Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Flare online: Our Dance of Revolution

Phillip Pike's documentary on Toronto's black LGBTQ community feels like a throwback to an era when community, coalition and activism were everyday words in the vocabulary. That Black Lives Matter now thrives on these terms is an interesting note thrown up by the film which covers an enormous amount of ground during its 102 minutes.

Our Dance of Revolution
Pike focuses on a handful of key events and groups such as the foundation of a group house, the AIDS crisis and current conflicts. If some of these feel rushed, there is much to discuss. Interspersed throughout the archive footage, interviews and current-day protests are performances of poetry that give another facet to the unfolding story. The use of the arts in this documentary was something I appreciated: dancing, singing and performing are all important ways for a community to express itself. It reminded me very much of the community I came out in in San Francisco in the early 1990s. As one interviewee says, it's hard to be angry all the time.

A few things I found odd: the drag queen Michelle Ross is shown and lauded but never interviewed; singer Faith Nolan appears repeatedly in a group interview, but is never named or interviewed; an activist called Sherona Hall is mourned, but her death is not explained. Perhaps there is a longer version that clears up these points, but the film celebrates a community forge in struggle but moving forward into its power with passion and determination.

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