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Queer Content at the Israel Film Festival
Articles - Entertainment
Written by editor   
Sunday, 28 July 2013 00:05

IFF2013 Melting Away
[Click for full version]

The Israel Film Festival, which has been consistently LGBT-friendly, this year brings us Melting Away (2011), the moving story of a transgender woman and her family. Synopsis below:

The discovery of Assaf secretly being a cross-dresser is too much for Shlomo and so he banishes his child from home. Years later, Gallia hires a private detective to find their son, as Shlomo is dying from cancer. The detective finds Anna, the beautiful transgendered singer at a Tel Aviv nightclub. This heartfelt drama of family, love, and understanding was conceived in reaction to the deadly attack on the Tel Aviv LGBT Youth Centre and shock of parents refusing to visit their injured children.

The movie has been rated R21 (why am I not surprised?) and is in Hebrew with English subtitles. You can buy tickets from the Cathay website or find out more details about the film festival in their programme booklet.

Another queer film coming from Israel appears to be Yossi (2013), the story of a gay man finding love in an unexpected place. The IFF Facebook page appears to have a contest for tickets to the advance screening that ends on Sunday, if anyone's interested.

 
What's the next queer film to hit our shores?
Articles - Entertainment
Thursday, 16 August 2012 00:01

The Secrets


An oldie but goodie, apparently.

Here's a shoutout to the Israel Film Festival (in its 20th iteration) which again is bringing us queer content. What's up: The Secrets, a 2007 film about the journey of two Jewish women to find themselves.

The film comes recommended by the Israel Embassy, as one that would be of interest to this demographic. We haven't seen it yet, so can't comment on that either way, but The Secrets is highly lauded on the internet, as above all a film about strong women, with The New York Times calling it a "feminist cri de coeur" -- "cry from the heart".

 
Looking for a Good Lesbian Movie (or Two)?
Articles - Entertainment
Thursday, 29 September 2011 22:51

This post is by guest writer Dee Mason, who tells us exactly which LBT movies she would recommend to queer women. Guest posts are the personal views of the writers and may not represent those of Sayoni. Please also note that there will be light spoilers for these movies.



There is something comforting about watching a good lesbian movie. Some of them are weakly plotted and badly acted, but there have been some in recent years which not only have good scriptwriting, but were well-acted and -directed too. In the reviews below I have given a short guide to the plot and some of my own feelings about the movies. Obviously they are my own opinions, but I can’t say I don't hope to influence you into watching them!

 

The Kids Are Alright (2010)

les-movies-kidsalright

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 02:57
 
Review: Taking Woodstock
Articles - Entertainment
Thursday, 15 October 2009 00:00



The original Woodstock Festival took place in 1969 and was later known as a pivotal cultural moment in history. It originated as a corporate venture that brought great artists together in front of a 500,000-strong audience. In 1970, a documentary was made about the music festival. Elliot Tiber, the man who offered the use of his family property to the festival’s organisers, published his story in 2007. Subsequently, Ang Lee (of Brokeback Mountain fame) based his movie Taking Woodstock on Elliot’s memoir.


This, of course, I learnt from Wikipedia. Yes, I am unfortunately quite bereft of music history knowledge and shockingly clueless about the hippie subculture. Fortunately for me, I found the movie quite accessible, and I think that Ang Lee was throwing the net wide, allowing those of us who may not know their pop culture history to have their heartstrings tugged by a simple, human story.


Taking Woodstock is, at heart, the timeless, tireless tale of a young man’s journey. While putting together the music festival, Elliot also finds freedom and courage, and we gradually get to know him, his family, the circumstances surrounding his life and what it could have been like for a gay man growing up in those times. Demetri Martin gives a believable, heartfelt performance as Elliot, so I was surprised to hear that he is mostly known for being a comedian. The entire cast delivers a stellar show, from the excellent Liev Schreiber as the crossdressing Vilma to Elliot’s inimitable parents. The storytelling is fairly well-paced, with a good mix of comedy and drama that keep the slower scenes at the beginning interesting.


With so much going on in the foreground, the actual music of Woodstock becomes mere backdrop. Ang Lee’s Woodstock is far from a documentary about the times, or even about Woodstock itself. I would prefer to call it a portrait of the emotional life of the times. The movie brings home the peripherals of Woodstock, personalising the environment and culture without trying to show what many would call the heart of it – the music. For me it was like a sepia photograph, giving a layer of reality to the sixties without taking the tint of nostalgia from it. This was perhaps the filmmaker’s recognition that no one could capture the grandeur of such a cultural icon.


As a portrait, I thought it was very successful. I caught a glimpse of a bohemian laissez-faire, an idealistic attitude to life that wasn’t afraid of being spiritual, trying new things, being different or just being. The movie shows us the beauty of an era that was ripening into a particular brand of individualism and an increased acceptance of LGBT people in the world.


Taking Woodstock clearly celebrates the hippie culture, although it does raise some possibly problematic issues such as drug and alcohol use. LGBT viewers may also be able to relate to Elliot’s closeted situation and the tug between familial obligation and being true to yourself.

I enjoyed the movie a lot for what it is, a sweet and funny confection that opens up a world of ambiguous promise.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 September 2011 21:49
 
Review: “The Abomination of the Blue Hibiscus” by Ovidia Yu
Articles - Entertainment
Written by Indu   
Sunday, 11 October 2009 00:00

The Abomination of the Blue Hibiscus is a short story by Ovidia Yu, published in the Year’s Best Lesbian Fiction 2008 edited by Fran Walker. She requested that I review the story, whether or not I read the entire book.

Hibiscus is a short, heart-warming story about a lesbian woman and her partner, at her mother’s funeral. Clearly Ovidia seems to love this theme – story actually reminded me quite a bit of the story she wrote a couple of years ago and read at our Indignation event, Tall Tales and Short Stories, called Pierced Years. Personally, I much preferred Pierced Years to Hibiscus, though both are valuable contributions to the corpus of Singaporean lesbian literature.

But what makes this story different is the closetted homophobic maiden aunt character that is more central than the couple themselves. The character was quite obviously inspired by a “well-loved” persona, and quite hateable in her portrayal, but with a resigned acceptance of her place in the family. Having said that, I found the characterisation too much of a caricature, and perhaps it could have been toned down a little, made more subtle. I also much loved the way blue hibiscuses were used in the story.

Hibiscus stands out for its layered family relationships laced with shades of acceptance.  While not Ovidia’s best work, the story is readable. I had a chance to read some of the other stories at random (but not the entire book), and I can say the stories are not too bad – some of them are cliche and sometimes centres too much on the lesbian identity, but as a collection, it is worth having on your bookshelf.

Year’s Best Lesbian Fiction 2008 is available at Books Actually.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 March 2010 09:44
 
Review 2: No More Daddy’s Little Girl
Articles - Entertainment
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Thursday, 01 October 2009 00:00

Note from the editors: In the recent weeks, we published a review of the book No More Daddy’s Little Girl by Karen Lee. That review generated much heated discussion by people on both sides of the camp about the merits of the book. In order to give our readers both sides of the story, we are a publishing a reader-submitted review offering a different view from the previous. Neither reviews are indicative of Sayoni’s official view in any way.

This guest writer goes by the name of Jane Jones.

Two weeks ago, a friend handed me No More Daddy’s Little Girl, after we had casually discussed the one official review posted so far and some negative opinions by our mutual acquaintances. I had not been inclined to read the book when I first heard of it, as I had the notion that autobiographies ought only to be written by people of special interest or distinction, with something important to address and educate others about. Coming out stories are a dime a dozen, and ordinary people tend not to write an entire autobiography on this selling point alone. Curiosity began to replace vague disinterest. Are the review and opinions accurate or justified? It was only fair that I read the book and decide for myself. And so over the weekend, I did.

From reading the blurb and proud declaration that it is the first local lesbian autobio, I had expected this book to illuminate me on how Karen discovered herself vis-a-vis her sexuality and came out in the end (no pun intended) triumphant over the obstacles in her way to lead a life with love and acceptance from her faith, family, friends and herself. I expected that most of the life experiences recounted in her book would be in respect of this, her discovery and journey of being lesbian. Unfortunately, I have to conclude that the book failed to deliver on these expectations.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:25
 
Review: No More Daddy’s Little Girl
Articles - Entertainment
Written by AnJ   
Thursday, 03 September 2009 00:00

“No More Daddy’s Little Girl”- a book by Karen Lee.

Before i read Karen Lee’s book, i received plenty of comments pertaining to it.
Most of them were negative, criticizing aspects from grammar and style of writing to content.

I bought the book anyway, complete with her autograph on it. You never know till you read it, i thought to myself. Besides, i believe in supporting the first Singaporean lesbian autobiography. In the same train of thought [to support local queer writings], i bought the Chinese publication “tong lei” by OC. I finished the book in a couple of days, snatching moments before bedtime and during dinnertime.

The first half of the book touched on her early crushes, with a heavy emphasis on her involvement in Girls’ Brigade. Parts of the book provided information in somewhat random chunks. Sometimes the pieces were too brief to comprehend in detail. A characteristic, i surmised, as a result of length constraint. After sharing childhood memories, the story segued into her stints in Australia, Sweden and eventually Canada.

The greatest criticism was probably on content. Someone commented that the book is screwed up because Karen implied that she is gay as a result of being molested in her childhood. Indeed, in her coming out email to her parents, the uncanny pairing of the coming out declaration with the molest incident hinted at perceived causality. The person went on to say that the book gives fundies ammunition to target the lesbian population: you are gay because you are screwed up in your childhood. It was also pointed out that the book reflects badly on romantic relationships in the community. You can imagine a fundie going “look at how many flings Karen had! This is evidence that lesbian relationships are unstable.”

“She’s probably a screwed up lesbian,” was the concluding remark.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:24
 
Insider’s Account: Dinah Shore 2009
Articles - Entertainment
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Saturday, 06 June 2009 00:00

Editor’s Foreward: For the readers of our blog, Dinah Shore is an annual one-week long party for queer women, held in Palm Springs. One of our members, pink_is_in, recently decided to spend a weekend in Dinah Shore with her girlfriend, and here’s an account of her experience being surrounded by thousands of queer women bent on partying it up. Who said gay men were the only ones who knew how to party? Also, please note the personal views expressed herein are the author’s alone, and Sayoni in no way endorses or supports her views.

Vagina Heaven

Dinah Shore 2009 (Organised by Club Skirt) or I would rather call it Vagina Heaven was held at Palm Spring, California, USA. It's basically 5 days full of parties, concerts and babes. To tell you the truth, it sounds to good to be true. Its in the middle of nowhere (well, palm spring is 90% desert), full of hot girls, for almost a week. And the best part is they are lesbian, so the chances are pretty high to get lucky! *wink*wink*



 

Well, my girlfriend and I decided to go to VH since we are going to USA/Canada for our vacation this year. We were pretty excited and looking forward to the experience, since we were very bored with the lesbian scene in Singapore.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:23
 
Review: The L Word Season 6
Articles - Entertainment
Written by Indu   
Monday, 23 March 2009 00:00

So here it is. The end. The finale of the series that has alternately kept on the edge of our seats, swear in despair, rush to the nearest bar to get a drink at the end of 13 episodes only to wait for the next season to begin, cry, laugh and generally provide a good fodder for gossip and some good old-fashioned bitchfest.

The reason this season review is two weeks late, is because I had to consult a therapist for the acute and schizophrenic feelings of loss and relief. It is kinda like ending a very bad/abusive relationship that just gets worse by the day – you are so glad it has ended (and it certainly feels nice not to be beaten up all the time) but at the same time, you have been with the woman for 5 years and letting go is hard, and you miss being around her.

So, here’s a season review, as tough as it was to write.

Warning: spoilers ahead!

This season is quite possibly the worst season in the entire series. It is like Ilene Chaiken decided that this was the last season, they can throw everything out the window and write whatever crap they wanted, make it as bad as possible so that they can wean us off the show. It is a pity because it started off as a really good series, with witty, sharp, raw writing and likeable characters (of course it had its fair share of criticism, mostly to do with representation). Representation, however, became the least of its issues later as the writers got infected with the dreaded What Happened Yesterday Is Irrelevant (WHYII), characters were routinely transplanted with new personalities (hey, maybe that’s where Joss Whedon got the idea for Dollhouse), and in some cases, got abducted by aliens and were never spoken of again (anyone remember Mark? Papi? Yeah I didn’t think so).

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:21
 
The L Word Season 6: Viewer Reactions
Articles - Entertainment
Written by sayoni   
Friday, 20 March 2009 00:00

Sice it is the final season, we are letting our faithful viewers of The L Word let loose on their emotions about the final season, as it progressed episode by episode [the entire thread can be found here]. A season review is forthcoming as soon as this writer recovers from the punch the series finale dealt her.

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Was it me or does Pam Grier’s contract read “limited lines only and must contain the phrase ‘baby girl’ at least 5 times per episode.”?

badriah

Get Dylan her hair cut back.
Get Max her facial hair cut back.
Stop putting ultra red lipstick on Bette.
Get Jenny killed. Faster.

O’Ren

I think, if not for the fact that I would rather kill myself than watch another episode of the L Word, the Shenny scenes are part of what makes the L Word a wee bit worth watching. It’s not really a drama without those two.

But I’d like to live a little longer, so I’d rather not watch the L Word

Antoinette

I will add the L Word as one of the 7 Wonders of the Lesbian World.

Wonder number 1: Why lesbians still watch The L Word when they always complain about how shitty the show is written along with bad acting from some characters (Max, Nikki Stevens, etc).

Anyways I’ve only just finished watching episode 4. And I want Dylan and Helena back together you may disagree all you want but the two of them are hot together. Ignore all the talking parts and fast forward to the good parts. (yes there are good parts on the L Word even though some say it’s just a myth).

Kudos to Shane for holding on to her sanity when she found her bedroom has been swallowed by Jenny’s brain and turned into Jenny’s very own f**ked-up-playground-crime-scene-for-another-bad-story-to-be-written-by-her. Shane finds herself in the worst place possible… Edgar Allan Poe’s story… no wait that is paradise.

The only way to save Max is to kill her. Let’s face it… Ilene has never been kind to Max. The moment Moira came in with her midwestern butchy-ness, she’s been made fun off. When she decided she wanted balls, she’s been made fun off. When Moira became Max he was made fun off. Even Alice was discriminating against transsexuals (WTF?). Max didn’t want to cut off his tits coz his gf helped get them to come to life. He had a bf. Got knocked up. Seriously just get random strangers to come up to him and beat the crap outta him. Kill him off. Nothing against transsexuals but give that dude some dignity.

Alice, Tasha and Jamie…. HOTTTTT! I like how the whole washing the dishes part is like a little foreplay for a threesome. The way jamie touched Tasha’s shoulder and Alice went over to kiss the other shoulder. Then Jamie hugged Alice then Tasha. The way Alice looks at Jamie and the way Tasha looks at Jamie. Jamie is like the missing link in the relationship.

Bette going back to galleries… hmm… back with her old love interest (we all know Bette likes to bang her co-workers)… Angelica needs children’s aid real soon.

Kit and Drag… They probably paid a lot of money for the Hit Club so they need to show that place no matter how small or how redundant the scene is. We get it… Kit swore off men. So she will sleep with a drag queen. Kit is into Drags… drag kings… queens… men, women… (remember papi?). See this is why alchoholics should not stop drinking. Their life will get f**ked up.

Bring Dawn Denbo back, put her in a wrestling ring, pour oil on her and throw Joyce in with her. Non-stop hot action (something that is lacking from this drama coz L Word is secretly a lesbian porn).

Badriah

Dylan looks really ugly in this season!

I totally adore their love scene at helena’s beach house for the first time. Maybe in this episode they are trying to create the same fire but its just … so so! no doubt the chemistry is still there!

pink_is_in

issit just me, or did this week’s episode of the l word hit new levels of crazy? the willy wonka baby shower was kinda creepy, and jenny really needs a straitjacket.

doubtedly

Yeah, they made us all voyeurs with Jamie taking off her clothes and Alice and Tasha having sex. Very kinky. Can anyone tell me why Jamie is sticking around them to this extent? But omg, that body.

nei

Ep 7 left me so depressed that I think I need to call Jon Stewart and perform a personal re-enactment of the episode for me. I cried at the Tasha-Alice-Jamie bits, and I almost threw something at the TV when Bette and Tina’s birth mother didn’t arrive (though I kinda saw that coming)

pleinelune

I think it’s better than they don’t come up with last episode if it’s going to be like THAT!

pikachu

So are they going to reveal how Jenny died?!

Anj

 
Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz Wins Oscars in Queer roles
Articles - Entertainment
Written by sayoni   
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 00:00

Sean Penn was awarded the Best Actor award for playing gay politician Harvey Milk in San Francisco, in the hit movie Milk. (Read the review for Milk here) And Penelope Cruz was given Best Supporting Actress for playing a bisexual artist in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

We extend our congratulations to both artistes for winning these prestigious awards, and for lending visibility to our community. The other awardees can be found here.

Updates: The acceptance speech by Dustin Lance Black (the screenwriter for Milk) was completely censored by Mediacorp in Singapore, by STAR in Malaysia, and so was Sean Penn’s, partly. Watch the full acceptance speeches here and here, which we consider highly inspiring and touching.

We consider these acts of censorship both insulting and highly ironic – as the TV networks are propagating the very hate and ignorance the two artistes were trying to dispel.

Apparently, all references to Milk were also cut from the Indian broadcast – which is also highly ironic given an Indian film (Slumdog Millionaire) enjoyed center-stage in Hollywood for the first time, transcending the traditional discrimination against foreign films, and overcame racial and language boundaries to win 8 Oscars in a country it was not made in.

 
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