Monthly Film Bulletin: GagaOOLala

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, Managing Editor comes back with more short film recommendations to fill your last long summer days before September begins. Here are her picks!

 

Oisín (2022), dir. Alba Fernandez

This BFI-Flare-selected Irish short film explores unconditional love during high and low moments in life alike. We follow Clara, a single mother raising her neurodivergent son Oisín, who befriends the girl next door, a younger lesbian called Olivia who leads a much more active lifestyle, going out, drinking and dancing almost every night. They slowly fall in love with each other, and in a brilliant, carefree dance sequence, Clara lets loose for the first time in the film and accepts that she can let herself have fun sometimes. What is more, she also accepts here that it is never too late to explore queer desire. It is Olivia who comes to embody this promise of the youth Clara never had, all whilst Oisín stands to remind her of her responsibilities as a mother. Thinking, at first, that she must make a choice between these two lives, Clara comes to realise she can live them both simultaneously. In a beautiful closing shot, we see Clara in bed, under the morning sun, between Oisín and Olivia, heads pressed together. It is a moment of utmost peace. Oscillating its focus between this exciting discovery of queer love and the mother-child relationship, the film explores gives equal weight to both. Oisín, too, radiates love for his mother, in a refreshing portrayal of autism that moves beyond the ‘emotionally cold’ trope.

Watch Oisín here.

 

 

Desires of the Flesh (2018), dir. Rafaela Camelo

How can you find sexual liberation in the most constraining of spaces? Since 2016, Pope Francis has allowed women to take part in the washing of the feet ceremony, a key part of the Catholic experience. Two teenage girls, Camila and Giovana, meet at Church school and prepare, together with their female classmates, for this monumental event. This short, from up-and-coming queer filmmaker Rafaela Camelo, refuses to shy away from the coming-of-age experience in a fiercely Catholic society. Instead, she voraciously turns it on its head, adopting the intensity of this bodily contact between human flesh and divine power, the sharing of fluids, to tell a profoundly queer coming-of-age tale of discovering desire. An absurdist ballad of sexual liberation, Desires of the Flesh is shot in a radiantly fresh way, every sequence carefully positioned to bring out these parallels between Christian love and queer desire. The viewer is transfixed as a dance scene the girls perform before the feet-washing ceremony, where the tale of the Original Sin is told through an electro-pop soundtrack, simultaneously criticises the hypocrisy of this homophobic organ of beliefs and weaves together an electrifying parable of modern love, making saints out of its protagonists.

Watch Desire of the Flesh here.

 

 

Two Spirit (2020), dir. Yu Hsin Chen

Two Spirit is a joyously queer documentary short. It follows Wang Hao, a gay, non-binary, indigenous person living in Taiwan, as they talk through their childhood, their hopes in life, and their sheer pride to be queer. The centrepiece of the film is Wang Hao’s relationship with their mum, and memories of past family traumas are cut with endearing scenes of the small family now. Despite feeling a lack of love, from any place, growing up, Wang Hao has been able to weave together a tight-knit support system as a young adult, one which shares their own pride in the face of their queerness. A heart-warmingly intimate documentary shot in seemingly spontaneous vignettes of life, Two Spirit balances with near-perfection an enlightening, little-discussed experience of queerness, with the universality of queer joy.

Watch Two Spirit here.

 

 

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

 

Article by Miruna Tiberiu.

Miruna Tiberiu is the Managing Editor 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 is currently long-listed for the International News Media Association (INMA)’s “30 Under 30” Awards 2023.

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