Which is not all about the Film Festival, but mostly is…
One thing that interested me in the other bits of my week was reading a novel called Edelweiss Pirates and discovering a whole lost world that none of us know much about. Much has understandably been made of the White Rose group – young middle-class Catholics who bore witness against the Nazis by leafletting in the sure and certain knowledge that they would probably be killed for it, and were. It is not to dis that very fine and noble group and their protest to remember that there was another youth culture resistance to the Nazis – a wiki article about the Edelweiss pirates here and a good article on films about both them and the White Rose here.
The Pirates were essentially juvenile delinquents, many of them orphaned children of leftwingers murdered by the regime, whose attempts to create an alternative apolitical youth movement to the Hitler Youth led them into progressively more violent clashes with the regime and the Hitler Youth. The Pirates armed themselves, painted graffiti against the regime, made up punkish parodies of Hitler Youth songs and went around singing them, and beat the crap out of Fascists whenever the odds were reasonably on their side. They also seem to have hidden people. In the industrial heartland of Nazi Germany, they were enough of a nuisance that the crackdown took the shape of public executions, in the street, of teenagers.
They were an anti-authoritarian stroppy mob and the Allies and Soviets didn’t like them much either – the ones who survived the Nazis were mostly slung into jail for very long terms. Perhaps, though, their time to be properly remembered has come – they were after all a mass movement of youth against the Nazis who took up arms.
And this raises yet again the question of Ratzinger and his choices as a teenager – he joined the Hitler Youth in fear of his life. Other people did not and chose to fight and die.
He is a man who always favoured the status quo and keeping his head down when a correct policy would have been to take risks – he became an accessory after the fact to child rape for the same reasons, not rocking the boat.
He’s not going to resign – he is free of the possibility of extradition and prosecution for as long as he remains head of a sovereign state – but he is a disgrace, even to the Catholic Church.
I object to paying for his visit here. Let those Catholics who want this criminal here pay for it.
Meanwhile at the film festival…
Regretters was moving partly because the director did not try and impose a narrative and let the two participants interview each other about their very different histories. Mikkele became Micaela and regretted it – he now says he knew instantly he had been wrong, but clearly took eight years over it. Orlando transitioned in a period when Sweden and this country were still prosecuting people who had gay sex – she was happily married for 11 years before her husband found out and tried to kill her, and transitioned back in the aftermath of that. These days Orlando is an androgynous fey being who identifies as a male queen but is quite remarkably gender queer.
People have different journeys and identify differently – these two were chalk and cheese, not least in the way that they retain a capacity for happiness in whichever identity. Absolute respect for people’s choices does not, though, indicate any scepticism on my part about other choices, not least my own.
I know what was right for me, just as they knew what was right for them, both when they transitioned and when they transitioned back.
Latecomers the short that was on with it, was equally moving about the choices of people who transition or come out late in life. And delaying transition is as much as source of regret as transitioning.
Sex My Life was interesting in its portrayal of life in Iran where transitioning is legal, but not especially accepted, and homosexuality carries a potential death penalty. One of the things that became very clear was that some of the people who transition do so out of fear of consequences if they do not, but quite a lot are trans in a Western sense.
Transitioning in Iran means losing a lot of rights and it was interesting to watch several of the trans women think seriously about going to live abroad after transition – not crazy then…It was a depressing film simply because they were caught in the worst of all possible worlds, with dementedly self-righteous parents beating them up, locking them in their rooms and bribing the police to arrest them even though the law is on their side, and authorities with a weird take on sex and gender and its concsequences for citizenship.
Interestingly, some of the subjects of the film were absolutely not prepared to have surgery and transition legally, and wanted to retain male legal privilege even if it meant that they were executed for being gay. People make interesting choices even when the range of those choices is very limited – significantly, the one who was clearest about remaining legally male was the one I would have thought of as a cross-dressing camp gay man rather than a transexual – but perhaps that is me reading identity across cultural gaps when I am not entitled to.
A good and depressing film.
I’m not going to discuss all the shorts in Pic’n’Mix and Trans Love because of space and time, so: 25 random things I did during my big fat lesbian depression was well-observed and hilarious and what it said on the tin. Chris Russo, who made it, is one to watch, as is Zsa Zsa Gershick, whose Door Prize was a nice little comedy about random kindness and acquaintance. And toilet queues.Christine CHew’s Falling for Caroline was a neat little rom-com about klutziness and video stores; Mike Wyeld did a nice film interview with sculptor Maggie Hambling. Of the Trans Loveshorts I particularly liked Changing House a short documentary about Rusty and Chelsea who for years opened their house to homeless trans people and have finally burned out – as I did after only a year or so – they also looked after Sylvia Riveira in her last years, and there was some moving footage of that. Calpernia Adams and Andrea James had a very cute little rom-com about de-transing your flat so that you can go stealth, and how it may not be a good idea…
Yesterday, I saw two of my favourite films in the festival.
I’ve killed my mother is impressive and not just because the writer, director, star Xavier Dolan was only 20 when he made it. A teenage son and single mother are locked in eternal conflict and both are wonderfully observed and totally unreasonable. She finds out he is gay when his boyfriend’s mother casually mentions it at the tanning salon and hilarity, angst and fantasies of smashed crockery ensure. It is a wonderful sardonic film with staggering central performances – at one point she denounces the headmaster of her son’s boarding school with the venom she normally reserves for her son and the audience cheered her on with wild passion. I love that fim.
I also loved Mississippi Damned Tina Aubry’s very long, very brave, very lyrical autobiographical film about how families fuck each other up with drink and gambling and addiction and abuse, and how sometimes the best they can do for you is help you get the hell out! In summary, the endless list of awful things that happen to Carrie, her parents and her extended family could be mocked – in the context of this passionate and beautifully shot film there is a ghastly inevitability to it. People lose jobs, become obsessed with people who don’t love them, get forced to give blow jobs in order to get the money to go for a college athletic tryout, are battered wives, have no money, kill their husbands, get cancer, have no money, rape their young cousin, play the piano beautifully. It’s a wonderful film and at once depressing and life-affirming in a terribly American way – it’s rich and ripe and a bit hammy and I loved it.
Dolan and Aubry – remember those names…