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The Gay Berliner: Xpose yourself

Walter Crasshole strips Xposed Queer Film Festival down to the essentials. Catch the fest May 24-27 at Moviemento.

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Walter Crasshole strips Xposed Queer Film Festival down to the essentials.

If the X in Xposed doesn’t stand for eXplicit – and it does sometimes – it certainly stands for eXperimental, or at least adventurous. And for a lucky 13th time, it returns to offer up a serving of queer film far off the beaten path, but all the tastier for it. For four days (May 24-27) at Moviemento, travel that path through a selection of LGBTQ* features, shorts, documentaries, discussions and parties, all leading to The Lolly Awards.

Discoveries abound. Even I stumbled upon an auteur I’d never heard of: Bulgarian-born Austrian Mara Mattuschka. Her 2018 film Phaidros, runs as the feature opener for this year, and plays like the long lost New Queer Cinema feature we never saw. Hitting notes of Derek Jarmen and early Todd Haynes, Mattuschka’s film is a journey through the dramatic underbelly of Vienna’s theatre and nightlife scene, following Emil – a dead ringer for My Beautiful Laundrette-era Daniel Day Lewis – and his barbed relationship with veteran actor Werner Maria Straus.

Mattuschka’s no newcomer. Like fellow Austrian artist last year, Valie Export, Mattuschka receives the “Experience” treatment at Kottbusser Tor’s Aquarium and with a filmography stretching back to 1983, there’s plenty to Xperience.

For a different kind of feature, Drew Lint’s Canadian-German production M/M, dissects identity and obsession in a tale of two young gay men in modern Berlin who look exactly like each other (not exactly a far-out fantasy). How far can love, or obsession, take you before you consume and ultimately destroy each other?

Two documentaries this year take playful approaches to serious subjects. Daisy Asquith’s Queerama traces the history of homosexuality from Oscar Wilde through today, using nothing but BFI film footage and a killer soundtrack of John Grant, Hercules & the Love Affair and Goldfrapp. “Documentary” curiosity Terror Nullius by Soda Jerk is a patchwork of film clips exploring Australia’s colonial history in a much less linear and more in your face manner than the former. With minimal knowledge of Australian pop-culture and history, those not from down under should also immensely enjoy it. As a bonus doc for those with Berlinale blues, Bixa Travesty (“Tranny Fag”), about devastatingly powerful performer Linn de Quebrada and Teddy documentary winner of 2018, also screens.

Shorts have always played an important role in the Xposed agenda (the original fest was dedicated to them) and this year shorts come in all sizes and volumes. Case in point, Julia Fuhr Mann’s “Riot Not Diet” is a utopian, empowering vision of fat women in Germany today, while Olivia Kastebring’s “Juck [Thrust]” focuses on a movement of women in Sweden pushing power out of their pelvic regions. Both are in the Opening Night Shorts Program.

There’s much more on offer than I can thrust into this column, so be sure to go down and check it out yourself. And if anyone tells you to Xpose yourself in May, take it as a hearty recommendation. See you there!

XPOSED Queer Film Festival, May 24-27 | Moviemento, Kreuzberg, see full programme at xposedfilmfestival.com