The 23rd annual OUTshine Film Festival Miami edition’s second week of filming goes through May 2. Due to the pandemic, this year’s festival will be mostly digital, However the Closing Film is an in-person event.
There are many films playing this second week. The two I review are Charlatan and Sublet, and I follow the reviews by highlighting some of the other films. For a full list of all the films go to: Outshinefilm.com.
CLOSING NIGHT – Charlatan
The film will be shown at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (2000 Convention Center Dr, Miami Beach) on Sunday, May 2, from 7 to 11pm. This will be an outdoor screening and attendees are encouraged to grab a chair or bring a blanket and pick a spot on the great lawn to watch the film. This event will feature free popcorn, cocktails & a night under the stars!
Runtime: 118 mins; Language: Czech and German w/ English Subtitles; Director: Agnieszka Holland; Country: Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, 2020; Genre: Drama, Gay, Historical
Charlatan tells the story, although somewhat fictionalized, of Jan Mikolášek, the famous Czech herbalist and faith healer. He treated rich and poor alike and was even known to give poor people money out of his own pocket so they can survive and get well. He also treated powerful Germans during the Nazi occupation and communist officials after the war including Czech president Antonín Zápotocký. Shortly after the latter’s death, Mikolášek (and his assistant) were on trial, as they saw Mikolášek as a “Charlatan.”
The acting by Ivan Trojan (Mikolášek), his real-life son Josef Trojan (who plays the young Mikolášek), and Juraj Loj (assistant Frantisek Palko) is top notch, and very well directed by Agnieszka Holland (no relation to me…LOL). The movie also delves into the rumor that Mikolášek and Palko were lovers. This was based on two facts: 1) Mikolášek’s failure in his marriage and 2) the fact that Palko lived with him for many years. A homoerotic undercurrent between the men is clear from their first scene together, and although it comes to fruition late in the movie, it is worth the wait. The films closing scene is quiet and powerful and leaves you breathless!
Runtime: 105 mins; Language: English and Hebrew w/ English Subtitles; Director: Eytan Fox; Country: Israel, USA, 2020; Genre: Drama, Gay, Slice of Life
Before watching this movie, I had only seen actor John Benjamin Hickey in his appearances on Watch What Happens Live and some guest appearances in popular TV shows but did not know the depth of his acting. After watching Sublet, it is no surprise that Hickey has won a Tony Award, and I would certainly not be surprised if there were many more awards to come for him. His experience as an actor certainly shows in Sublet, and there are many times that words are not spoken, and you are still moved by his performance. Equally as good is newcomer Niv Nissim who amazingly holds his own against the experienced Hickey. Whomever did the casting, Kudos!
Michael (Hickey) is a New York City travel writer visiting Tel Aviv to research his latest assignment. Rather than explore Tel Aviv like a tourist, he wants to see the region through a local’s eyes. When he arrives at the apartment of Tomer (Nissim), Michael not only learns that he will be residing in one of Tel Aviv’s most coveted neighborhoods, but also that his temporary home is nowhere near ready for his occupancy. It soon becomes apparent to Michael that the handsome, scrappy young filmmaker who rented out his apartment to him has nowhere else to go. It is easy for Michael to empathize. After leaving behind an estranged relationship with his husband in New York City, Michael feels a certain kinship with Tomer. As they get to know one another, they find the age gap between them presents less of a hindrance and more of an advantage. Slowly, Michael and Tomer begin to let their guard down and allow for new possibilities to take root in their lives. Funny, touching, and perfectly understated, Sublet is both heartbreaking and brilliant.
At The End Of Evin
Runtime: 78 mins; Language: Farsi w/ English Subtitles; Director: Mohammad and Mehdi Torab-Beigi; Country: Iran, 2021; Genre: Drama, Thiller, Trans; Includes the short film Shedding Skin; Director: Katherina Harder; 17 mins
Moving from a small town to Tehran, Amen is optimistically planning to do gender reassignment surgery, something he has dreamed of long and hard. He meets Naser, a rich man who promises to pay for his surgery but under ever changing conditions in which the full story is never revealed. The general idea is that Amen, who has a very similar voice to Naser’s daughter Annie who is about to inherit her grandmother’s house, is asked to play Annie in front of the grandmother since Annie is nowhere to be found. However, Naser and many others are hiding a big truth about Annie. Using different medicines to control and change him and forcing him to stay in special conditions, they have a wicked plan. Desperate enough to become his true self, Amen goes along with the plan…but how far? At The End of Evin is about the ultimate sacrifice and how far someone might go to be who they truly are, with a decision not many of us could ever make or even understand.
The Man With The Answers
Runtime: 81 mins; Language: English, German, Greek, and Italian w/ English Subtitles; Director: Stelios Kammitsis; Country: Greece, Cyprus, Italy, 2021; Genre: Drama, Gay, Romance
Victor is a hunky, twenty-something ex-diving champion now working in a furniture factory and living with his sick grandmother in a seaside town in Greece. Distraught after her death, he decides to dust off her old car and travel to Germany to visit his estranged mother. On the ferry to Italy, he meets dreamy Matthias, a talkative, inquisitive young German who is on his way home. Matthias persuades Victor to take him along and as they drive north, Victor’s uptight, repressive personality clashes with the more free-spirited Matthias. But they soon find common emotional ground as their summer road trip takes unexpected turns. A tender story of self-discovery, love and family in its many forms.
My Best Part (Garcon Chiffon)
Runtime: 112 mins; Language: French w/ English Subtitles; Director: Nicolas Maury; Country: France, 2020; Genre: Comedy, Drama, Gay; US Premiere
Nothing is going right anymore for Jérémie’s comedy and acting career. His love life is similarly bleak because of his rampant jealousy. Between insufficient funds on his credit card, the cuts and bumps he’s nursing, and his existential doubts this nice yet tormented man is swirling deep inside the vortex of his Paris-based depression. He flees to the country to reset with his slightly invasive mother. My Best Part is a Woody Allen style film which is very funny, but also an extremely moving work that continually surprises.
P.S. Burn This Letter Please
Runtime: 101 mins; Language: English; Director: Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera; Country: USA, 2020; Genre: Documentary, Gay, Historical; Southeast Premiere
A box of letters held in secret for nearly 60 years ignites a 5-year exploration into a part of LGBTQ+ history that has never been told. The letters, written in the 1950s by a group of New York City drag queens, open a window into a forgotten world where being yourself meant breaking the law. This astounding film reconstructs this pre-Stonewall era as nine former drag queens now in their 80s and 90s reveal how they survived and even flourished against all odds. History buffs and drag queen aficionados will unite around P.S. Burn This Letter Please.
Poppy Field (Camp De Maci)
Runtime: 83 mins; Language: Romanian w/ English Subtitles; Director: Eugen Jebeleanu; Country: Romania, 2020; Genre: Drama, Gay
Cristi, a young gendarme from Bucharest, keeps his homosexuality secret since it is a stigma among military ranks. He is in a long-term relationship with Hadi who lives in another city. The same day Hadi comes to visit him for a few days, Cristi is called in for an intervention at a movie theatre where an ultra-nationalist, homophobic group has sabotaged the screening of a queer film. When one of the protesters recognizes Cristi and threatens to disclose the secret about his sexuality, Cristi is faced with the danger of losing everything he has.
RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO!
Runtime: 79 mins; Language: English; Director: Ryan A. White and Alex Clausen; Country: USA, 2021; Genre: Documentary, Explicit, Gay; World Premiere
Legendary leatherman Jack Fritscher met Mark Hemry in 1979 at Harvey Milk’s birthday party and the two fell head over heels in love. When the AIDS epidemic swept through San Francisco, the couple left the city to begin a new venture: turning a rural ranch in Sonoma County into a safe-sex porn studio that offered viewers new sexual possibilities in an age of plague. Casting rugged, non-professional models to explore their unique erotic fantasies onscreen, the studio explored a wild array of queer kinks and helped champion sex-positivity in the porn industry. Raw and uncensored, the film is still an ode to love: the love of Jack and Mark, the love of life and that love is indeed love. Raw! Uncut! Video! is a love story….about fetish porn.
This film contains graphic sex that might be objectionable to some viewers.
The Teacher (El Maestro)
Runtime: 69 mins; Language: Spanish w/ English Subtitles; Director: Cristina Tamagnini and Julian Dabien; Country: Argentina, 2020; Genre: Drama, Gay; Includes the short film The Ephemeral; Director: Jorge Muriel; 20 mins
Natalio is a passionate and dedicated primary school teacher. He displays his concerns for his students both in and out of the classroom through his relationship with a troubled student, Miguel, whom he mentors and sponsors. His life revolves around his students and his mother, with whom Natalio lives. Natalio’s comfortable and ordered life is disrupted when his friend Juani moves to town and their relationship becomes the focal point of speculation and conjecture among the town’s inhabitants. The arrival of Juani and the fact he and Natalio are living together embodies the reality of living in a small Argentine town where everyone knows everyone else and their business. The protagonists’ relationship rips the thin veneer from the town exposing the town’s residents’ prejudices and hypocrisies.
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Runtime: 81 mins; Language: English; Director: Lisa Immordino Vreeland; Country: USA, 2020; Genre: Documentary, Gay, Historical; Southeast Premiere
This is a story of two of the greatest writers of the past century, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, who are examined in a dialogue that stretches from their early days of friendship to their final, unsparing critiques of each other. Giving life to the dialogue and a physicality to their relationship, Golden Globe and Emmy winner Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory, The Boys in the Band, Hollywood) is Capote and Emmy nominee Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, The Boys in the Band, American Horror Story) is Williams. Both are icons and yet anti-heroes. In an era that has become glutted with one-named celebrities, it’s time for a return to the originals. The two men themselves, as they lived their own life stories, embody the present more than the subjects they confronted in their works.