Monthly Film Bulletin: GagaOOLala

By Miruna Tiberiu

 

GagaOOLala is a Taiwan-based streaming service which aims to bring together queer stories of all genres from around the world. As the first LGBT-focused media platform in Asia, GagaOOLala curates feature films, shorts, documentaries, and series from the past few years, as well as producing its own original content. This month, Miruna Tiberiu is back with more recommendations of the freshest queer cinema out there. 

 

Skin to Skin (2021), dir. Luke Daly and Nathan Fagan

This Irish experimental short film transforms the world of modern queer hook-up culture into a dreamscape of tender communication through intimacy. With voice-over musings interpreted from a conversation with the anonymised figure ‘O’, the film couples memories of deep connection during one-night stands with breath-taking stylised visuals of bodies caressing each other, holding each other, or simply being close to each other. There is a certain absent-mindedness to this physical intimacy; a hand draped over a shoulder plays distractedly with another’s curly locks, as his heart unravels cell by cell to reveal a realisation about his relationship to his father that he hadn’t connected before. Moving beyond the rigid assumption that emotional intimacy is reserved solely for the equally-rigid label of romantic relationships, Daly and Fagan acknowledge that hook-up culture does not need to be emotionless, practical, and focused on sexual pleasure alone. Another type of pleasure, that of sharing a moment with someone you may never see again, but who nonetheless has crossed paths with you at one point in your life, and whom you will always remember as a happy episode.

Watch Skin to Skin here.

 

After Sunset, Dawn Arrives (2022), dir. Andy Yi Li

It is the early 2000s, in Los Angeles; you can tell by the muted yet overpowering sun that taints anything it touches, and by the incredible fashion sense of every passer-by, of course. This opening atmosphere sets up Andy Yi Li’s nostalgic film which yearns for a past that never could be experienced in the first place. Plunging us into the world of the Chinese diaspora in the big city, the film follows a shy, pensive 65-year-old, Wan, as his eye is caught by a sleek young dancer on his walk back from the grocery shop one day. This is enough for Wan to begin musing over this encounter, yearning to meet the man. He finally does; the latter invites him to stop by his dance class. In the intimate room, lit by the glints of tinsel and disco balls and set to the soundtrack of Chinese disco ballads, Wan is slowly lured out of his shell, moving one step closer to embracing a queer identity he has never been able to until then. After Sunset, Dawn Arrives is a testament to the ever-regenerating present, an ode to first love and first community regardless of the societal confines of age. It is a stripped-back, sincere, and quiet film that speaks (or shows) in volumes, and is sure to break your heart even just a little.

Watch After Sunset, Dawn Arrives here.

 

Fabien (2021), dir. Pierre Guiho

The titular Fabien works as a carer in a residence for dependent persons. Cheerfully wading into each of his charge’s rooms, he adapts to their every need. He talks with those who miss the chit-chat of their youth and has a solution to their every need. We follow him during one such encounter with one Mr Verdier. The latter neither speaks nor walks. He sits, observing every speck of dust with the eyes of a Romantic artist, as he listens to Fabien’s lilting voice recite some canonical French poetry or other. His eyes, then, begin to linger on Fabien; on the way his leg hair grows, the sun glinting off his youthful skin, the crevices formed on his creased shirt. Fabien, as ever, adapts, forging a bond of care and communication with Mr Verdier based on feeling alone, where words are absent. Another quiet film about finding connection beyond the realm of speech, Fabien is a beautiful tale of cross-generational care.

Watch Fabien here.

If you liked the sound of these, check out more of what is on offer on GagaOOLala

 

Miruna Tiberiu is the Editor-in-Chief of GAY45. She is a student at Cambridge University. Tiberiu has written for numerous publications, including The Cambridge Review of Books, and the Cambridge Language Collective. She is the co-founder and co-editor of Cambridge’s first all-queer magazine, Screeve. Tiberiu was longlisted for the International News Media Association (INMA)’s “30 Under 30” Awards 2023.

 

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