Fantasia Film Festival 2021 – Alien On Stage

Over on Soda & Telepaths, I’ve been given credentials to cover the Fantasia Film Festival so I have a lot of films that I’ll be going through this month. The first one is Alien on Stage, a documentary about the weirdest stage play you’ve ever heard of that’s just so damn charming. I’ll be posting a ton of these reviews over the next month so please go read them so Fantasia will let us do this next year

9to5: The Story of A Movement (2021) – What A Way To Make A Doco

Released: 1st February
Seen: 22nd July

9to5 Info

The last year has not exactly been easy for anyone, but especially those in a regular nine to five job that found themselves suddenly unable to work and make the pittance they’d been making previously. Seems like finally this idea of barely getting by with a back breaking job has found a limit that can’t be ignored, since we now know that at any moment something can happen that will just force the planet to shut down for a year. What we’re seeing now, as things very slowly start approaching normal (APPROACHING, we are nowhere near normal again and stop acting like it) is workers have finally had enough of their low wages and poor treatment and are fighting back… a story that feels eerily similar to the one told in the documentary 9to5: The Story of A Movement

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Why Did You Kill Me? (2021) – Seemed Like A Good Idea

Released: 14th April
Seen: 31st May

Why Did You Kill Me? Info

The crime documentary is definitely having a major resurgence right now, in no small part thanks to Netflix who seems to churn out a new one every other week. This kind of makes sense for a streaming platform desperate for unique content because in theory these are simple things to make. Find a weird murder with a lot of twists and turns, have relatives and police officers describe the events as they remember it, maybe hire some actors to recreate certain elements, wait for the editor to put it all together and you have a movie. What sets them apart is how weird/interesting/disturbing the crime is and the general presentation of the information. So, with a film titled “Why Did You Kill Me?” basically begging for attention, does it deserve it?

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Bring Down The Walls (2020) – Another Brick In The Walls

Seen as part of the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival (Online Screening)

Bring Down The Walls Info

The Prison Industrial Complex is a topic that’s been touched on by many truly fascinating documentaries for a reason, it’s an obscenely messed up system that is often used capriciously against POC and queer people who are just trying to live their lives. In the US it’s particularly awful, they have the largest number of prisoners on the planet and it’s disproportionately people of colour (largely black and Latin men). 

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Cured (2020) – An Important Piece Of History

Seen as part of the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival (Online Screening)

Cured Info

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association took a vote to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. It was one of the most controversial votes that the board would ever have since homosexuality had been considered a mental illness since the first DSM was printed in 1952. With homosexuality being labelled a mental illness, it was able to be used as an excuse to deny employment or housing or basic rights to an entire class of people. This led to some of the most brutal torture ever done in the name of mental health, and a story that the film Cured tells brilliantly.

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P.S. Burn This Letter Please (2020) – And Watch This Film Please

Seen as part of the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival (Online Screening)

P.S. Burn This Letter Please Info

The history of gay culture is hard not well recorded, this is almost intentional. Thanks to the way that the community at large was treated by a legal system that revelled in arresting gay people for the crime of existing, keeping records wasn’t a high priority. If one were to have letters or photos that caught moments of queer culture, they were either burned by an angry parent determined to pretend that their departed child was straight, or it was destroyed upon request by the person who wrote the letter who would often add “P.S. Burn This letter please” at the end.

Thankfully, someone in the 1950s ignored this request and kept a hold of a series of letters and photos that described the underground 1950s drag and gay scene and now we have a record of this period of the era when the LGBT community was its most secretive.

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Strip Down, Rise Up (2021) – The Power Behind The Pole

Released: 5th February
Seen: 8th February

In 2019 the world was rocked by a single moment, that moment being in the movie Hustlers when Jennifer Lopez walked onto a stage while Criminal by Fiona Apple played and performed a pole dance that commanded the attention of anyone who saw it. The pure athleticism and power on display was magnetic and there is no doubt in my mind that this moment led to a whole bunch of women buying poles to fit into their workout routines. Pole Dancing as a workout routine has been around for a long time, and in the documentary Strip Down, Rise Up we get to see just how powerful and meaningful this dance can be for women.

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Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy (2021) – This Doc Is Wack

Released: 11th January
Seen: 12th January

In the 1980s, the decade of greed and excess, the drug of choice was cocaine. The white powder that filled the noses of everybody who was anybody was almost a status symbol, you can’t tell a story about the 80s without someone at some point saying “And then we did some coke” because it was that ubiquitous. Of course, like all things, there was inevitably a cheaper and more effective version available known as crack. Crack cocaine was instantly deemed the worst thing you could do, and this documentary points out the consequences of that.

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Steve McQueen: The Lost Movie (2021) – Fascinating Piece Of Forgotten Cinema

Released: 2nd January
Seen: 2nd January

In the 1960s, one of the coolest movie stars on the planet was Steve McQueen. Star of classics like The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, he was an icon who combined his love of acting with his other passion, F1 Racing. One of the things he was most known for was that love of driving, often doing his own stunt driving in any film he was permitted to. His love of driving was so great that he pushed to make one of the biggest racing movies of all time, a film that would become one of the most legendary unfinished films in history.

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The Minimalists: Less is Now (2021) – Minimally Good

Released: 1st January
Seen: 2nd January

When I think about minimalism, I tend to think about it in conjunction with the art world. My brain instantly goes to works by the minimalists like Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire, which is a 5-metre high painting of two dark blue lines with a bold red line right in the middle. Well, it turns out that minimalism is also a lifestyle movement now which basically means to have nothing in your home that you don’t have an actual use for (so bye-bye to that Funko Pop collection).

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