By /bent | /Bent June 18, 2014 at 10:06AM
Salvation Army (directed by Abdellah Taïa)
A semi-autobiographical tale of a young Moroccan man navigating his sexuality (among many other things), "Salvation Army" is the directorial debut of Taïa, and is based on his own eponymous novel. Structured in a diptych, the first half of the film follows a teenaged Abdellah (Said Mrini) as he struggles with the social codes of Morocco. The second half, meanwhile, finds a young adult Abdellah (Karim Ait M'hand) on a scholarship in Switzerland, negotiating a whole new set of codes as a queer Moroccan man in Geneva. The two halves come together to create a subtly powerful (and gorgeously shot) film about both what it's like to be a queer person in the Arab world, and to be a queer Arab person in the Western world. More here.
Something Must Break (directed by Ester Martin Bergsmark)
"Something Must Break," the latest from Swedish filmmaker Ester Martin Bergsmark, centers in on the androgynous Sebastian (Saga Becker), whose painful transition into female alter-ego Ellie collides with a romantic interest in Andreas (Iggy Malmborg), a down-and-out punk who can’t resist Sebastian’s advances but assures he is “not gay”. The result is a gritty but heartfelt portrayal of chaotic love in modern day Stockholm. More here.
Songs For Alexis (directed by Elvira Lind)
"Songs For Alexis" follows two teenagers -- Ryan and Alexis -- as they struggle with being different in suburban American. Alexis's parents severely disapprove of her relationship with Ryan, a transgendered musician, which forces her to choose between her family and the man she loves. A coming of age story unlike anything you'll see in mainstream narrative cinema, this documentary is as lovely as it gets. More here.
To Be Takei (directed by Jennifer Kroot)
At 76 years old, George Takei has managed an impressive transition from being known best for playing Sulu in the original "Star Trek" television series and movies to becoming a poster boy for LGBT rights and a considerable internet sensation (he has nearly 6 million Facebook followers) thanks to his very popular memes. And now, Takei has his very own documentary to highlight that journey (among other things) and continue to confirm how endearing a figure he really is. Jennifer Kroot's "To Be Takei" follows Takei and his husband Brad as they navigate their lives together in Los Angeles, intermittently stepping back to discuss Takei being forced into Japanese-American internment camps as a child, his time on "Star Trek," and how he challenged the status quo for Asian actors. More here.
The Way He Looks (directed by Daniel Ribeiro)
Brazilian director Daniel Ribeiro's "The Way He Looks" is a thoughtful, optimistic and incredibly heartwarming coming of age drama. Following blind teenager Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) as he falls in love with Gabriel (Fabio Audi), the film is refreshingly more about Leonardo's independence than his sexuality. Which all makes for something very well observed and endlessly sweet, with Ribeiro essentially making it impossible not to root for the boys in his film. Rightfully winning awards left and right (including the Teddy Award at the Berlinale), "The Way He Looks" is definitely a safe bet at Frameline.