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If you’ve ever felt like you were different…

The Handmaiden

Tré Ventour looks back at the second Q-Film weekender at Northampton Filmhouse…

Filmmaking is an act of protest – to make a film, to write a poem, to be an artist – is to exercise your human right to freedom of expression. It’s at events like these that art meets politics. And it’s these functions that truly show that Northampton has a fire in its belly.

I’m a straight, Black male and have been at the mercy of racist abuse on numerous occasions, and I continue to be discriminated against even to this day. The first time I was called “nigger” was when I was six and I am constantly under the gaze of racial profiling. I understand what it means to be attacked for being different. I have a place in my heart for oppressed peoples, so I understand the need for festivals like this.

I left Postcards in London on the Friday night feeling cheated. Following in the footsteps of recent films like mother! by Darren Aronofsky and Phantom Thread by Paul Thomas Anderson, it just reeked of pretentiousness. I couldn’t help but feel there was something deeper to this film that you would only understand “if you were in on it” rather than it being a simple case of style over substance.

Skate Kitchen

Skate Kitchen

Moving on, with 2019 round the corner this decade has been the best that’s ever been for LGBTQ+ rights. Their fight dominates discussion and makes headlines, with reports of attacks happening around the world. In 2018, India decriminalized gay sex, a law that was being practiced since colonial times.  The winds are changing but seldom does humanity and the powers that be move at the same pace, nor operate at same level of thinking. They are often at logger heads.

Things won’t change if you always follow the rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is the only way to change the rules. Protest is the only way – when Rosa Parks sat on the bus; when Colin Kaepernick took the knee; every anti-Trump rally; when Edward Snowden blew the whistle; when Julian Assange founded Wikileaks – the list goes on. Protest isn’t always marching. It comes in many forms.  

I’d like to live in a world where there isn’t a “gay scene” but just places where anyone and everyone can cohabitate in peace, whether you were in a same sex relationship or not – a place where you are judged on the content of your character and not your race, religion or sexual preference – a place where your worth as a person is not subject to your sexuality or skin colour.

Becks

Becks

On the Saturday, I saw Becks, a very charming film inspired by the true story of singer-songwriter Alyssa Robbins. It follows musician (Lena Hall) who moves back to her childhood home, living with her super Catholic mother. She (Becks) starts a relationship with the wife of former enemy. Becks is a low-key film. It’s not Love, Simon or Call Me By Your Name and few people will see it. However, if it does get to a cinema near you or if it eventually gets to Netflix or Amazon Prime, I implore you to check it out.

I also managed to see Skate Kitchen, the story of a lonely teenage girl in New York. When she befriends this group of skater girls, she is opened to a subculture, a world that is raw, and vibrant. She sees what friendship means, and how easily people can change. Jaden Smith co-stars.

Additionally, I saw The Handmaiden, Just Charlie and Love, Scott, as well as A Moment in the Reeds. The highlight of the festival (from what I saw) was The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook’s Korean epic set in 1930s Korea during Japanese occupation. A girl (Sookee) is taken on as handmaiden to an heiress (Hideko) on a large estate in rural Korea. That’s all I’ll say but it’s one hell of a film and currently on Amazon Prime. Hint hint!

Last year, there was: Prick up Your Ears, The Wound, Tangerine, Centre of My World and many others. This year is pale in comparison. Last year also had the addition of short films and additional Q+As with the minds behind some of the films. Most of the films at this year’s festival were released within the last two years. I’d like to have seen films from across time periods represented too. It gave audiences the chance to engage after the credits rolled.

Queer Cinema isn’t a genre. They are just stories with characters that happen to be part of that group. And if I took anything away from this weekend, it’s that being part of this group is only the tip of the iceberg. When you’ve got people in the world who are of colour, male and gay (for example), you’ve got a minorities within minorities and that’s scary.

 

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