In short film Naughty Spot, Brazilian 30-something Tonio arrives in Corsica. He goes on the usual hookup app, but finds no one here shows their face. He contacts a man going by the handle The Oracle, who shows him the real Corsica for queer men, in the cruising spots by day and night.
This is a film about sex, yes, but also belonging, safety, differences in generations and culture, and change, or lack of change, in society. Tonio is used to the freedom found in big cities, back in Brazil or even in mainland France. But Corsica is not that. It is an island, with a population of only 300, 000 people. Here, cruising is still the way you build trust in your encounters. Offline, no digital record, face to face.
Tonio grows to appreciate this older way of making sexual connections, as he has also experienced the downside of hookup apps, the bodyshaming, the racism. As the Oracle speaks, the beauty of Corsica opens up to him, and why, despite the fewer freedoms, you would stay in this beautiful place.
There is a Ghost of Me is a visual poem mourning the lost opportunities for betterment on both a personal and political level. The director muses on his rotting teeth as his wisdom tooth extraction coincides with the election of Trump. The rising rot in public life is mirrored in his body, and the death of his dreams for a better society becomes a ghost of what could have been, haunting places of political strife. In protests in the US capital, in the burning buildings of Lima in Peru, across the world, we are being haunted by the ghosts of our failed ideals.
Will My Parents Come To See Me is about a young man going through his last 24 hours in the prison system.
Farah is an inmate in Somali jail. A police officer arrives to walk him through his final day. She is an older woman, whose face has a calm and steady countenance that belies a sense of determined weariness. Farah is a scrawny teenager, barely a man. He looks to be all of 18 or 19. His eyes are set back in his face, his neck is long with a jutting throat, he looks like a baby bird, rather than hardened criminal. Next to his escort, he looks like a son with his mother.
As the story unfolds, you realise Farah is here for terrorism, a crime you can’t really square with his gentle demeanour and frail frame. To be honest, he seems a bit slow. But then you realise, that’s exactly who these bastards recruit, young boys, lost kids, those who can be convinced to do their bidding without question. You see Farah pray, and you think, he’s heard people promise he will go to heaven, and he’s heard people promise he will go to hell, he is probably wondering which ones were right. You just look at him, and despite everything, you just think 19 is not enough time to earn a place in hell. How can you fuck up your life so badly in such a small space of time?
This doesn’t just feel like Farah’s last day. Despite having almost no lines, the police officer’s silent presence conveys a wealth of strain. While ostensibly appearing unmoved by the process, you get the sense that this is a final day for her too, that this is the last time she can do this.
Powerful short film.
A ghost story about a phantom island.
Podesta Island is a tiny island supposedly glimpsed by a sailor in the 19th century off the coast of Chile. Its existence has been in contention ever since. Chile claims it as its territory as an expedient way of extending their waters for economic reasons. It’s on Chilean maps. But it has never been found or even photographed.
The filmmaker uses a documentary style to convey both historical truth, popular rumour, and a fictional drama about castaways on the island. The effect is spooky. Among the bits of folklore about Podesta, the director weaves a story of three people lost at sea. The missing who have an unknown existence end up on an island with an unknown existence. This liminal state between living and dead, between real and unreal.
The film is about our constructions of fact and fiction, our separations into legitimate and illegitimate narratives of reality. The Chilean state’s recognition of an unevidenced island because it is useful to them, is emblematic of our post-truth times, where reality is whatever the government says it is. Equally the fictional story of those missing at sea reflects back on the true story of the Chilean state’s disappearance of hundreds of people under Pinochet. Many of those who were detained and tortured, were tied to railroad sleepers and dumped out of helicopters into the ocean. Their remains were never found. All those real people in the sea that the government denied the existence of, while recognising the existence of an unreal island.
The film ends on a retelling of a Slavic myth about an island which can appear and disappear at will. Those who find it are said to be granted all they desire. For those without conclusions, it seems a happy fate.