Seventh Row

Quebexit, North by Current, Dungarees, and more to watch this weekend

published29 days ago
6 min read

Hello there,

This is the free version of our weekly newsletter. The premium version has 18 excellent recommendations, on top of these, of what to watch at festivals, virtual cinemas, VOD, and via streaming. We also spotlight several virtual film festivals worth catching worldwide, featuring films we love that have yet to secure distribution (so this may be your only chance to see them!).

In our premium newsletter for members this week, we recommend more virtual film festival screenings, plus additional VOD, virtual cinema, and streaming recommendations. If you become a member now, shoot us an email, and we'll be happy to send you these recommendations, too!

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Wherever you are in the world, this week, you can now stream Henry Gamble's Birthday Party.

In the US, the Frameline LGBTQ+ wraps this weekend and features some of our favourites from the LGBTQ+ film fest circuit, including North by Current.

In Canada, the great Canadian satire Quebexit screens for the next week across the county. Also, Toronto's Japanese Film Festival wraps this weekend; our top recommendation is True Mothers.

In the UK, catch up with one of our favourite shorts on the festival circuit, Dungarees, free on All4.

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Oakville Film Festival - across Canada

Quebexit - June 26-July 3

One of the best (and funniest) Canadian films to premiere on the festival circuit last year is screening once again. It's still yet to pick up distribution, so catch it while you can!

Here's an excerpt from my intro to my interview with director Joshua Demers:

When Québexit begins, Quebec has had another referendum to separate from Canada, only this time, the leave vote won by 51%, rather than the opposite. Quebec members of the Canadian military have immediately decided to take action: covering the Canadian flags on their uniforms, setting up checkpoints at the provincial borders, all while wondering why they haven’t seen their latest paycheck from the Canadian government. Their former (anglophone) colleagues in the Canadian army arrive on the scene to try to keep them in check; at first, the Quebec army’s primary concern seems to be to get people to tweet with the hashtag “#Québexit”.
Set entirely over a small patch of land at the Quebec-New Brunswick border, Québexit is a biting satire about the pettiness of French-English relations on land that they both stole from Indigenous people. The film doesn’t take sides so much as celebrate, or at least depict, the cultural and linguistic differences in Canada, the political issues these cause, and the bureaucratic silliness and chaos that it causes. It’s very funny and whip-smart, with Yuvens and Maurice, who also star, as particular standouts.

Read the full interview.

Click here for tickets.

Frameline Film Festival - across US - until June 27

San Francisco's LGBTQ+ film fest is the oldest in North America, and this year, it's streaming across the US. Events like Frameline are hugely important in creating spaces where the complexity and variety of queer life is visible. Individual tickets are $10 or purchase a streaming pass for $95. Click here for tickets.

North by Current

Here's Orla on the film:

In North by Current, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his small Michigan hometown to work through family trauma. Several years before, his sister's two-year-old daughter mysteriously died from head trauma, and her husband was charged and then acquitted. Returning home means tackling generations of hurt in his family: his Mormon parents' initial hesitancy to accept him as a trans man, the impact that familial conflict had on his sister, and her grief and cycles of depression as a result of losing a child. We watch as Madsen travels down from Chicago through the years — title cards track time passing from 2016 to 2020 — and with every visit, things change.

Madsen's film is very much in the vein of the personal, self-reflective cinema that we're exploring in a session of the upcoming 2021 Creative Nonfiction Workshop. That session will feature a discussion between filmmakers Kirsten Johnson and Sophy Romvari, whose work Madsen's feels in conversation with, particularly Romvari's. His documentary is a highly subjective, intimate, and lovingly crafted portrait of his family. The film can feel unfocused at times, but that's also part of its design, as Madsen starts off exploring his family dynamic without knowing what he might achieve through doing so. By the end of the film, he's still not totally sure — he questions in voiceover what the point of putting his family through this was — but we sense, in the end, that the filmmaking process has played a part in the family's processing of trauma.

Orla's interview with Angelo Madsen Minax is coming soon.

Toronto Japanese Film Festival - available across Canada - until June 27

True Mothers

Naomi Kawase's latest film, True Mothers, is also one of her best. While it's been released in the US and UK, the film has still yet to receive Canadian distribution. Fortunately, Canadians can catch it at the Canada-wide virtual Toronto Japanese Film Festival which runs from June 5 to 27. You won't want to miss it.

Here's an excerpt from my TIFF '20 review:

It’s a shame that Naomi Kawase’s features have a tendency to vanish from English-speaking countries as soon as they make their festival run, because she’s a uniquely thoughtful, sensitive filmmaker. True Mothers is perhaps my favourite of her films I’ve seen (Still the Water, Sweet Bean, and Vision) because of how smartly it deals with what it means to be a mother, and sadly, the sheer amount of shame that is associated with it.
True Mothers is the rare story of an adoption told from two perspectives and in two parts: first, the adoptive mother, Satoko (Hiromi Nagasaku), and then, the birth mother, Hikari (Aju Makita). Both women’s stories start before their son was born, and both women’s stories continue well after, until they meet again. Because Hikari got pregnant too young, at 14, her family is ashamed of her, attempting to hide the pregnancy altogether, and then expecting her to get over the traumatic separation from her child immediately. By contrast, Atoko was unable to get pregnant due to her husband’s infertility, a source of such shame for him that he suggests she consider divorcing him on learning of his problem. Their inability to get pregnant is a source of shame for both of them. This is magnified for all parties involved because Japanese culture strongly emphasizes genetic bonds, something Hirokazu Koreeda explored less effectively in Like Father, Like Son.

Read the full review here.

We also recorded a podcast on True Mothers and Naomi Kawase's career more generally.

Listen to the podcast here.

Click here to purchase tickets

Now streaming

Henry Gamble's Birthday Party - Mubi US/Canada/UK/wherever Mubi is, Tubi US/Canada, Prime US/UK, Hulu/Kanopy US

Here's Orla on the film:

Director Stephen Cone specialises in gentle, warm queer coming-of-age films, from Princess Cyd to The Wise Kids. His 2015 film, Henry Gamble's Birthday Party, is no different. It's an ensemble film that takes place over one day — Henry Gamble's (Cole Doman) 17th birthday. The gay, closeted preacher's kid is surrounded by a cast of colourful characters, from parents to teens, who are all trying to enjoy the pool party while secretly dealing with their own hang-ups. Cone's ability to make each and every character uniquely interesting is pretty astounding. You'll be left wanting more of each of them.

Stephen Cone was a guest on Lockdown Film School last year! Watch his masterclass here.

Dungarees - All 4 in UK

A still of two boys playing video games in their underwear in Dungarees.

Here's Orla on the film:

Dungarees is such a lovely, blissful respite from the harsh world and the heavy cinema that reflects it — I’ve seen it twice now, first at BFI Flare, and a second time at LFF, because I couldn’t resist.

At Flare, I wrote: “Abel Rubinstein’s Dungarees, is a charming, casual day-in-the-life study of Blake (Pete MacHale), a gay trans man who, after years spent transitioning and battling gender dysphoria, finally feels comfortable in his masculine presentation. After years of being asked to prove to people that he’s a man, Blake struggles with expressing himself in ways that might be considered feminine, like wearing nail polish. Surrounded by the supportive presences of his boyfriend and sister, we witness Blake take those first steps, during a day of lazing around in bed, playing video games, and having sex.”


Alex Heeney, Editor-in-Chief

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