Thursday, 20 May 2010

Inside Out 2010: Undertow, Eyes Wide Open & The Secret Diary of Miss Anne Lister

Above: Undertow / Contracorriente

Undertow / Contracorriente
Writer/Dir: Javier Fuentes-León
Cast: Cristian Mercado, Manolo Cardona, Tatiana Astengo

Set in a Peruvian village and centred on the hidden relationship between the closeted Miguel (Cristian Mercado) and open Santiago (Manolo Cardona), Undertow / Contracorriente does a brilliant job exploring the complexities of visibility and choice in a setting that subtly yet openly homophobic. Complicating the scenario, Miguel's wife Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) is pregnant and therefore he divides his time between leading a life with her and spending time with Santiago. This brings in an imbalance in their relationship and aptly dipicts the struggles between being someones everything versus having multiple relationship commitments. The film continually unfolds to juxtapose many divides including a beautiful take on representing the choice of embracing or hiding identity. It's beautifully shot and emotionally charged, making the viewing experience not only gorgeous but touching as well. The strong performances are a highlight here, giving us 3 dimensional characters that really connect, live and breathe on the screen. And I'll admit - it even made me cry. It's a powerful emotional journey that is well worth taking.

Undertow / Contracorriente is the Centrepiece Gala film and screens at Inside Out on:
Tuesday May 25, 2010 at 9:30pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre

Above: Eyes Wide Open / Einaym Pkuhot

Eyes Wide Open / Einaym Pkuhot
Dir: Haim Tabakman
Cast: Zohar Shtrauss, Ran Danker, Tinkerbell

Eyes Wide Open / Einaym Pkuhot is easily one of the best I've seen of the festival films so far, and I'm not surprized at all that it played at Cannes in 2009 and won awards several of the festivals it's been to. Set in an ultra-orthodox Jewish district in Jerusalem we meet the neighbourhood butcher Aaron (Zohar Shtrauss) as he meets a young stranger Ezri (Ran Danker). The title here is surprizingly succinct, exploring the concept of knowing exactly what you are getting into, however with the perspective of a struggle being a good challenge of character therefore diving right in. I was not expecting this even through it's right there in front and centre. The film delves into themes religion, "acceptable" behaviour and consequence with a clear presence without being overly heavy handed. But the true highlight of the film is the chemistry, which is intense. In fact, it's freaking smoking. It also has an amazing subtle balance of awareness and resistance that holds the tension beautifully. It's a sure fire hit, and is not to be missed.

Eyes Wide Open / Einaym Pkuhot screens at Inside Out on:
Monday May 24, 2010 at 9:15pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre

Above: The Secret Diary of Miss Anne Lister

The Secret Diary of Miss Anne Lister
Dir: James Kent
Cast: Maxine Peake, Anna Madeley, Susan Lynch

As the title infers, The Secret Diary of Miss Anne Lister follows the life of Anne Lister (1791-1840), inspired by the diaries that she wrote in code. The BBC-produced film has all ear marks of a British period piece with great settings, fabulous costumes and impressive dialogue, but also warms in passion and love. Maxine Peake does a fantastic job as Anne Lister, who's quite the cad and I loved seeing her strength, drive and persistence. She was absolutely unwilling to be anyone but herself, to live her life how she saw fit and love who she loved. Magnetic and driven, she's a beautiful representation of strength of character. Someone who knows and asks for what she wants - I love that. No denial, no beating around the bush, yet still is able to maintain an air of mystery and romance. Brilliant.

The Secret Diary of Miss Anne Lister is the Closing Gala film and screens at Inside Out on:
Sunday May 30, 2010 at 7:30pm at the Bloor Theatre

For more information, check out the Inside Out website, Film Schedule, Festival Planner, Online Box Office, Ticket Availability, Box Office Information, Venue Information and Party Information.

The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival 2010 runs from May 20-30, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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