When Ramin stowed away on a Turkish cargo ship, he never expected to wind up in Veracruz, Mexico where he must suddenly cope with language and social barriers. While he performs grueling manual labor to afford a clearly unwise return voyage to Turkey, he begins to discover a freer life than he experienced as a gay man under a harshly repressive Iranian government. He coaxes Spanish lessons from Leti (FLOR EDUARDA GURROLA), the heartbroken woman who runs the small hotel where he lives, and finds himself drawn toward Guillermo (Luis Alberti, EINSTEIN IN GUANAJUATO), a warm, but inscrutable construction worker with a body full of bullet scars.
Beautifully shot by Bani Khoshnoudi, FIREFLIES won the top prize in the Ibero-American Competition at the 2019 Miami Film Festival. A sensitive portrait of a gay man lost in exile, Fireflies shows us a world where borders can’t always be crossed, and our scars tell our stories.
Darryl Stephens and Scott Bailey star as lovers that, on the surface, do not belong together in this dramatic romance story directed by Doug Spearman. FROM ZERO TO I LOVE YOU, as the title of the film indicates, describes the progression of two men’s relationship with one another. While Pete Logsdon is an out gay man whose commitment phobic ways continually lead him to pursue married men to whom he has no emotional attachment, Jack Dickinson is a married father of two with closeted, same-sex desires.
Is Jack just another tryst in Pete’s long line of obligation-free encounters? Is Jack’s interest in Pete as purely sexual and sans feelings as he likes to believe? Each of these men will have to confront their own insecurities, longings, and the secrets they withhold from their loved ones as the bond between the two lovers develops into something more serious than either of them had expected.
Tina, played by a sensitive and engaging Carlie Guevara, lives between worlds as an undocumented immigrant and trans woman in New York City. Tina lives with her charming grandmother Eliana whose dreams of returning to Mexico clash with Tina’s desire to fit in and make it big in the “Big Apple.” As a cab driver Tina struggles to make a living for herself and her grandmother with the hope of someday saving enough to begin the process of medical transitioning. While the clash of worlds and identities is a constant point of tension between Tina and her abuela, she finds comfort and a new found passion for activism with a group of trans friends.
Director Flavio Alves’ first feature film is bolstered by a rich supporting cast including longtime Hollywood veterans like Michael Madsen (RESERVOIR DOGS,KILL BILL) and Ed Asner (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, ROOTS). THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND is a thoughtful and unflinching look at the complications facing the LGBTQ Latinx and undocumented communities who struggle to navigate their identity in a world that seeks to negate their right to exist. Alves’ debut well captures the fear, uncertainty, and joy that Tina finds in the process of fully embracing her identity.
This film contains graphic depictions of transphobic violence.
From director Leon Le, SONG LANG is a beautifully imagined portrait of the noir underworld of 1980’s Saigon with a rich color palette and tightly woven script. Linh Phung (Isaac) is the star of a local cải lương (Vietnamese opera) company who is relentlessly hounded by the debt collectors of a ruthless loan shark named Thunderbolt after the troupe falls behind on their payments. The brooding Dung (Lien Binh Phat) is tasked with extracting the money from Linh, yet, as their paths cross. an unexpected relationship develops between the two.
Le’s film provides a powerful look at questions of masculinity, cultural norms, and desire in post-war Vietnam. The cải lương performance interludes are a beautiful look at the folk culture of Vietnam, which is the binding force between Linh and Dung. Le and Lien Binh Phat have received numerous film awards across Asia for this unique film.