The best of FAVA hits on some great notes
Directed By Sheena Rossiter
Anybody who has visited São Paulo, Brazil can tell you that homophobic and transphobic violence is a very serious problem—especially in the favelas (slums). More than 1.5 million people live in 1,700 favelas across São Paulo. Yet, beyond this rampant violence against the queer community, São Paulo also hosts the largest LGBT Pride Parade in the world, with an estimated three million participants that grows every year.
So on paper, Brazil seems like a pretty welcoming community for the LGBT, but that’s unfortunately not the case.
This is the truth that filmmaker Sheena Rossiter and producer Sandro Silva’s 3 Siblings documentary looks to clarify. The film follows the stories of Ludmylla, Victor, and Angelo, three siblings who live in São Paulo, each with different gender identities and sexual orientations. Ludmylla was born as Leonardo, and is transitioning with the hopes to “abolish” her masculine identity forever, while Victor identifies as gay, and Angelo identifies as straight.
Throughout the 22-minute film, each character quickly but, in Angelo’s case, slowly, comes to accept their sibling’s identity while gearing up for the LGBT Pride Parade. This is an easy task for Ludmylla and Victor who have been supporting each other since coming out, but it takes time for Angelo who fits the common South American ‘machismo’ stereotype. At 31-years-old he is also the patriarch and provider for his siblings since their mother passed.
Ludmylla and Victor have thankfully never suffered a violent situation due to their gender identity, but the film strongly portrays queer hate violence as “something that happens every day.” The film is also a tribute to São Paulo’s favela streets. Though they are slums, the filmwork paints the favelas as beautiful, diverse melting pots of inclusivity.
The goal here is to point out the positives of São Paulo, with the finest moments showing the siblings partying it up during the colourful Pride Parade. At its core, 3 Siblings is a truly enjoyable, human story.
Directed By Zsóphia Opra-Szabó
Stop-motion animation has long toed the line between being something fun, and being something absolutely terrifying. Zsóphia Opra-Szabó does well showing this in her FAVA Fest entry, Sophia, which follows the title character as she transverses her cloth, clay, and plastic universe.
This world appears to be made up of picture frames, and Sophia, apparently fretting old age, uses gusts of wind and a Mary Poppins-esque umbrella to travel from self-contained world to self-contained world until she eventually lands in a city frame. There, she is trapped, as no wind blows, and the short’s score takes a decidedly jazzy note. Eventually, she meets and befriends an old man who begins to court her, but she eventually decides to move on with her travels. The old man, though, turns into a spider and traps her in a bird cage surrounded by webs. It’s honestly pretty unsettling at this point.
That’s the strength of Sophia, though. The 10-minute film wistfully displays the protagonists longing for freedom, even in a bizarre universe where everything exists between wooden borders, and where the only other person she meets apparently wants to (yikes) keep her trapped in a cage, feed her cupcakes, and stroke her hair.
When the characters do ‘speak,’ they mumble vaguely, like characters in The Sims, and most of their scarce emoting comes from bulging eyes and other non-verbal ques.
All of this, and the drab backdrops, broken up only by scant pieces of red, gives the film a surreal quality—intentional—as does the film’s kind of jerky animation—probably unintentional? At times, Sophia is strange, and sad, with hints of beauty. At others, it is jarring, vague, and downright creepy, but that’s stop-motion done right for an adult audience.
Directed by Dylan Rhys Howard
“Strike oil.” That phrase once carried the chime of hoped-for luck, the ring of money. On Oct. 3, 1930, near Henderson, Texas, as journalist Lawrence Wright recounts, that afternoon “a gurgling was heard; at eight o’clock, oil shot into the air in a great and continuous ejaculation. People danced in the black rain, and children painted their faces with oil.”
Moments into Dylan Rhys Howard’s Peak Oil—a sharp-eyed, finely allegorical short—the face of Andrew (Andrew Gummer) seems painted only with dismay, maybe flecked with resignation. He drives to the city (Edmonton) from the oil-patch, then hits the bar, but the bar soon hits back. Bumping into another guy, Andrew turns, looks woefully fatalistic about the ritual he’ll have to enact, and the pair go at each other out front, on the sidewalk. Then Andrew’s truly down and out.
There’s another, far more harrowing confrontation to come, with the seemingly tranquil, comfortably urban Amanda (Mary Hulbert). (After that bar scene, would it be drilling too deep to see these coupled initials—AA—as reflective of addiction or, perhaps, an attempt at recovery?) But Peak Oil is all about a greater reckoning—how to face the fall in fortunes? From a firetorn Fort Mac to scores of abandoned wells, the crash saw Alberta’s billion-dollar pumping industry, and its mostly male workers, hit hard. Testosterone-whiffs of desolation and entanglement can be sensed in two striking landscape shots: Andrew pissing in an open field, a phallic, candy-striped smokestack in the distance; a barbed-wire fence, one of its wire strands gnarled and twisted up, all bent out of shape, beyond repair.
And so, as a choir’s voices soar, as if in search of transcendence, the last face we see isn’t a face struck with expectation, love, or belief, but a face stricken. Like an economy. Or a province.