Archive for the ‘ Films ’ Category

Recommendation: The Laramie Project

If you have never seen the play “The Laramie Project,” I hereby insist that you see it. For those unfamiliar with it, The Laramie Project is a play written by the Tectonic Theater Project after conducting hundreds of interviews in Laramie, Wyoming, following the brutal beating of Matthew Shepard in 1998. The play chronically life in the town of Laramie during the year following the murder.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing a local university production. Pleasure may not be the correct word, however, as it’s an emotionally draining play. The cast of eight actors all play multiple roles, from friends, to law enforcement, the accused, to the family. I’m not one to cry during theater peformances, but I felt a few tears.

I had seen the play many years ago at a small local theater. I know that it was prior to 2003, and I’m pretty sure I was in middle school. The first time I saw it, I was shocked by the use of the words “faggot” and “dyke,” but also thrilled to know that gay people existed everywhere. This time I was struck by how much a tragedy affects an entire community. Just as studies on larger human rights violations often end in an exploration of the aftermath that the entire community must face, The Laramie Project explores how one event can change the course of a town.

I don’t want to give away too much more. The Laramie Project is one of the most performed plays in American. Find a production near you. If that fails, check out the film based on the play. Or check out the script from your local library. It’s worth it. I promise.

Watch It: XXY

Tonight, I had the pleasure of viewing the Argentinian film XXY as part of the Florida State University’s Gay and Lesbian film festival.

Directed by Lucía Puenzo and based on the short story “Cinismo” by Sergio Bizzio (anyone know where I can find this?), this film explores the sexual awakening and life changing decisions of a intersex teenager, Alex, and her parents.

The trailer doesn’t do it justice, but I will share anyways.

The Spanish language trailer is a little more telling, for those who can understand it.

Given that the film is entitled XXY, I pulled out an old textbook, Transformations: Women, Gender, and Psychology, to check the facts. From page 138: “XXY, or Kleinfelter’s syndrome […] causes men to have a less masculine physique and appearance (small penis and testicles, enlarged breasts, little body hair, and a high-pitched voice).” However, those with Kleinfelter’s syndrome are men. In contrast, Alex presents as a woman, taking hormones to prevent masculinization, and posses both male and female genitalia.

Medical inaccuracies aside, XXY is a touching and challenging coming-of-age story. It managed to avoid sensationalism and exploitation, instead presenting a heart-felt human drama. It raises questions, and challenges our ideas of love, romance, identity, sexuality, and all the related definitions. I’ll admit it, this movie left me in tears.

I don’t want to say too much, because I think this is a film that everyone should watch.  Given that I saw this movie alone, I would like to decompress and debrief. How about this, dear readers: Add it to your Netflix cue, watch it, and then get back to me. There are many issues raised, and I’d love to start a conversation.

Sharing: Ghetto Ballet

I’m not a big television person, but when I do laundry at the ‘rents, I enjoy flipping on their flat screen TV and checking out what is “On Demand.”

Today, I came across the HBO documentary Ghetto Ballet. The documentary profiles several young dancers enrolled at Dance for All, South Africa’s first ballet-training program for youth from Cape Town’s poorest townships. The film offers a glimpse into the escape, dreams, and opportunities that ballet offers these young students. As a former dancer myself, I was fascinated. Moreover, I was impressed that the film explored issues of body ideals and poverty (This once again struck a personal chord, as I quit ballet largely because I tired of being told how my body was “wrong.”).

At 33 minutes in length, a lot was left out. However, it’s still an interesting documentary for anyone interested in the arts, Africa, dance, or youth in developing countries. It’s worth half an hour of your time.