This is one of the best hidden gem films I’ve seen this year, let alone in this festival. Star Megan Stalter is the queen of irreverent, awkward, no-filter comedy, but what starts as a laugh-out-loud Gen Z/Millennial comedy about Stalter’s Cora as she clumsily and embarrassingly navigates life, career, and her open relationship with her long-distance girlfriend turns out to be a heart-wrenchingly poignant story of loss and love.
If you’re as big a fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” as I am, you will love this film. Cora is so effortlessly funny, but she’s also unlikable, mean, pathetic, and often completely in the wrong — and yet still deserving of love. The secondhand embarrassment borders on too much to handle at times, but if you can get through the cringe, you will be left with a raw look at womanhood, the messiness of grief, and the awkwardness of queer relationships.
September 26, 7pm
At first, watching this German film about a group of women and femmes haphazardly put together for a diversity panel hosted by white feminist group, “House of Womxn,” in a bid to avoid controversy can feel more like a TED Talk than a movie. Characters speak directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall to share their opinions about race, tokenism, gender, and class. However, intermingling with these moments of explicit analysis (which effectively contrasts with the sort of panels the film criticizes by having the characters speak frankly, angrily, and in unfiltered ways that would be deemed “inappropriate” in a conference setting) are moments of gripping reality. A Nazi threatens their safety. An estranged mother comforts her daughter. Kisha — played by Thelma Buabeng, the undeniable shining star of a stellar cast — fights off sobs to compose herself after being humiliated by one of the other women.
Funny, heartwarming, and inspiring, “Clashing Differences” effectively explores the complex differences among identities often lumped together, the fraudulence of performative diversity, and ultimately, what feminist solidarity actually looks like.
The Lost Boys (Le Paradis)
September 26, 8:30pm
“What did you do when you went off?
Just enjoyed it.”
If you’re wanting an action-packed thriller, look elsewhere. But if you want a stunning, tender slow burn, this is the film for you. Think “Call Me By Your Name” meets “Girl, Interrupted.” “The Lost Boys” is a queer film that is not so much about the queer experience as the carceral one. Joe is a young man in a French juvenile reform center, longing for freedom. But when William arrives, he longs for more. So much of this film is unspoken, and yet it is the quietest, stillest scenes that are the most impactful. While Joe and William’s relationship is tender and intimate, “The Lost Boys” is about much more than young love; it’s about the cages that bind us. The boys in the center all long to be out, yet they still experience moments of joy and connection inside. They silently watch fireworks. They paint each other’s faces. They scream in the rain. Despite the cold carceral reality of the film, “The Lost Boys” is full of deep warmth.
September 28, 9:20pm
“They see you fucking and think that you are just for fucking, and they don’t even know how you feel.”
Think “Boogie Nights,” but with more porn and more melancholia! Lalo tries to escape the monotony and mundanity of his life through sex — or more specifically, through porn. He starts out as a Twitter sex influencer, but progresses into the more traditional porn film industry. Longing to escape his loneliness, porn provides Lalo with an online community. But as sex becomes more performative to him and he faces emotional exploitation at the hands of the industry, his distance from others only increases.
“Pornomelancholia” is a devastating and moving portrait of the realities of sex work (as well as both sex and work in general), the exploitation of poverty, and the isolation of the digital age. While those wanting a fast-paced film (as well as those averse to penises) might want to look elsewhere, the slow, meandering scenes serve to punctuate Lalo’s pain in a way that can be unbearably sad to watch but worth every second.
Egghead and Twinkie
September 30, 2pm
Just as the title suggests, “Egghead and Twinkie” is quirky, adorable, and so much fun. Colorful and cute animations throughout the film — a nod to the titular Twinkie’s dreams of being an animator — bring this teen road trip rom-com to life. The film captures the awkwardness of teenage life, brought up to an 11 thanks to heteronormativity, as Twinkie and her best friend Egghead set off on a road trip adventure so she can meet her secret online girlfriend. Being a typical teenager, Twinkie acts stupid and selfish, but it doesn’t make you love and root for her any less.
While the plot can be predictable, as is the case with most rom-coms, this movie is perfect for tweens and young adults who are navigating the realities of queer coming of age. It’s sweet, goofy, and had me smiling the entire time.
1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture
September 30, 6pm
Whether you’re a Christian or not, you will probably find “1946” fascinating. The documentary explores the first inclusion of “homosexual” in the Bible in 1946, and why it hadn’t been included until then. “1946” not only dives into the archival research that found that “homosexual” came from a translation that combined the Greek “malakoi,” which means someone soft in a cowardly, indulgent way, and “arsenokoitai,” which is thought to mean men who exert abusive sexual power over others, specifically young boys. But it also delves into how this mistranslation was politically weaponized and how that had serious personal impacts.
The subject matter of “1946” is fascinating, but it’s the heart of the film that makes it great. One of the central opponents of the conception of this mistranslation is the lesbian director’s father. Though he never changes his mind and writes his own book about how homosexuality is a sin, director Rocky Roggio still loves him. They have a relationship and have difficult conversations with one another, highlighting the nuances of human relationships and reminding us that even though humans are fallible and make mistakes — some that change the course of history — we are all still capable of love.
The Mattachine Family
September 24, 8:15pm
There’s a tender story about chosen family and paving your own path in life somewhere in here, but unfortunately, it’s lost in unnatural dialogue and a haphazard narrative. The story follows a gay couple as they struggle to come to terms with parenthood after their foster son is returned to his birth mother after a year. But the movie completely disregards the writing rule of “show, don’t tell” — almost 75 percent of the film is exposition, including the first five minutes where the main character, Thomas, tells us about losing his foster son. Because we don’t even get a single scene with the couple and son, the emotional gravity of the situation falls flat throughout the film.
Interspersed seemingly randomly throughout the movie are monologues from Thomas only loosely related to what’s happening in the plot; it feels like the writer had the idea to write these flowery monologues about being gay before deciding to write a movie around them, haphazardly filling in the gaps. However, the movie is worth watching for the eye candy of Nico Tortorella alone.
September 29, 9pm
There are many things horror can be and still be fun to watch: goofy, corny, campy, or just straight up bad. The cardinal sin of horror, though, is to be boring. Unfortunately, “Birder” is guilty of this sin. A twist on the classic camp slasher at a naked gay campground sounds like it would be a romp, but unfortunately “Birder” was agonizingly slow and devoid of the tension and fear that make horror fun.
There were so many opportunities for this film to be over the top, campy, and gory, and I was very disappointed that the only vaguely gory scene of the film was imagined. If you’re looking for a queer horror film, like I was, I would look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking to ogle hot naked men fucking for an hour and a half, this is definitely the film for you. There is plenty of eye candy, penises, and even a cum shot to look forward to. To its credit, “Birder” did explore the interesting intersections of sex and violence, where the lines between domination and destruction blur. But as a horror fan, I found that it fell flat.
Katie Burkholder is the Atlanta-based editor of Georgia Voice.