Sunday, February 25, 2024

LGBT+ College Conference Film Fest: Reviews of the films

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Featured Photo by Larry Rincon

Story by Larry Rincon

Numerous events have been part of the the LGBT+ College Conference at Middle Tennessee State University with the overarching goal of “All Identities Pulling Together.” On Thursday afternoon, Allie Sultan, assistant chair of the media arts program, hosted the LGBT+ Film Fest.

Six films and three web series episodes were shown depicting different stories and
aspects of issues related to the LGBTQ+ community. Some of them were artistic stories starring queer characters.


The first film shown was directed by independent, freelance filmmaker, Nick Girard. His film
“The Queen — a short film about transformation” follows a drag queen in Portland, Oregon and
the process of preparing for a drag show.

Screen grab of “The Queen – a short film about Transformation”. (Photo by Larry Rincon).

The actual dialogue of the film, however, goes beyond just addressing drag life. Jordan, the
subject of the film, commentates on the way queer people are treated as well as the
misconceptions that they come up with about people who do drag.

Three different episodes of a web series called “F to 7th” were shown following the main
character, Ingrid, in different situations. One audience member, Beverly Mangan, enjoyed the
three episodes for their comedy and found that what they depicted was fun and enjoyable.

Screengrab from episode “Deny, Deny, Deny” of “F to 7th.” (Photo by Larry Rincon).

“They depicted a comfortably awkward perspective of what it is to be a member of
the LGBT+ community,” Mangan said.

The second short film shown was titled “Shuttlecock,” directed by Tommy Gillard. What starts off
as badminton games meant to raise money for charity slowly spirals into a man’s obsession with
another member when his masculinity comes into question.

Screen grab and ending scene of “Shuttlecock.” (Photo by Larry Rincon).

There was not much about queer representation at face value, but there are some queer undertones especially when the judgment of force and technique gets brought up. It was different from the rest of the films shown; It explored considering societal views on masculinity versus flamboyance and femininity.

The shortest short film, “Break Free — Ruby Rose,” was directed by Phillip Lopez. It didn’t have dialogue, so the story was told through the music and the visuals. The film follows an individual breaking into the way they feel most comfortable.

The journey of cutting off hair, changing wardrobes and aligning the mind and body is exemplified in the short five minutes. There’s a lot to read into the film about gender roles and
identities that deviate from what is considered the norm.

The short film that I could connect the most to was “Still Me” by Jay Beckerleg and Sam Jelley. It
centered around a non-binary individual named Bailey who grew frustrated and felt invalidated
after coming out to their peers. It isn’t until they meet a student named Zach that they finally find
a place where they are accepted for themselves.

Screen grab from “Still Me.” Bailey is accepted for who they are. (Photo by Larry Rincon).

As someone who has lived through that exact story, I felt a strong personal connection to this
story. Another member of the audience, Faith Ziegler, stated that she hoped to see more stories explored in the future film fests with asexual protagonists or even pansexual protagonists.

The second to last film shown was visually one of the most beautiful. “Escaping the Fragile
Planet: Boy Meets Boy at the End of the World” by Thanasis Tsimpinis was a surreal experience
of the way humans connect with each other at the end of the world.


The cinematography was perhaps the best out of all the films because of the vibrancy of the
colors and the dream-like haze it gave off. The story was also bitter-sweet, and the ending was
ambiguous leaving it up to the viewers to decide whether or not the characters died.


The very last film shown lasted almost half an hour, but the story “Tsuyako” portrayed was
impactful and meaningful. Tsuyako follows a Japanese factory worker and mother named
Tsuyako in postwar Japan as she struggles to choose between her responsibilities tied to her
family or her freedom and love. The story unfortunately had a sad ending with Tsuyako choosing
her duties over the life she wanted, but it comes full circle as Tsuyako’s granddaughter visits
Yoshie, the woman Tsuyako loved.


Sultan is friends with the director Mitsuyo Miyazaki, also known as Hikari, and let the
audience know that the story of Tsuyako was based on Hikari’s own grandmother. She
discovered her grandmother was lesbian and created this short film as a way to complete her
grandmother’s journey.

At the end of the film fest, MT Lambda surprised Sultan. They awarded her for her contributions towards the organization and everything else she has contributed to amplify queer voices.


Audience member, Sarah Abuqudaira, summed up the festival perfectly. She stated,” [The films]
transcend the ideas they show and portray them in a way that anyone can enjoy. Some films
were catered towards younger audiences and some were catered towards adult audiences. They were very diverse with many emotions, representations, and they represented different
cultures.”


If anyone missed this year’s LGBT+ College Conference, you should consider attending in the
coming years.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com. For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

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