Tuesday, April 08, 2008

LLGFF: Female Sexuality

The Southbank Centre; photo by Val PhoenixWater Lilies (dir Celine Sciamma)
La Lupe: Queen of Latin Soul (dir Ela Troyano)
Don't Go (dir Amber Sharp)

Personal charisma and female sexuality are common features of these three films, disparate as they are on the surface. French drama Water Lilies takes on the contentious issue of adolescent female sexuality as shy teenager Marie pines for older sexy synchronised swimmer Floriane. As Marie's best friend, Anne, pursues Floriane's boyfriend, Francois, Marie becomes Floriane's confidante. The growing pains of girls are well handled by writer-director Celine Sciamma, who creates a dreamy environment for what is, essentially, a pot-boiler.

Cuban singer La Lupe was a real-life drama queen, living la vida loca from Cuba to New York to Puerto Rico, before dying in poverty as her star faded. Part Eartha Kitt, part Edith Piaf, she was a mesmerising presence on-stage, bewitching her audiences with her exuberant gestures, as well as a string of lovers with her uninhibited style. Ela Troyano's doc La Lupe: Queen of Latin Soul includes clips from several US TV appearances, including an extraordinary one with Dick Cavett, who described her as having a "pleasant menacing quality". Other interviews with those who knew her in Cuba and throughout her career describe her as appealing to hippies, existentialists and gay people, as she embodied masculine and feminine qualities. An extraordinary woman.

Writer-director Amber Sharp's TV pilot Don't Go features a polysexual assembly of characters in an LA apartment building, echoing Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City but with more grit and less charm. Guinevere Turner is an intersexual character who impregnates her girlfriend while Skyler Cooper is a butch seeking to reconnect with her sister. Plenty of dyke drama marred by amateurish performances but still intriguing.

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