Damn! Shoulda posted something before the Festival, since it ends tomorrow! Commenting now won't help you find the films and videos already screened, and it won't help the artists.
BUT. We were able to be part of the audience for James Wentzy's "Fight Back, Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP on Video." on thursday, which I did recommend in an earlier posting.
The ACT UP documentary was beautiful, but for all the evidence of the success of the activism it records, the reminders of how little has changed in the world in fifteen years is a horrible concomitance. Bush, war in the middle east, health care, drug company profiteering, oil, greed and stupidity. There were also the images of so many activists whose lives were destroyed at the height of their beauty and their powers. I would not have missed this screening for anything, but it was a melancholy, if not terrifying, experience, and one which an intelligent and generous world could have prevented.
The Middle Eastern and Muslim Lesbian and Gay Experience
This afternoon we were very lucky to be able to go back to Second Avenue for the collection, "Queer Diasporas: The Middle Eastern and Muslim Lesbian & Gay Experience," and we stayed for the discussion which followed.
There are few subjects whose human dimension could resonate more tragicly in the midst of today's international madness than that of the challenge of queer existence in the cultural milieus of the Middle East.
The films were apparently just about the only ones addressing this subject which are currently available, but their general excellence, as art and as record, certainly did not belie the narrow selection pool. Particularly wonderful were Tawfik Abu Wael's "Diary of a Male Whore," "Just a Woman" by Mitra Farahani and "Whistle," by the curator of the afternoon's program, Kouross Esmaeli. Finally, I was fascinated by the softly beautiful and amazingly gentle, familiar but still exotic veiled affection, both seen and heard, in Akram Zaatari's "How I Love You."
Oh yeah, a special rave for the audiences which we both saw and shared on each of the days we visited the Anthology Film Archives for the screenings, a very impressive bunch indeed, far more interesting, intelligent-looking, open-eyed and just plain beautiful than any group I have ever sighted at the somewhat less edgy, The New Festival, in spite of that institution's own virtues.