In the Blog
Hot Docs Reviews Part One
Featuring documentaries from across the world the Hot Docs festival in Toronto runs from April 28 to May 28 2016. Check out part one of our reviews featuring the films Ovarion Psycos and Café Désirs. Students with valid ID have free festival admission for films screening before 5:00 p.m.
DIRECTORS: KATE TRUMBULL-LAVALLE & JOANNA SOLOWSKI
2016, USA, 72 MINUTES
Still from Ovarian Psycos, courtesy of Hot Docs
“Haters gonna hate, and ovaries gonna ovulate” and “Ovaries so big, we don’t need no fucking balls” are some of quotes from Ovarian Psycos that had me snapping my fingers and smiling so big while watching this awe-inspiring documentary. Set in the eastside of Los Angeles, this film takes the audience into the world of the Ovarian Psycos bicycle brigade, a group a young womxn of colour who take to the streets on Luna rides every full moon to reclaim public space and support each other through common struggles. Their organizing is centered around Indigenous ceremony to help one another heal from the ongoing wounds of white supremacy and racism, hetero-patriarchy, classism, queerphobia, fatphobia, ableism, and abuse. In this bicycle brigade, the Psycos find family, kinship, support, and empowerment across identities. Directors Kate Trumbull-LaValle and Joanna Sokolowski do a marvelous job of juxtaposing the rough life that these young womxn survive on a daily basis with the strength of community building. Revolving around the bicycle as a symbol of empowerment, mobility, and overall badassery, this film captures our basic need to feel backed up by family, friends, and community as we face trauma, exclusion, and oppression. Positioned in a long line of womxn of colour, chicana, and cholo organizing, members of the brigade also embody elements of punk, riot grrrl, and DIY culture. Reclaiming ovaries as a site of empowerment rather than shame, members proudly mask their faces with bandanas screen-printed with ovaries as they ride into the moonlit night. For screening times and more info, click here.
DIRECTOR: RAYMONDE PROVENCHER
CANADA, 2015, 52 MINUTES
Still from Café Désirs, courtesy of Hot Docs
Set in the Algerian city of Constantine, Café Désirs follows three young men and their struggles with sexual repression, masculinity, and shame. Director Raymonde Provencher offers some insight into the socio-political factors that have led the city in which Malik, Oussama, and Badredine reside to become more sexually repressive after the civil war in the 1990s. The views offered by the three men range on the spectrum of sensitivity and critical social analysis, which on one hand shows their sobering contradictions in attitude, and on the other hand at times gives too much space for dominant hetero-patriarchal sexism. Each man has a different approach to dealing with social pressures, be it dreaming of leaving the country, community organizing, or conforming to Arab machismo. Without diminishing the lived realities of these subjects and also taking into account the scope of this film, I still find it interesting that the director chose to center the discussion on a (privileged) male experience of systems of oppression that affect women and trans people in more and deeper ways. I am also wary of how this films and the choice to follow these three men in particular fits into an ever burgeoning Islamophobic global tide. That said, the documentary is effective in its portrayal of the scenic beauty of the city in contrast with the ugly undertones of a masculinity based in fear, shame, and homophobia. For screening times and more info, click here.