The Way He Looks
The Way He Looks
Somehow I missed the reception. Or there was none. Or the word reception here just meant show up early to do what you’d do afterwards anyways: buy drinks to keep mingling. So I was only mildly lubricated during the award show. That didn’t bode well for my mental engagement level, so I’ll spare you the details of the pageantry and just talk about the films.
As my colleagues said about the films of this year's Berlinale before, the Teddy winners themselves were a bit of a mixed bag. The Teddy short went to “Mondial 2010”, a film, much like most shorts, I passed up. I’m sure it was lovely.
The bag mixing starts with the best documentary/essay film: Der Kreis. A half talking head, half re-enacted portrayal of a gay magazine office in Switzerland in the 1950s that eventually led to queer insurrection. To the point and clear, it obviously felt its subject matter was worth glorification through its (half-doco approach notwithstanding) rather conventional filmmaking methods. No need to confuse the audience: fight the power=good. The film really is excellent, and an important story is told, but next to Castanha, I’m not sure where the juries head was at.
Stalwart Bruce LaBruce got a coup with the special jury award prize for Pierrot Lunaire. Despite protestations from some colleagues, I thought this was the most contemporary of any films up there for a Teddy I saw, with the narrative mined from Arnold Schoenberg’s 1912 opera and a true crime FTM transgender murder case from 1970s Toronto. LaBruce continues to champion society’s rebels through both narrative and ground-breaking construction of film. Compared to the Teddy feature winner, it was absolutely 2014, possibly beyond.
Which is why can’t stand understand why the tenderly 1985-capable film The Way He Looks won the best feature over 52 Tuesdays. Both are feats of somewhat conventional filmmaking (technically speaking) although 52 Tuesdays has some innovatory flashes. The former is sweet and tender and a popcorn flick indeed, but I’m not sure that a film in which two teenage boys fall in love in modern day middle-class settings (but, wait, one is blind!), should be the forerunner for contemporary queer cinema. I think we’ve somewhat moved on.
I wrote a few years back on whether queer cinema or the Teddy specifically is losing its roar. Looking at LaBruce’s win here, that’s obviously not the case. But if this year's best feature represents the Teddy's future, you might excuse us if we cuddle up to something with more bite.