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Queer Cinema at the 60th AAFF

Published March 16th, 2022


The 60th AAFF's LGBTQ+ programming includes the 21st annual Out Night program featuring new experimental films from Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The in-person screening will be on Thursday, March 24 at 7:30pm, and the program will be available online that same evening at 11:59pm through March 31st. Immediately following, at 9:15pm, a special program of films curated by Sean Donovan, a doctoral candidate in Film, Television, & Media at the University of Michigan, celebrates the history of queer cinema at the AAFF. A Lantern Through Your Labyrinth: Out Histories at the Ann Arbor Film Festival is available in-person only.


Then, on Friday, March 25 at 7pm, a special program curated by Scott Northrup, the chair of Film, Photography, and Interdisciplinary Art + Design at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, will feature work by Sadie Benning. Their early videos are nearly mythical in stature, made more than 30 years ago with a toy camcorder in Sadie’s Milwaukee bedroom, at a time before they fully understood their nonbinary identity. They have not screened in the Ann Arbor Film Festival until now. Sadie Benning: Pixelvisions is available in-person only.



In person Thursday, March 24 at 7:30pm

Online March 24 at 11:59pm - March 31

The 21st celebration of queer cinema at AAFF spotlights contemporary experimental films with LGBTQ+ themes.

The Dog with Wings (7) by Sanjana Chandrasekhar

Compositions For Understanding Relationships David De La Fuente New York City, NY | 2021 | 6 | HD Video A Love Letter


Let My Body Speak

Madonna Adib Beirut; London; Edinburgh, Lebanon; UK | 2020 | 10 | HD Video An experimental short doc about sexual identity and body politics following years of socio-political repression in Damascus.


The Dog with Wings (7)

Sanjana Chandrasekhar London, UK | 2020 | 3 | HD Video A family of 4 attempt to uncover sensitive issues about each other, through solving a cryptic crossword puzzle.


Two Sons and a River of Blood

Amber Bemak, Angelo Madsen Minax Mexico City, Mexico | 2021 | 10 | HD Video A queer woman is pregnant. The self-made family unit of two dykes and a trans man imagine a kind of erotic magic that will allow for procreation based solely on desire. Together they enact a public sex ritual to symbolize their hopefulness for multiplicity, acknowledging their cyborg bodies as technological interventions.


Lilac Lips, Dutchess County

Tristan Scott-Behrends Red Hook, NY | 2021 | 4 | 4K Video A glorious fantastical modern retelling of Narcissus.


In Beauty it is Unfinished

Greko Sklavounos Miami, FL | 2021 | 16 | HD Video In suburban Miami, a Cuban immigrant longs for a lost memory. A voice creates a meditative portrait of two tropical landscapes-separated by 100 miles of ocean-and two men dancing at twilight; the distance of their bodies both measured and infinite.


Fireflies

Léo Bittencourt Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 2021 | 19 | 4K DCP The night side of a modernist icon. The fauna and flora of Roberto Burle Marx's gardens are inhabited by visitors to Flamengo's Park while the city of Rio de Janeiro falls asleep. Fireflies is a fabulated ethnography of the night at Flamengo's Park


My Parents Wanted Me To…

Cheryl Hess Philadelphia, PA | 2020 | 3 | 4K Video In this poetic micro documentary cabaret performer Dito Van Reigersberg aka Martha Graham Cracker talks about his parents' reaction to his drag persona and what it means to come from conduit stock.


Tank Fairy

Erich Rettstadt Taipei City, New Taipei City, Taiwan | 2021 | 10 | 4K DCP Once upon a time, the magical Tank Fairy delivered tanks of gas (with plenty of sass) to the home of young Jojo, a lonely dreamer in need of a glittery godmother…



 


Thursday, March 24 at 9:15pm | Curated by Sean Donovan **In person only

In celebration of the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s sixtieth year, this program remembers LGBTQ experimental cinema that played the festival throughout its run, from the early seventies to the recent past. The films return to us having graced Ann Arbor at different points in U.S. history, with the conditions of showing queer lives on screen variable and often met with heavy contestation. Welcomed back in this program, they speak a language of resistance and creation that epitomizes a bountiful heritage of queer artistry.

She Gone Rogue by Rhys Ernst

Women

Conni Beeson from the 12th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1974 USA | 1974 | 13 | 16mm Beeson satirically critiques the labels and clichés forced upon women using montage, ironic music, and carefully superimposed imagery. While only featuring a glimpse of sex between two women, the bisexual-identifying director’s film sketches a feminist utopia that playfully invites queer readings and resonance.


Ronnie Curt McDowell from the 12th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1974 USA | 1972 | 7 minutes | 16mm

This short documentary from McDowell profiles a male sex worker, who poses and discusses his life in the director’s own apartment. Given a beefcake glamor by the crisp black and white photography, Ronnie is equally an eccentric and engaging persona, part of a beguiling snapshot of San Francisco in the early 1970s.


No No Nooky TV

Barbara Hammer from the 26th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1988 USA | 1987 | 12 minutes | 16mm

Legendary filmmaker Barbara Hammer explores the messy collisions between queer women’s sexuality and technology. A flood of discordant electronic pixels and 1980s computing language, Hammer’s lively and droll cinematic voice contemplates the ongoing adaptations of intimacy.


Pump

Abigail Severance from the 38th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2000 USA | 2000 | 17 minutes | 16mm

Abigail Severance’s narrative short depicts a lesbian woman’s rocky love life with whimsical flair. Evoking the New Queer Cinema movement’s embrace of artifice and post-modern edge, Pump imagines a woman’s body mechanized and detachable, with emotions clumsily resistant to easy physical extraction.


She Gone Rogue

Rhys Ernst from the 51st Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2013 USA | 2012 | 22 minutes | digital

Darling (Zackary Drucker, who also co-wrote the film) embarks on a mystical journey of self negotiation and trans becoming in Rhys Ernst’s mystical kaleidoscope of a film. Reminiscent of the work of Maya Deren, and including appearances from trans icons Holly Woodlawn, Vaginal Davis, and Flawless Sabrina, She Gone Rogue is an odyssey of queer legend.


Last Address

Ira Sachs from the 49th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2011 USA | 2010 | 8 minutes | digital

Acclaimed director Ira Sachs (Love is Strange, Frankie) casts a solemn eye on the final homes of artists who died of AIDS-related illnesses. Contemplating loss and the physical remnants of beautiful lives, Last Address mourns and pays homage to a generation.


Song of the Godbody

James Broughton and Joel Singer from the 17th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1979 USA | 1977 | 11 minutes | 16mm

James Broughton’s naked body, filmed in extreme close-up, is rendered abstract and mysterious in an ode to passion and beauty inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman. Warm and earthy cello music accompanies the sensory-rich images, embracing bodies and human intimacy for the true wonders that they are.



 

Friday, March 25 at 7pm | Curated by Scott Northrup **In person only

Living Inside by Sadie Benning

These remarkable tapes were recorded with the Fisher Price PXL2000, which shot directly to audio cassettes in a flat, pixelated format known as Pixelvision. This might have been an underwhelming Christmas gift to the then 15-year-old who had been promised a camcorder, but it ultimately gave them agency to make sounds and images that are as tactile as they are emotionally and socially resonant. While Benning has made other complex and indelible works over the years, the time felt right to revisit these powerful, questioning recordings in light of the time that we’ve all spent inside these past few years, coping with who and where we are in this world.



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