman have tons in common and are suddenly chatting like old friends. Everybody tries to smooth things over, unsuccessfully.

The Future Perfect (Vancouver). As weird and creepy as the first time I saw it.

Kumu Hina: A Place in the Middle (Hawaii): this is a documentary about a school that teaches traditional Hawaiian language and culture—which, like a lot of other First Nations cultures, has a special place for trans / genderqueer people; the school’s amazing head teacher is trans herself, and those students couldn’t be in better hands. A fascinating look at a culture I knew absolutely nothing about, and a great way to cap off the evening.

Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn

Peter de Rome was a sweet, unassuming British gentleman, who got famous making gay porn in the 60s and 70s. His films were rediscovered in recent years, allowing a new generation to honour him for the pioneer he was.

What’s interesting about de Rome’s porn is that at first he didn’t intend to make money with it, or even to show it to the general public. He was just really interested in film, and started filming the tricks he took home—even on the street before he went up to talk to them. His stuff is completely spontaneous and unscripted, and has a very playful, sensual and unself-conscious energy. Eventually word got around, he started getting guys asking to star in his films; some awards followed; and then in the mid-70’s he got backing for two feature-length pictures. Looked interesting, too, based on the bits we saw, with nice visuals and actual stories. Adam and Yves is about a love affair in Paris between a Frenchman and an American tourist, while The Destroying Angel is creepy Catholic-flavoured horror. There’s incubi, hallucinations, guilty priests and a handless cum shot from a crucified guy.

I see this documentary as kind of a sequel to those very old-timey porn shorts I saw a couple years ago. Only kind of, though: there’s no direct continuity since de Rome was just doing his own thing. But it’s still neat to see how sensibilities, aesthetics and even politics evolved. Just another snapshot in gay men’s self-reflection and how they historically got off. And now decades later, what used to be seen as deviant and shameful is shown in film festivals and discussed openly by academics. What a strange, wonderful world we live in.

Sad news, though: according to Wikipedia, Peter de Rome passed away in 2014, after this documentary was made. He was just a few days short of his 90th birthday.