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THREE TO SEE: GenreQueer Favorites
by Aster Gilbert, GenreQueer Programmer

Aster here, your friendly neighborhood GenreQueer programmer. I’m coming at you with three incredible recommendations to check out during the 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival.

There are so many amazing films that it can be overwhelming! Luckily, you have me to tell you what to watch! Just kidding, make your own choices, but here are three of my favorite GenreQueer selections.

These films represent the diversity of contemporary queer cinema, from the darkly comedic coming of age tale Tahara, to the exhilarating historical documentary Ahead of the Curve, and the meditative art house stylings of Welcome to the USA.


What’s more is that each of titles is a feature film debut for their filmmakers. My favorite part of film fests is checking out the new filmmakers. So smash that play button and get in on the ground floor with these up-and-coming voices of queer cinema!


Ahead of the Curve
(dir. Jen Rainin, Rivkah Beth Medow)

Curve is the best-selling lesbian lifestyle magazine ever published. It pioneered lesbian visibility politics in an era when mainstream representation of lesbians was predominately white, thin, and conventionally beautiful. Ahead of the Curve tells the story of Curve’s founder, Franco Stevens, who with a handful of maxed-out credit cards and a dream transformed the landscape of lesbian culture and politics. Featuring candid interviews, intimate archival footage, and guest appearances by lesbian royalty Melissa Ethridge and Lea DeLaria, Ahead of the Curve hits that doc sweet spot of informative and entertaining!


This is an ideal selection for all you doc-heads out there and everyone who’s curious about the often-overlooked history of lesbian culture in America.


Be sure to check out The Nightcap from Saturday, October 24 for my conversation with the directors Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow:



(dir. Olivia Peace)

Like beautiful flowers, queer desires blossom where they’re planted, even if that’s a memorial service for a teen suicide. Tahara is a wicked dark comedy that is never cynical, but profoundly moving. It follows two high school besties over the course of a single day at Hebrew School, where the entire class body is subjected to ineffectual grief counseling in the wake of a student’s death. Exploring the pains of growing apart while realizing a burgeoning queer longing, Tahara stands as one of the greatest films of queer high school experience.

Tahara also boasts a distinct visual style with bursts of animation that announces the arrival of a brilliant group of filmmakers and performers. Don’t miss it! You saw it here in Milwaukee first, folks.


And don’t forget to check out The Nightcap from Day 3 (Oct. 17) where the director, writer, and producers discuss how they made Tahara and why. It’s an inspiring conversation that will make you want to grab a camera and make that film you’ve been dreaming about:




Welcome to the USA
(dir. Assel Aushakimova)

One of my favorite films of the year. Welcome to the USA is a contemplative examination of community and belonging. Aliyah is a 36-year-old lesbian banker living in Kazakhstan who plays the Green Card Lottery and wins. Suddenly, she is presented with the dilemma of leaving her home and family to start fresh in the United States, or staying for her needy family and somewhat-cynical group of queer friends. Welcome to the USA shows that some queer experiences are universal: stay connected to your roots or leave them behind for a different life.


What’s so striking about this film is how director Aushakimova handles intense topics with such a delicate touch. You get glimpses of male chauvinism, homophobia, and nationalism, while also seeing the normalcy of day-to-day lesbian life. With a documentary-like gaze and a deceptively simple style that recalls the works of Hong Sang-soo and Abbas Kiarostami, Welcome to the USA is one of the great debuts of world cinema.


Be sure to tune in to The Nightcap tonight (Monday, October 26) for a discussion with director Assel Aushakimova:





For more GenreQueer selections, check out the full lineup here!

Posted by: Tom Fuchs