Awards – Merlinka festival 2012
Best Short Film
I’ve Only Just Begun (dir. E)
Little Gay Boy Christ is dead (dir. Antony Hickling, Amaury Grisel)
Prora (dir. Stéphane Riethauser)
Sergeant (dir. Nikola Ljuca)
Alone With Mr Carter (dir. Jean Pierre Bergeron)
Winner: I’ve Only Just Begun (dir. E)
Among Men – Being Gay in East Germany (dir. Ringo Rösener, Markus Stein)
King of Comics (dir. Rosa von Praunheim)
I Am A Woman Now (dir. Michiel van Erp)
Vito (dir. Jeffrey Schwarz)
Winner: I Am a Woman Now (dir. Michiel van Erp)
Best Feature Film
Zenne Dancer (dir. Caner Alper, Mehmet Binay)
GayBy (dir. Jonathan Lisecki)
Cloudburst (dir. Thom Fitzgerald)
The Perfect Family (dir. Anne Renton)
Winner: GayBy (dir. Jonathan Lisecki)
19:00 Side Effect Happiness
Directed by Julia Csabai und Alida Szabó
Duration: 52 min
Wolfgang and Roland are 72 and 58 years old and have lived together in Berlin since 11 years. They say, that today their life is happier and more fulfilled, than it was 25 years ago, before they met and neither Wolfgang, nor Roland knew, that they are HIV Positiv. Before the Virus, they lived an unremarkable middle-class life. They had a job and forgotten, faded or suppressed artistic ambitions. Back when they grew up and first discovered their affections towards men, homosexuality was still considered a felony in Germany. Both are deeply moved when they tell us how the Virus irrupted their lives. How it changed everything. They buried their lovers, too many friends and lost their jobs. For them, as for the many thousands infected in the 80’s, a survival seemed hopeless. The virus dominated their lives and the numerous side effects of the first medications robbed their vital force and dignity. Today all this hardly meets the eye anymore. Thanks to the new medication-cocktails Wolfgang and Roland regained authority over their time. Now, of all times, in this of all situations, they spotted their chance: the possibility of creativity and unhoped, fulfilled love. Their solitude turned into a mutual, creative zest for life. Although today they feel fine and are doing well, the shadow of the illness still keeps re-visiting from time to time. The emotional and often mirthful double-portrait accompanies Wolfgang and Roland through five years, 2005-2010. It is a romantic movie about two charming old Gentlemen.
20:00 Positive Youth
Directed by Charlie David
Duration: 42 min
Positive Youth is a one hour television documentary which follows four HIV+ positive youth (late teens to 27) in four different N. American cities in Cinema vérité style. Growing up in the 1980s and 90s we were hammered with terrifying statistics of HIV/AIDS. Thirty years in, we are still learning. What education do youth receive now and why is the youth transmission rate still the highest? We have seen retrospective documentaries on the AIDS crisis and interviews with survivors but what about the positive youth of today? We aim to feature accessible and inspirational individuals and the often-rocky road that they’ve traveled to get here. Each of the four subjects have been selected to create a dynamic perspective on the reality of living positive today. Medical and psychological experts weigh in to provide up-to-date facts and a historical context to the reality of living positively…
Directed by Przemysław Wojcieszek
Cast: Tomasz Tyndyk, Agnieszka Podsiadlik, Marek Kepinski
Duration: 82 min
Ksawey and Karolina pay Jan a visit. Jan is Ksawery’s grandfather living lonely in a desolate countryside. Ksawery is a drag queen performer. Karolina claims to be Ksawery’s agent. Jan is the only relative Ksawery ever felt tied to. Ksawery is gay. Karolina is Jewish. Jan, over 80, is a former resistance soldier. Karolina knows, the house she just came to, witnessed a murder unpunished for 70 years. Karolina wants answers. Jan is happy to be their host. Ksawery has nowhere to run.
Directed by: Chris Arnold
Duration: 92 min
“Trans” is an extraordinary documentary feature about men and women…and all the variations in between. It is about the Transgender Community, perhaps the most misunderstood and mistreated minority in America and around the world. Inspired by the incredible story of Dr. Christine McGinn and her important work as a transgender surgeon, “Trans” provides an up-close and very personal vision into the lives, loves, and challenges of a remarkable cast of characters of all ages and from all walks of life. These are the stories of confusion and courage, excitement and emotion that have never been told—until now. To anyone who ever looked in a mirror and wondered, “who they really are?”. “Trans” asks another question…”are you brave enough to find out?”
21:00 Zenne Dancer
Directed by Caner Alper, Mehmet Binay
Cast: Kerem Can, Giovanni Arvaneh and Erkan Avci
Duration: 99 min
An unlikely trio, an unshakeable friendship and family boundaries that prove deadly to breach. A feature film about an unusual trio: Daniel, a German photo-journalist in Istanbul without much knowledge about Middle Eastern values. Can, a flamboyant, out and proud male belly dancer with lots of love and support from his family, and Ahmet born to an eastern and conservative family whose quest for honesty and liberty results in a tragic end. Zenne Dancer has been inspired by the true story of Ahmet Yildiz, who was murdered for being gay at the age 26 by his own father in 2008.
17:00 Short films:
Zucht und Ordnung
Directed by Jan Soldat
Duration: 9 min
Oops! Shocking? Now here’s a rare sight: two naked elderly men in elegant surroundings talk about their relationship and the good old days, and chat in a refreshingly candid manner about their fetishes, sadomasochistic predilections and bondage.
Beyond the Team
Directed by Tim Kulikowski
Duration: 14 min
Discouraged as teenagers by the macho world of sports, a diverse group of transplanted gay men in San Francisco ultimately finds something more encompassing than a place to play soccer: camaraderie, extended family, political refuge and love. The film unfolds around Jose, a gay asylum refugee from Venezuela; Topher, a middle class Bay Area twenty-something who was bullied and learns to persevere; Jay, a middle-aged Japanese-American from Honolulu who finds love amongst his soccer buds; Brian, a sensitive yet confident artist from small-town Ohio who befriends a Russian teammate and his family; Chris, a once-nervous kid from suburban New Jersey who finds a ‘normal’ life in San Francisco. Themes include overcoming fear, the power of community, regaining self-confidence, mentoring, creating family, and of course, soccer!
Directed by Antonio Prisco
Duration: 3 min
Icontroversy is a short movie by Antonio Prisco a graphic designer for fashion and an experimental film maker. A violent and personal view of the actual Italian social and religious mood. Performed by a beautiful transgender (Lia Zeta), Icontroversy is a strong and raw accusation against homophobia, transphobia and minorities.
Directed by Stien Weijers
Duration: 3 min
An animated satire of the muscular ideal beauty in the mainstream gay scene.
Directed by Gina Pei Chi Chen
Duration: 13 min
Angeni, a young female track star, who dreams of becoming the fastest runner in the world, is forced to undergo the sex verification test due to her ultra masculine appearance and exceptional performance. Tormented by the medical scrutiny, in which she is made to believe her body is abnormal, Angeni’s sense of self is undermined, and her athletic dream is shattered by a social institution in need of classifying.
Hard 2 Say
Directed by Miguel Gabaldón
Duration: 13 min
Two boys meet in the streets of New York and spend the rest of the day together. Then everything will change. A speechless story about a subject we don’t talk about.
The Empty Nest
Directed by Francisco Lupini
Duration: 24 min
Monste, a scatterbrained, well-meaning sex therapist, embarks on a mission to reconnect with her angsty son after discovering his troubles may stem from the huge “problem” tucked inside his trousers.
Little Gay Boy Christ is dead
Directed by Antony Hickling, Amaury Grisel
Duration: 30 min
Jean Christophe lives with his mother, an English prostitute in Paris. He dreams of becoming a model. Over the course of a day, JC endures a series of abusive encounters that will change him forever. He goes from innocence to experience as he and his dreams are destroyed by those around him. The violence of the film is accentuated by the use of BDSM, Performance Art and Dance
19:00 The String
Directed by Mehdi Ben Attia
Cast: Claudia Cardinale, Antonin Stahly-Vishwanadan, Salim Kechiouche
Duration: 90 min
Malik has a lot on his plate when he returns home to Tunisia after living in France. He’s processing his father’s death, he can’t come out to his mother, and his childhood anxieties have resurfaced. But all of Malik’s problems seem to fade away when he falls for Bilal, the dreamy houseboy at his mother’s bourgeois estate.
21:00 The Perfect Family
Directed by Anne Renton
Cast: Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel, Jason Ritter
Duration: 84 min
Suburban supermom Eileen Cleary (Academy Award nominee Kathleen Turner) is the ultimate Catholic, and when she’s nominated for the coveted Catholic Woman of the Year Award at her local parish, it looks like she’s about to get the plaque to prove it. Only one final test remains—introducing her family to the church board for the seal of approval. Now, she must face the truth about her nonconformist family—a truth she has been glossing over for years. With her gay daughter (Emily Deschanel) about to marry her life partner, her unhappily married son (Jason Ritter) having an affair with the local manicurist, and her own marriage to a recovered alcoholic pulling at the seams, Eileen decides to take action, ramping up her meddling to new, and hilarious, heights. This heartfelt dysfunctional family comedy boasts a memorable performance from Academy Award nominee Turner as the conflicted and comical matriarch, alongside a bright ensemble cast including Richard Chamberlain and Michael McGrady. Newcomer director Anne Renton keeps the pacing taut and crafts an honest, modern family tale that asks us what truly makes a family perfect- how it looks on the outside, or how it feels on the inside.
17:00 Short films:
Directed by Stéphane Riethauser
Duration: 23 min
Prora, Rügen Island, Baltic Sea. A deserted Nazi holiday camp and communist military complex – one of Germany’s largest and most bizarre structures. Jan, 17, a rather timid German teenager, spends his summer holidays with his friend Matthieu, 18, a French selfproclaimed macho womanizer. After a frustrating night in the local club, the two boys decide to hang out on the beach at sunrise. What starts as an innocent game soon develops into an ambiguous confrontation, when Matthieu takes his friend along into the abandoned building, and provokes him by making fun of Germany’s past.
Directed by Reid Waterer
Duration: 15 min
Two straight actors rehearse for a movie’s upcoming gay love scene. How will they make out?
Directed by Vicente Bonet
Duration: 4 min
Inside the Death Star, two Imperial Stormtroopers strike their own battle
Directed by Cyril Legann
Duration: 15 min
A man staying in a hotel suite tries to bribe the hot, young concierge into performing sexual favors.
But when the man’s aggressive fantasies start taking a sinister turn, the concierge shifts the power dynamic to give his sinister benefactor a taste of his own medicine.
I’ve Only Just Begun
Directed by E.
Duration: 7 min
“I’ve Only Just Begun” is a ragingly beautiful and empowering story about Venuz Vulgar and his friends on their way to St. Petersburg, Russia.
It’s a Boy
Directed by J.C. Calciano
Duration: 6 min
Three babies discuss their sexuality, and if being gay, bi or straight is a choice.
The Confession of Father John Thomas
Directed by Elka Kerkhofs
Duration: 5 min
When you’re a penis and a priest, it’s bound to cause some, uhm, inner conflict. In the heart of the Australian outback lives Father John Thomas. During one of his “seemingly” innocent confessionals he is caught out by God who pushes him to reveal his true self. Along with the filthy fantasies of fellow sinner Miss Beaver Eater, he finally gets the balls to confess.
Directed by Nikola Ljuca
Duration: 21 min
One night in Belgrade two men meet and the next day nothing will be the same. The viewer watches as the evening unfolds and the puzzle is slowly revealed. Mood and style set the tone for this rare gay film from Serbia.
Directed by Liang Hu
Duration: 6 min
A day in the life of a lonely old man, James.
Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz
Duration: 93 min
In the aftermath of Stonewall, a newly politicized Vito Russo found his voice as a gay activist and critic of LGBT representation in the media. He went on to write “The Celluloid Closet,” the first book to critique Hollywood’s portrayals of gays on screen. During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, Vito became a passionate advocate for justice via the newly formed ACT UP, before his death in 1990. On June 27, 1969 a police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar called the Stonewall took a surprising turn when patrons decided it was time to fight back. As a riot erupted on Christopher Street, a new era in the Gay Rights Movement was born. Vito Russo, a 23-year-old film student, was among the crowd. Over the next twenty years until his death from AIDS in 1990, Vito would go on to become one of the most outspoken and inspiring activists in the GLBT community’s fight for equal rights. He was a pivotal part of three well-known organizations during their formative years: the GAA (Gay Activists Alliance), which staged subversive works of protest performance art to secure rights and dignity for all gay people; GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), formed to ensure that media representation of gays and lesbians was accurate; and ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power), a guerilla activist group that turned the fury over President Reagan’s refusal to do anything about AIDS into a series of highly telegenic acts of civil disobedience. In the midst of his commitment to activism, Vito was also a prolific writer. His seminal book “The Celluloid Closet” explored the ways in which gays and lesbians were portrayed on film, what lessons those characters taught gay and straight audiences, and how those negative images were at the root of society’s homophobia. Even before the book was published, Vito was taking “The Celluloid Closet” on the road, traveling to gay film festivals and college campuses for an entertaining and informative lecture-slash-clip show that intertwined Vito’s love of show business and radical gay politics. He continued writing, lecturing, speaking out and acting up until just months before his death.
Directed by Thom Fitzgerald
Cast: Brenda Fricker, Olympia Dukakis, Kristin Booth
Duration: 93 min
Cloudburst is a romantic road movie with Oscar-winning actresses Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as Stella and Dot, an aging couple who escape from a nursing home in Maine and drive to Nova Scotia on a quest to be legally married. Stella and Dot have been together for 31 years and have faithfully accompanied one another through life’s ups and downs. Now in their seventies, Stella is hard of hearing and Dot is legally blind. Dotty’s prudish granddaughter, Molly, decides the best place for Dot is a nursing home that will provide all the necessities. This forces Stella and Dot to make a bold decision: they will leave their hometown and make their way to Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal. It’s a last-gap bid to stay together. En route to Canada, they pick up a young hitchhiker, Prentice, played by newcomer Ryan Doucette. A small-town boy turned modern dancer, he is returning to Nova Scotia to visit his dying mother. Despite his bravado, Prentice is a confused and wounded soul who has much to learn from Stella and Dot as they wage their own unexpected battle – after three decades, can they keep their family together?
17:00 Short films:
Directed by Raymong Yeung
Duration: 10 min
A relationship, which was once loving and fulfilling has disintegrated into indifference and betrayal. However, is the continuing comfort of companionship and familiarity worth the despair? Danny, a gay Asian man, must face this dilemma and question his commitment to a stale relationship.
Directed by Ewan Duarte
Duration: 6 min
Spiral Transition is a compelling, candid, interwoven documentary exploring the filmmaker’s relationship with his mother and how it is changing and evolving as he transitions genders.
Alone With Mr Carter
Directed by Jean Pierre Bergeron
Duration: 17 min
In 1997, the year Ellen DeGeneres comes out, John is a little boy who dreams of becoming a cop. He wants to confide in his neighbor, Mr. Carter, that he is secretly in love with him. Time is of the essence as the 65-year-old hetero detective is moving away forever.
Directed by Seth Poulin
Duration: 11 min
Kyle struggles to hold onto his ailing relationship with David, whose health is rapidly deteriorating from Alzheimer’s. But as tension between the couple reaches the breaking point, David wanders off into the cold…
Directed by Adrian Hume Robinson
Duration: 12 min
Tandem is a dark tale of love in which the two central characters find their relationship thrown into turmoil by an unexpected discovery of truths. While the outgoing ‘Mr. Then’ is forced to lie low, his less confident and insecure lover ‘Mr. Now’ tries to make sense of an unwanted reality. Brooding on the harshness of his situation, ‘Mr. Now’ will have to use all of his depths of strength to pull through – unless love really does conquer all and ‘Mr. Then’ proves to be the strong shoulder of support that he promised to be.
Directed by Javier Sanz
Duration: 5 min
The worst of an argument is the silence that follows. A silence that is everywhere.
Directed by Genady Gavleshov
Duration: 12 min
A person finds the courage to change his life in two fundamental ways: honoring his true self as he transitions from married priest to openly gay atheist, and respecting the transition of his transgender son.
Die Katze tanzt
Directed by Esther Bialas
Duration: 7 min
Ever since their childhood Anne is secretly in love with her best friend, Kathrin, who is going to get married the next day. An unexpected occurrence during the Hen’s Night celebration is bound to shake up their friendship.
Giselle & Malice
Directed by Orio Penalver & Eric Monteagudo
Duration: 5 min
Legend has it that, in a time of darkness and prohibition, there were two women who fought for what they loved.
Directed by Catherine Crouch
Duration: 4 min
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – but wait – what kind of bread? A comedy about a first date with extra baggage.
Through the lens of inkedkenny
Directed by Denize Galiao, Marie Elisa Scheidt
Duration: 17 min
InkedKenny is a photographer who has a special point of view on his models. He shapes the universe of the homosexual Bear Community of Motreal by taking pictures of muscular men who embody a certain ideal of beauty. Those photos underline their masculinity. What appears at first glance to be a pure body cult is a source of strength in an extraordinary fate.
19:00 I Am A Woman Now
Directed by Michiel van Erp
Duration: 87 min
I Am A Woman Now (formerly Casablanca Revisited), the first generation of transsexuals who had their sex change in Casablanca back in the mid-1950s to 1960s take stock of their lives. Do these pioneers feel like total women and did it give them the fulfillment in life they expected ? The women featured in the film were all treated by the same ‘miracle doctor’, Georges Burou. As long as these ‘patients’ paid, there were no pre-conditions, no questions asked at his clinic in Casablanca. A film about the pursuit of an almost unattainable dream, about the gap between its realization and the hard reality that sometimes follows.
Directed by Jonathan Lisecki
Cast: Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas, Mike Doyle
Duration: 89 min
Jenn and Matt are best friends from college who are now in their 30s. Single by choice, Jenn spends her days teaching hot yoga and running errands for her boss. Matt suffers from comic-book writer’s block and can’t get over his ex-boyfriend. They decide to fulfill a youthful promise to have a child together… the old-fashioned way. Can they navigate the serious and unexpected snags they hit as they attempt to get their careers and dating lives back on track in preparation for parenthood? “Gayby” is an irreverent comedy about friendship, growing older, sex, loneliness, and the family you chose.
17:00 King of Comics
Directed by Rosa von Praunheim
Duration: 80 min
Ralf König, one of the most successful German cartoonists, became famous with his comic book The most desired man that was made into a film in 1994, starring Til Schweiger. Wittily playing with queer clichés, he also reaches a wide heterosexual audience. In King of Comics Rosa von Praunheim portrays an unpretentious and modest man that with his brilliant observation skills has been leaving his mark on generations.
19:00 Among Men – Being Gay in East Germany
Directed by Ringo Rösener, Markus Stein
Duration: 91 min
This documentary feature addresses the question of how gay men lived and could live their lives under ‘real socialism’, where GDR ideology considered homosexuality to be a remnant of bourgeois decadent morality and harmful to a socialist society. In that film we meet six men who talk openly about their social and intimate experiences, some for the first time, and get to know several individuals who could hardly be more diverse, or more contradictory. At one end of the scale is Frank Schäfer, a barber and a shrewd and resourceful individualist; at the other, Eduard Stapel, an academic theologist who founded a GDR-wide network of homosexual associations and upon whom the Stasi firmly set its sights. Even though homosexuality had not been punished since the 1950s, the conspiracy of silence, the condemnation, the pressure to conform to society and to sexual discretion remained. This story introduces us to a number of strong and – for all their pain – spirited men who were obliged to come to terms with their homosexuality alone, each with their own very different strategies for survival and adjustment.
21:00 Prime Time Soap
Directed by Odilon Rocha
Cast: Guilherme Duarte, Vanessa Giácomo, Paulo Lontra
Duration: 106 min
Brazil, 1978, a group of people live their lives under the dictatorship, the euphoria of disco fever and the fantasy of “Dancin’ Days”, a prime time soap, which fictional drama is set on the homonymous night club in Rio de Janeiro. After a fatal incident, Amanda and Dora (a high-class prostitute addicted to the TV drama, and her “maid”) are forced to run away from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro with the fed Brandão in hot pursuit. While the excitement of visiting the disco “Dancin’ Days” distracts Amanda from the danger of the situation she is in, Dora gets ready to confront her secret past. In a six degrees of separation manner, their destine will cross with João Paulo, a diplomat who feels like a foreigner in his own country, the revolutionary Vicente and his brother Pedro, and the teenager Caio, who was raised by his grandparents and counts with the support of his friend Mônica as he struggles to be accepted as a gay man. Both youngster are crazy about disco fever and fascinated by the soap “Dancin’ Days”.