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Pink Movie Days 2018: 21st Edition of the Amsterdam Queer Film Festival

by Werner Borkes in Films & Books , 06 maart 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Again, for eleven days in a row, cinema Het Ketelhuis on the Westergasterrein will serve as Holland’s GLBTQ hotspot from March 8 until March 18. The twenty-first edition of Amsterdam’s queer film festival has an impressive number of 140 screenings with the most beautiful and interesting gay cinema on offer. To get in the mood, but also to choose from 125 titles, we present some of the highlights here.

Opening Night: Hello Again

The festival will kick off on Thursday, March 8, with the Dutch première of “Hello Again.” The ten main characters are seducing or are being seduced, and exchange sexual preference as they travel through time. It is an ode to timeless love, for each and every one.

Director Tom Gustafson is familiar with the festival (his films “Were The World Mine” and “Getting Go” were shown earlier), and he knows how to provide each era with the appropriate music and settings. Featuring Broadway and Hollywood stars, such as Cheyenne Jackson, T.R. Knight and Sam Underwood.
Hello Again

Forever and Always

Enjoy this collection of special films, full of odes to gay love - On budding happiness, eternal love and all its obstacles.

God's Own CountryOne of the films people have been looking forward to for a long time is the romantic British drama “God’s Own Country.” Johnny, a handsome sheep farmer, the rough type, discovers love with a foreign seasonal worker. During the lambing season he gets help from the attractive Romanian Gheorghe.

Johnny normally expresses his emotional awkwardness and frustrations through drink and sex on the run, but now discovers through Gheorghe feelings he hadn’t previously experienced.

A moment in the Reeds
Romance in “A Moment in the Reeds.” This time between a student and a Syrian refugee. Leevi is helping his father with the refurbishment of his holiday home. As his father is pressed for time, he hires a handyman. He is not enthusiastic when it turns out that Tareq is from Syria, but the job has to be done and he leaves the two men be. Their chemistry is undeniable, and they quickly become intimate.

In “The Marriage,” Bekim is preparing for the wedding day with his wife-to-be, Anita. But then musician Nol, the secret ex-lover of Bekim, unexpectedly returns to Kosovo. Anita welcomes Nol with open arms, not knowing that the two had a secret passionate relationship. These feelings are still mutual, and they continue their secret relationship. On the wedding day, this unusual love triangle becomes unravelled.
The Marriage

Unconventional romance can be found in “After Louie.” Sam, played by Alan Cumming, is an artist and activist living through the first years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Bewildered, he watches a younger generation of gay men, with their uninhibited use of social media, sexting and political indifference. But when he meets the seductive young Braeden (Zachary Booth) in a bar, he lets go of his anger. The men start an unconventional relationship based on lust. An emotional generational clash cannot be far behind.

When the Israeli businessman Oren enters the small Berlin bar where shy Tomas works as a baker, they immediately are attracted to each other. The men are happy together, but then fate strikes with Oren’s sudden death. Tomas is desperate and decides to travel to Israel in search of Oren’s unaware widow.

With fantastic acting and wonderful imagery, “The Cakemaker” is a moving story about love, sadness and sorrow.

Many films about relationships end at the point where the couple has found happiness. However, for the director of “Paths,” the interesting stories begin there: What makes people decide to stay together, or separate after being together for a long time? Martin and Andreas revisit the Baltic Sea every year in this beautiful relationship drama. They promised each other to do so at the beginning of their relationship. But this year is different - it no longer feels like they are together. A beautifully melodramatic and familiar relationship drama.

The old charismatic Giulio has been living with his partner Claudio for years. Claudio, however, now is seriously ill. Giulio has lost all their money playing poker, but he can still bluff like the best of them. In the bedroom Claudio is spending his days in, these financial troubles are not to be noticed. Every day the charmer brings a rose, as a sign of his love, to accompany breakfast in bed. Would playing poker solve his money problems once more? “Who Will Save the Roses?” is a touching and beautiful film about love in later life, also offering some food for thought.

We Are Thr3e” succeeds in showing the viewer a positive romantic relationship that goes beyond traditional conventions. Nacho meets Ana at a party. When they order a drink together, they both start flirting with the sexy and charismatic bartender, Sebastian. Despite their doubts, Nacho and Ana accept Sebastian’s invitation to spend the night at his home. What starts as a casual one-night stand quickly changes into something else when Sebastian confesses that he wants a long-term relationship with a man and a woman.

Touko Laaksonen is known to the rest of the world as “Tom of Finland.” He became famous for his homoerotic pencil drawings of hyper-muscled men in uniform, such as motorcyclists, police officers and construction workers.

In this compelling biopic, we see Laaksonen struggling to hide his nature in the primitive, post-war Finland, getting involved in secret affairs and clandestine orgies. We also see his great love Veli and his international successes that turned him into a celebrated gay icon.

Nothing Is What It Seems

The Strange Ones
The festival also includes a number of exciting, mysterious and entertaining thrillers. They are wonderfully exiting, keeping you at the edge of your seat or misleading you every time. In “The Strange Ones,” two brothers are on a holiday. Or perhaps not? From the very beginning it is clear that something is not quite right about the story of the young Sam and the older Nick. Main lead Alex Pettyfer is transformed from the hottie in “Magic Mike” to an excellent and intriguing actor.

RiftAfter a break-up with his ex-boyfriend Gunnar, Einar retreats to a summer house on an Icelandic peninsula. One night he calls Gunnar to ask if he wants to drop by. When the former lovers try to find out where things went wrong, someone tries to break in. The tension in “Rift” starts increasing when it turns out that these two issues are connected.

When the married couple Marc and Fred reappear at the B&B of the heavily Christian Josh after a year’s time, it is mainly to bully: they have won a lawsuit concerning Josh’s refusal to give them a double bed. Things only seem to get better in “B&B” when Josh’s son turns out to be hiding deep in the closet. After a shadowy Russian guest checks in, however, they soon have to fight for their lives in this entertaining nail-biter.

In the beautifully styled and erotic “Driver” there is only one question left to be answered for the handsome actors: Who can you trust? Kade is confronted with the disappearance of her man Tae after his business trip to Korea and gets help from Mac, her husband’s driver. Mac helps her discover one of Tae’s secrets, but opens a Pandora’s box.

The Next Generation

Olly is in love with his best friend Luke. Luke, however, would never consider him, as he is straight as can be. When Olly has to undergo another operation because of his physical limitations, he gets the opportunity to exchange bodies in “Pulse.” In this daring film with fantasy and sci-fi elements, Olly chooses the body of a beautiful and able-bodied woman in the hope that Luke will finally become sexually attracted to him. A special love drama and delicious take on the “body swap” genre.

Mikku is seventeen and still a virgin. With their parents out, his big brother tries to set him up with the girl next door. It is not a success. All is revealed when he meets the self-assured Elias. “Screwed” is a must-see that will boost your spirits, full of witty dialogues and familiar misunderstandings. A beautiful Finnish summer love, who would not want that? But is father watching gay porn now?

In “Saturday Church” the soft-hearted Ulysses is struggling with his faith and identify. His mother, but mostly his dominant aunt Rose are keeping a close eye on him. He finds a temporary way out in a fantasy world full of dance and music. When he is introduced to the vibrant transgender community, he soon discovers his passion for vogueing.

After an incident at his old school, Ethan has to go to Seymour High, and quickly joins the Emos. Armed with black eye-shadow and playing in the band “Worst Day Ever” they will have to do battle with their big enemies, the insufferable positive Christians who also have their own band. “Emo the Musical” is uncomplicated entertainment, making even the blackest day sunny again.
Emo the Musical

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Like certain members of our community, there are also movies that can’t be categorized. And that is especially nice for the much-needed change.

We follow four residents of an apartment complex in Zagreb. They have been neighbors for years, but completely avoid each other. Vjeko is gay, and shares his father’s extreme right-wing ideas. Due to circumstances he will now have to deal with his neighbor of Serbian origin. “The Constitution” is intriguing and highly recommended. It deals with the thin lines between repulsion, prejudice and sexuality.

A group of friends from Brussels, all around thirty years of age, have an extensive and complex sex life. But that doesn’t seem to make them any happier, certainly not when Hugo dies. Everyone reacts in his or her own way, and on a camping trip with the whole group things erupt. The sexy cast of “Even Lovers Get the Blues” is driven to candid and engaging acting, in which all sexual identities come to the surface.

Kartik is a young photographer, living in Mumbai for years now. He returns to his conservative home town to tell his parents that he is now living with his handsome boyfriend. His parents, however, have chosen a beautiful young girl for him, keen on a traditional wedding. “Evening Shadows” is a beautiful, important and award-winning film about suffocating traditions, family ties and GLBT rights.

The young director Géraud has been invited to show his latest, rather artistic, movie “My Life With James Dean” in a desolate and over-the-hill seaside resort. In this charming, bizarre and entertaining comedy, he is quickly distracted by the confessions of the director of the festival and by the handsome young man who is in charge of projection.

Charlie can play soccer. He is such a good player that he is spotted by a talent scout. Great news for his father Paul, who wants to use Charlie to compensate for his own unsuccessful soccer career. That dream is chattered when Charlie no longer wants to deny wanting to be a girl. With great acting “Just Charlie” paints a beautiful picture of how a run-of-the-mill family deals with change.

When Iyay’s ex-husband Jesus dies, she gathers her children around her to go to the funeral. Her children (Hubert, who has Down syndrome, Jude, the transman with pangs of love, and the slacking Jay) reluctantly step into the tiny van to go on a road trip through the Philippines. What should have been a serious journey soon becomes a series of hilarious failures, detours and adventures that will bring the family closer together. “Jesus is Dead” is an extremely funny and festive film for everyone.

Deeper and Deeper

The festival provides both entertainment and depth; food for thought, and room for discussion. This year, attention is paid to icons and relevant gay history.

In honor of the Tom of Finland feature film during this festival we honor the artist with a screening of the digitally restored classic “Daddy and the Muscle Academy.” At a time when gay art elicited a stream of protest from the moral majority, Tom of Finland’s work served as an inspiration for gay men around the world. His drawings have become blueprints of the gay community and are internationally recognized symbols of gay pride. With one of the few known interviews with the artist himself.

Model, gay icon, actress and singer: the androgynous bishop’s daughter Grace Jones is all of this. In the 1980s she bridged the gap between disco and new wave with albums such as “Nightclubbing” and “Slave to the Rhythm.” Today, she has lost nothing of her magic and power. In “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami” we see her new and intensely personal work, and follow her from the glamour of Paris and London to the simple hut of her old neighbor in the mountains of Jamaica.

Husein is twenty-four and of Syrian descent. As a refugee in Istanbul, he awaits a possible go-ahead to relocate somewhere in Europe. He is married, has a young daughter, and has to keep his homosexuality a secret for his conservative family. To give publicity to homosexuality among Syrians, he decides to participate in the “Mr Gay Syria” contest. An intimate, loving and sometimes poignant portrait.

Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall
Todrick Hall is an American singer, actor, dancer, director, drag queen, choreographer, popular YouTuber and an example for many queer youngsters. The candid film provides a glimpse behind the scenes of his most ambitious project to date: the autobiographical musical “Straight Outta Oz.” The documentary “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall” is a remarkable portrait of a creative brain.

My Wonderful West Berlin” is a historic journey through the first confusing years after the Second World War up to the 1990s. The special status of the city, the great social and political changes and the uninhibited hedonistic culture all come to the city; from disco to demonstrations. The darker sides are also covered, from the AIDS epidemic to excessive use of drugs. A rich depiction of the many personalities that together have formed gay culture and history.

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” is a declaration of love to the man and his work, as well as a political and cultural portrait of an era. The born storyteller he is, it is a joy to listen to Armistead Maupin. His life from a conservative boy in the deep South of the USA to activist and writer, forever connected to San Francisco, is cleverly combined with the main characters in “Tales Of The City.”

Women He’s Undressed” is a visual gem about the glitter and glamour of Hollywood’s golden years, full of scandal and great anecdotes. Orry-Kelly is a triple Oscar winner and Hollywood designer, whose costumes can be seen in as many as 282 movies. Orry was openly gay in a time Hollywood was extremely homophobic. Although there is no proof of it, it was rumored that he had been in a relationship with Cary Grant.
Women He’s Undressed

Size Does Matter

Cock and Bull 2Also in this edition, titillating short films are again shown at this festival. As always there is the popular “Adventures in Dating” program with stories about on-line dates, cruising and other sexual outings. In “Cock and Bull 2” Wes and Chris hilariously try to breathe life into their sex life. “House of Air” is a challenging anthropological study of sexual behavior. In “Sisak” two Indian men make eye contact on the train every day, but do they dare to take it one step further/ “Les Équilibristes”: sun, sea, sex and pills for a month.

The pornographic “Call Me A Ghost” shows that sex with a ghost does help against depression.
“...Ready For It?” Wherever you are in the world, the taste of one’s first love is bitter-sweet everywhere. In “You’re A Guy!” we see that Willy is pressured to be a man. In the obscure rendezvous hotel “Petit Ami” Jasper discovers one of his date’s secrets. While a bride is selected for Aris, he falls in love with a Western boy in “Pria,” and in “The Other Side” a Mexican teenager travels to the border, hoping to meet his love again.

Expect the unexpected in “Weird & Wonderful.” There is action with real men, high heels, and true love in “Hard Way: The Action Musical.” We see mermen in “Rusalka,” and in “Haygood Eats” the recording for a TV show doesn’t go according to plan. And who would not be interested in the glamorous and campy history lessons “2000 Years of Drag: A Musical Odyssey” has to offer?Hard Way: The Action Musical

Blood will tell in “The Story of Us”: on the relationship between parents and children. In “For the Good Times” a diner with your parents and your new boyfriends all of a sudden becomes awkward. A mother discovers her son’s pornographic past in “Adult,” and mama rules across the grave in “The Whole World” to make the world even better.

Call It What You Want”; about the thin line between gay and straight. “I need to tell you something.” A good conversation in “The Best Moment” is a matter of timing. The inexperienced boy in “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is off cruising, supported by his twin brother. All talk gets its comeuppance in “Scred.” The spontaneous kiss in “Late For Break Time” confuses two soccer players. Over the hill or new beginning? In “Odd Job Man” everyone can do drag.

We are all looking for eternal love, but sometimes it has a best-before date; “Dancing With Our Hands Tied.” One day, the party’s over in “No More We,” while grumpy old men in “Curmudgeons” find love. Sometimes you need a change and just as in “Versatile,” you end up having a top/bottom discussion after being in a relationship for years.

Time to Say Goodbye

Mi Mejor Amigo
The festival closes with the exclusive world premiere of “Mi Mejor Amigo,” in which the chemistry between the two young main characters is flying off the screen. A beautiful and well-acted coming of age drama from Argentine. Lorenzo is a quiet teenager living in a small town in Patagonia. One day Caíto comes to live with him and his family. Lorenzo helps the tough boy to feel at home and new experiences in life, love and sex follow in rapid succession. A wonderful end to the festival.

  And there is so much more to see!



In the New Issue of Gay News, 319, March 2018
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