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Sunny Bunny, the oldest and biggest LGBTQ-themed cultural event in the Ukraine, founded in 2001 as the queer section of the Kyiv International Film Festival is wrapping up this Saturday for the 47th time. Here is a selection of some of the films that ran during the festival.
Tom of Finland
70 years ago, Touko Laaksonen returns home hardened by war. There, he’s a hero for his bravery, and a criminal for liking men. Caught cruising in a forest, he’s not only facing shame if outed, but he could be stripped of his rank and imprisoned. Finland is not a welcoming place for a gay man in the 1940s, but he never once considers pretending to be someone else — for his family or the society. Instead, Touko finds inspiration drawing hypersexual muscular men. Laaksonen spawnsa cult following of “Tom’s Men” as he becomes Tom of Finland (dir. Dome Karukoski).
A Moment in the Reeds
Modern Finland is a totally different place — but still not a comfortable place for Leevi in A Moment in the Reeds (dir. Mikko Makela). He’s chosen to emigrate to Paris, running away from his conservative homeland. Returning home to spend summer vacation with his estranged father, he connects deeply with Tareeq, an immigrant from war-torn Syria, to whom Finland as much a haven as France is to Leevi.
Is running away from home a necessary step in finding yourself? The protagonist of Reinventing Marvin (dir. Anne Fontaine) attempts to find the answer. With help from none other than Isabelle Huppert, he’s trying to deal with his family who haven’t accepted him for who he is.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
But while some parents are at least trying, other parents will just send you off to conversion therapy to “straighten” you out. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (dir. Desiree Akhavan) tells the story of Cameron, a high-schooler, who is having a hard time sorting out what’s going on around her when her parents sent her to a conversion camp.
A Fantastic Woman
Finding your identity — and the power in it — is what moves Marina, A Fantastic Woman (dir. Sebastian Lelio), in a fight with the family of her deceased boyfriend. They can’t handle the fact she was born in the wrong body and won’t let her grieve.
My Days of Mercy
Lucy in My Days of Mercy (dir. Tali Shalom-Ezer) is also fighting, but for her father’s life. He’s about to be executed for a murder he may not have committed. Things get complicated when she feels chemistry with Mercy, who wants to see Lucy’s father dead.
Seeing your loved ones in a different light is also the theme of The Cakemaker (dir. Ofir Raul Graizer). It follows Thomas, a German, on a trip to Israel to find the wife of his lover who passed away in a tragic accident. Like quite a few films in the selection, it shows the struggle between of tradition and unavoidable change.
Retablo (dir. Alvaro Delgado Aparicio) is a prominent example of such opposition: set in rural Peru, it tells a story of Segundo, a 14-year-old who discovers something shocking about his father.
Hard Paint (dir. Filipe Matzembacher, Marcio Reolon) is set in a similarly hostile environment. Pedro is an anti-social young man who earns money with online performances where he covers his naked body in fluorescent paint. But he has to come out of his shell when a competitor threatens his income and private way of life.
Another Brazilian entry is Tranny Fag (dir. Claudia Priscilla, Kiko Goifman), a fabulous documentary about Linn da Quebrada, a black trans hip-hop star who is happy to give the audience a lesson on how to subvert the patriarchal alpha-male world and show how ridiculously obsolete it is.
In The Heiresses (dir. Marcelo Martinessi), when Chiquita is sent to prison, and leaves Chela alone, unprepared for independent life. Class differences bubble up to the surface here, but so does desire and attraction when Chela meets the younger (and beautiful) Angy.
Social issues, gender identity and transformation are but a few themes fit into one hour in the complex and gorgeous Obscuro Barroco (dir. Evangelia Kranioti). This film immerses you into the permanent carnival of Rio de Janeiro, a city of dreams and nightmares — seen through the eyes of Luana Muniz, a late icon and activist for transgender rights.
Rounding out our selections is Nighthawks (dir. Ron Peck, assisted by Paul Hallam), a quasi-documentary 1978 portrait of a Londoner living the double life of a geography teacher by day and a regular at gay bars at night. He’s forced to come out in one of the most fascinating scenes in queer cinema of that period. This film ran with a selection of 11 queer shorts showing a diversity of new voices in Queerment Quebec — presented by the Montreal LGBT Film Festival IMAGE+NATION.