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.


Gabber Lover (2016), dir. Anna Cazenave Cambet

A graduate of the prestigious French film school La Fémis and winner of the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, Anna Cazenave Cambet takes us back in time with her electrifying coming-of-age short. This film is for the nostalgics among us. The premise is deliciously simple: Laurie and Mila live in the middle of a vast and lonely forest. They are 13 and it is the early 2000s. What else could they do to pass the time but ride Laurie’s brother’s motorcycle (without asking, of course) to a remote lake and dance together to gabber music played on, you guessed it, a kitschy cassette player? As the towering pine trees replace the bright lights and sweaty air of a Berlin club, the two dance like there is no tomorrow. They dance to rebel against their boring lives. They dance because they are misunderstood. But most of all, they dance together. We see those little signs, those stolen glances as the other is dancing, eyes closed, the speechlessly mesmerised face watching and beginning to understand what she is feeling. Capturing the experience of feeling fully and for the first time this queer desire, without shying away from portraying its sheer intensity, Gabber Lover will leave you speechless.

Watch Gabber Lover here.


Panthers (2020), dir. Erika Sanchez

Moving just across the pond to Spain, Sanchez’ Berlinale-nominated short also follows two best friends who are 13 and only just beginning to grapple with their queerness. Joana and Nina are beyond comfortable around each other. They sleep on top of one another, have breakfast together, and walk to school, arms linked, as if each is a key part to the other’s daily routine. As with all teenagers, however, the two have their own struggles too. And, as teenagers, their bodies are constantly changing. Nina is recovering from an eating disorder whilst Joana finds themselves questioning their gender more and more. The film, then, is about becoming at home in your body – a constant process – and about how important a support network is when navigating this scary terrain. It is a joyous and mature film, treating its young protagonists with the care and respect their stories deserve. And if that wasn’t enough, it is also shot in the most gorgeous, muted tones. Every detail in every frame feels calculated, necessary.

Watch Panthers here.


The Casuarina Cove (2009), dir. Boo Junfeng

Junfeng’s spine-chilling short uses the medium of fiction to recount the real events that occurred at the height of the Singaporean government’s state-sanctioned pursuit of queer people. It recounts the events of an incident that occurred in the titular Casuarina Cova (Tanjong Pagar), in which undercover police set up in the famous cruising spot and lured queer men in order to arrest them. During this operation, 12 men were taken into custody, sentenced to caning and prison. We follow the fictionalised testimony of one of these men. Breath-taking shots of the rural cruising scene, lit only by the moon, reveal our protagonist sharing a tender kiss with another man before running away, terrified of his desire. Little more is revealed of the actual events; the film’s fabric, much like the protagonist’s traumatised memory, blurs itself purposefully. The film functions in this realm of the implicit, mimicking the atmosphere in which queer people in Singapore at the time, particularly men, had to live their daily lives. Exploring the particularities of queer identity in Singapore with refreshing nuance and depth, coupled with simple yet punching dialogue, this short provides an alternative, and much-needed, narrative.

Watch The Casuarina Cove here.


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


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 was longlisted for the International News Media Association (INMA)’s “30 Under 30” Awards 2023.

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