TLVFest is an international LGBT Film Festival held each June at the Tel Aviv CinemaTheque. The festival offers public screenings of films with no Israeli distribution, meetings with local as well as foreign filmmakers, panel discussions and special events. The impressive program includes many exciting films while aspiring to enrich and empower tolerance and pluralism in Israeli society. Here are sneak peeks of a few top picks recommended by FF2’s Tel Aviv-based contributor Eti Or.
Close Knit, directed by Japanese filmmaker Naoko Ogigami, may be over two hours long, but you don’t want it to end. The rhythm of the film is slow, and the shots are clean and mostly quiet. However, that doesn’t contradict the the stormy sea of turbulent feelings underneath. I felt like I was living in a different world, and for 2 hours life slowed down its pace. The Japanese manners, low voices when talking, beautifully made food on the table and neatly arranged apartments, all were a part of this experience.
As the titles implies, knitting in this film is a strong tool of expression. In one of my favorite scenes, Tomo ( a sensitive 11 year old girl ) is sitting with her uncle and his partner on a bench. They are waiting for a bus, and all of them are knitting. As we all do, I have my own story with family, and this one brought me to tears. Ogogami shows family relations at their best and their worse, but she shows they are always very close. As the Urban Dictionary puts it: “close-knit” (adjective) of a group of people united or bound together by strong relationships and common interests.” (ELO: 5/5)
Below Her Mouth
Made by women for women, Below Her Mouth has a list of creators behind the camera that make it very exciting, including Canadian director April Mullen. screenwriter Stephanie Fabrizi, and cinematographer Maya Bankovic. The story is simple. Boy takes girl away for the weekend, but then girl takes girl. Did I say simple?
Below Her Mouth might sound cheesy but it’s not. This semi-erotic film makes you fall in love and breaks your heart at the same time. Wonderful use of different light settings makes the atmosphere is electrifying. For example, at Dallas’s apartment, the strange lamps and light signs create a sleazy atmosphere, but when Jasmine enters, the light changes to create an entirely different feeling. Texture plays an equally important role. Through various close ups, we feel like we can almost touch everything. Skin, bed covers, expansive dresses, rough edges, we feel it all.B
By the end, I was very connected to Dallas and Jasmine. Each actress convinced me she was truly her character: candid and naive, doing her best to be happy, to love and be loved. (ELO: 5/5)
Directed by American artist/filmmaker Jennifer Reeder, Signature Move is very sweet and a lot of fun. The two Chicago girls — Alma and Zaynab — are easy to love and the story seems to tell itself effortlessly. Coming out to one’s family is clearly harder when the family is traditional/conservative one, but the film cheers for those bravely determined to be themselves and seek happiness where it is is truly to be found. I laughed many times and was enjoyed the film — especially scenes between mothers and daughters — so much! Signature Move is a highly recommended, “feel good movie.” (ELO: 4/5)
The Streets Are Ours is a documentary short from director/producer Michelle Fiordaliso, which tells the story of two great Pakistani women. The first is Sabeen Mahmud, who is interviewed by the second, Fawzia Mirza (an actress and a writer). Sabeen had created a special space for young people and others in the community to experience art and express themselves.Three months after Fawzia completed her interviews, Sabeen was murdered. Fawzia’s is one of many voices that live on and express Sabeen’s message of peace and love, trying to be heard in Pakistan, despite all controversies in the society. (ELO: 4/5)
The Wound, directed by South African filmmaker John Trengove, is a hard film to watch. It is the story of a young man in South Africa named Xolani who comes back year after year to initiate young boys in the village. Then Kwanda, a rich city boy, discovers Xolani’s secret: his love affair with another guide. There are no women on screen. This film is about men, masculinity and hard decisions. Each character has depth and is struggling with difficulties. Rough scenes — scenes that hurt your stomach — happen in the most beautiful of places, surrounded by an amazing view of nature at its best. Forests, waterfalls, a great mountain, all add more power and reinforce the impression on the viewer. (ELO: 4.5/5)
© Eti Or (6/5/17) FF2 Media
Still photos from Signature Move, Close Knit, and The Wound.
Featured photo at the top by Eti Or.