BFI Flare 2016, part 1

Posted on: 31 Mar 2016 by Philip Wyn Jones

Philip Wyn Jones, Chapter's very own Uncle Travelling Matt, has had a great time at BFI Flare film festival. Here, he picks his highlights from the first few days.

Day 1

Seed Money (Michael Stabile, USA, 72min). This documentary is a portrait of Chuck Holmes who is considered to be a pioneer in the world of gay porn. He wasn’t the first but his films had higher production values than previous efforts, attractive locations and actors who were quite presentable in a blond pretty boy kind of way. Strangely, the clips shown in this film are in no way pornographic and what we learn about Holmes is rather superficial.

Day 2

The Gagosian Gallery near King’s Cross has an extensive exhibition featuring the paintings and drawings of Andy Warhol and the photographs of Richard Avedon. Warhol’s The Last Supper contains multiple images of Christ. His colourful clothes provide a contrast to their black and white surroundings. Nearby there hangs a portrait of Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola. Avedon shot several photos of Warhol and the members of his ‘Factory’. In one of them Paul Morrisey, the director of several Warhol films, has a protective arm around the shoulders of a naked Joe Dallesandro, Warhol’s favourite actor.

Women He’s Undressed (Gillian Armstrong, Australia, 99min - pictured). This superb documentary is a study of the life and work of Orry-Kelly, the triple Oscar winning costume designer who worked on nearly 300 films from the 1930s to the 1960s. Particular attention is given to Cary Grant. He, it is alleged, blocked the publication of Orry-Kelly’s autobiography, for personal reasons. A copy came to light not long ago and it has now been published. All will be revealed.

Nasty Baby (USA, 100min). This film was written, directed and co-produced by one of its leading actors, Sebastian Silva. Such an overall involvement can often be a bad sign. Initially this is a fairly interesting, though self-regarding, film about a young woman’s efforts to become pregnant, using the sperm of first one friend then another. There is also an attempt to stage a performance in a trendy art gallery, in which adults portray babies. Suddenly the film plunges into horror movie territory. At the end the audience sat in stunned silence.

Day 3 

Theo and Hugo (Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau), France, 90min). The young men of the title meet in a gay sex club, have sex, and tentatively take the first steps in what may well prove to be a long-lasting relationship. Shot in real time, the film begins with 20 minutes of real sex but without the detail that would make it pornographic. The young actors have a theatrical background and had no qualms about the sex scene.

Holding the Man (Neil Armfield, Australia, 128min). This deeply felt and memorable film was based on a novel that has won the United Nations Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction. Two schoolboys embark on a relationship that lasts for fifteen years, despite parental displeasure. They encounter some dreadful problems but are together at the heart-rending  climax. Both leading actors do a remarkable job in convincing us that they are initially teenagers and then grown men.

Philip Wyn Jones

To be continued...

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