Kris Rothstein's Blog

Docs of all kinds

Kris Rothstein

In Blind Loves (watch the trailer here) Slovakian director Juraj Lehotsky tackles blindness and love, telling four stories with a hypnotic rhythm. Zuzana is still a teen and hoping to find love with someone who accepts her — she chats with boys online but when they find out she is blind they disappear. Elena is happily married, pregnant and already deeply in love with her child. She only hopes that no one from Social Services will try to classify her as an unfit mother. Peter teaches music to blind children and seems to be in perfect sync with his wife. Miro quietly persuades his partially-sighted girlfriend to defy her parents and marry him. They don't like that he's blind or that his family are or Romany background.

Although they face many challenges, each of the protagonists is wonderfully serene as they go through their daily routines. It’s a peaceful and beautiful film which is sometimes strange and astonishing — at one point a character walks into the water and proceeds into an animated underwater world where he is captured by a giant squid. This is one of a few films about blindness (or called Blindness) but I think it is one of the best. The film covers a very long time but isn’t showy about pointing out the passage of time. We do get to find out whether Elena’s child ends up with or without sight. It’s on again on Saturday the 4th at 1:30.

Chris and Don: A Love Story. This documentary is the story of Brtish author Christopher Isherwood and his long relationship with Don Bachardy. Although they met when Don was just sixteen and Chris was in his forties, the couple remained together until Isherwood’s death. Isherwood is one of my favourite novelists and his writing exemplifies clarity and subtlety while exploring the margins of society, most famously Weimar-Era Berlin. Isherwood came to American before WWII, settled in LA and worked in Hollywood. He met Don at a Santa Monica gay beach and slept with his brother before forming an attachment to Don. The relationship wasn’t always easy since Don was young and still figuring out who he was. He loved the celebrity lifestyle but longed to be taken seriously for his own merits and eventually became a painter. Isherwood died in the ‘80’s but Bachardy is the main interviewee in the film and his charm and wit make it a pleasure to watch.

They created animal personas for themselves (Chris was a horse and Don a cat) and wrote notes, letters and drawings, creating a fantasy life for their animal selves. It was a stroke of genius to animate these minimal drawings in the film to illustrate their affection. The film is about a relationship, so it isn’t a big story but it is interesting and is sure to bring some laughs.

Secret Museums begins with a peek into the world of erotic art collectors. A famous collector has recently died and all interested parties are assembled at Christie’s to divide up the spoils. But the film doesn’t really pick up speed until it considers the question of public collections and who should have access to them, regardless of the nature of the art they house. Scholarly credentials are required to visit “L’Enfer” (a collection held in Bibliothque Nationale in Paris since Napoleonic times), women were not allowed to visit the Gabinetto Segreto in Naples until recently and even now visits are restricted to fifteen minutes, and the British Museum denies that have their own Secret Cabinet, even though past employees vouch for its existence. These collections include painting, sculpture, illustrated books, original manuscripts and art objects from around the world. Those created most recently were intended to be scandalous but the objects from antiquity were simply part of everyday life.

This is a pretty short film and it doesn’t really get too far into any of the issues around collecting, exhibiting or the erotic side or art but I found it to be an interesting entry into the topic. I suspect that the reason these collections have been hidden for long is not to protect the public but to titillate us further — what is hidden still remains more erotic and exciting than what is revealed. There is another chance to see it October 8th at 9:30pm.



Kris Rothstein's Blog
Kris Rothstein

VIFF 2019: MODES 1

A collection of experimental short films encourages immersion in image and sound.
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Winners of the 15th Annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest!

Announcing the winners of the 15th Annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest!
Michael Hayward's Blog
Michael Hayward

VIFF 2019: "Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom"

A young Bhutanese teacher, wrestling with his commitment to that career, is sent to the remote Himalayan village of Lunana, to fulfill the final year of his contract.