GA Voice

Out On Film Goes Queer All Year

- Steve Warren For tickets and more details, go to­ents/queer-allyear-2024.

There was a time when we were lucky to see ourselves on screen once a year, in a “Desert Hearts,” “Transameri­ca” or “The Boys in the Band,” not counting Paul Lynde camping it up on TV. Now we get “Rustin,” “Nyad,” “Saltburn,” “Bottoms,” “Maestro,” “Kokomo City,” and “All of Us Strangers” within a few months of each other, while nearly every network and cable series has at least one queer character.

Yet, festivals like Out On Film still fill in many cracks, spotlighti­ng independen­t and foreign films that might be hard to find elsewhere, if they’re available at all.

Out On Film is expanding with a three-film minifest this spring, from March 19 to 21, at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. The overall title, Queer All Year, suggests this may not be the last of them.

Set in Pakistan, Egypt, and England, the films present something of an audio challenge, with most English-speaking actors heavily accented and limited, if any, subtitles.


March 19 at 7pm At the outset, Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), a popular drag performer, is enjoying life, but is paranoid when alone on dark London streets at night. We see why when he encounters a homophobic gang in a convenienc­e store and talks back to one of them. Moments later he’s lying, bloodied, on one of those dark streets. Three months later, Jules — who has become a virtual recluse — recognizes his chief attacker, Preston (George MacKay) in a gay bathhouse, but Preston doesn’t recognize him. As he formulates his revenge, Jules studies online videos that have outed closet cases. Soon he’s having sex regularly with Preston, butching it up when he can’t avoid Preston’s mates, while trying to figure out how to film their sessions. It’s no spoiler to say there will be more violence before it’s over. Writer-directors Sam H.

Freeman and Ng Choon Ping include plenty of sex, but we hear more Cockney than we see cock.

The Queen of My Dreams

Wednesday, March 20 at 7pm For half an hour or so, “The Queen of My Dreams” seemed headed for my year-end “Best” list. It’s bright, serious fun with a Bollywood color palette. It begins in Toronto in 1999, the same year “Drive-Away Dolls” takes place (and coincident­ally uses some similar tricky editing). Azra (Amrit Kaur) is enjoying her girlfriend when her mother, Mariam (Nimra Bucha) calls and they exchange unpleasant­ries. Soon, Mariam calls again. Azra’s father died while they were visiting their native Pakistan and Azra will have to go there for the funeral — or as close as Muslims let women get to a funeral. Scenes in 1969 show that Mariam (now played by Kaur) had generation­al problems with her mother too, including being unable to tell her the man she wants to marry will be moving them to Canada. So far, so very

good (except when the subtitles stop in midspeech because the speaker has switched from Urdu to barely intelligib­le English), but then a third time period is added: 1989, when Azra was 12 and beginning to realize she liked girls. Mother and daughter share an admiration of beautiful Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore, perhaps for the same reason, but Mariam would never admit it. Writerdire­ctor Fawzia Mirza gets overwhelme­d at times trying to compare three eras while celebratin­g and criticizin­g Pakistani Muslim culture, but the film’s still worth seeing.

The Judgment

Thursday, March 21 at 7pm Leading men Junes Zahdi and Freddy Shahin are easy on the eyes, but “The Judgment” can be painful to watch — sometimes intentiona­lly so — because of its subject matter. As in “The Queen of My Dreams,” a queer goes from North America to their ancestral Asian home — in this case, Egypt. These days many of us have the luxury of being able to be out all

the time, while others still have revolving doors on their closets. Mo (Zahdi) and Hisham (Shahin) are out in America, but know they’ll have to be deeply closeted in homophobic Alexandria. Still, someone finds out about Mo and enlists witchcraft to punish him for his “sins.” What’s odd is that while they make out all the time (in private), Mo, a self-proclaimed atheist, insists they wait until they’re married to have actual sex. A red star in the sky is some kind of sign, but the creatures who bedevil — and sometimes attack — our heroes take different forms. Mo sees his childhood self, while Hisham sees the adult Mo performing the same actions. It’s a lot to absorb, not helped by the fact that it’s hard to tell what language most of the supporting players are speaking, let alone what they say. A few subtitles pop up in the second half, but more for prayers than key dialogue.

 ?? COURTESY IMAGE ?? Out On Film is expanding with a three-film minifest this spring, from March 19 to 21, at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.
COURTESY IMAGE Out On Film is expanding with a three-film minifest this spring, from March 19 to 21, at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.

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