“Film is a visceral art form and good films will often spark interest and discussion” advised Guyana born Michelle Mohabeer, one of the featured directors of the films being screened as part of SASOD's film festival at the Sidewalk Cafe. Intense discussion was sparked during the first three days of the film Festival. Under the theme Painting the Spectrum : A celebration of love, the programme presents different films of different sexualities. The film My Beautiful Laundrette introduced ideas of race relations, economic stereotyping and cultural clashes around a love story of a man of Pakistani origins and a fascist skinhead in 1980's London. Some members of the audience felt that the film did not deal with issues on gay and lesbian relationships, but more on racism and class differences. Two women in the audience said they did not know that “..anti men fell in love that way”, and they appreciated that same sex attraction was not only about sex, but could also involve love. One member of the audience admitted that though he has no problem with gay or lesbian people, the scenes of the two men together were unnerving while another man thought that the film was not activist enough in challenging negative perceptions of gay and lesbian people.
Tuesday's film was Nicole Conn's “little man” . This is a biographical documentary of Nicole and her partner Gwen's journey through the birthing of their second child with a surrogate mother. The pregnancy was risky and the couple had fought against a choice of aborting the pregnancy. The “little man” Nicholas was born prematurely, and with several complications which required some surgery. The film deals with the family's coping through the first two years and nine months of Nicholas' life. One woman walked out during the film , saying that the medical scenes of the surgery on the baby were too graphic and that she could not cope with the intense drama of the documentary. Two men also walked out during the same scenes. When the film ended, most members of the audience agreed that the film was good, while two persons thought it was long and boring. The greatest challenge to the group was confronting the issue of abortion, some people during the story felt that the potentially disabled baby should have been aborted, and then at the end of the film changed that view after seeing the success. There was discussion on how much money should be spent to keep a sick child alive, and whether Guyana should invest in that technology to provide those services for free. One man said he was surprised that the film was about the little man and not 'about lesbianism'. He also admitted that a persons sexual orientation had no bearing on their ability to be a good parent. Most people said the story was not what they expected to see at a film festival exploring aspects of gay and lesbian love.
Wednesday's showing When Night is Falling was a love story between two women, one of whom is engaged to be married to a man. This story had a happy ending, and the audience were pleasantly satiated by the film and could not bother with any intense discussion. One man indicated that the film suggested that sexuality is fluid, and that people should be brave enough to ask what their partners are feeling. Another man indicated that the film's message for him was that people regardless of their sexual orientation are worthy just as everyone else of a normal life and right to love, respect and dignity. He however felt that sexual orientation should not be a fundamental human right.
A 56 year old woman, from the East Coast said that the film festival must continue so as to raise consciousness in Guyana. SASOD is encouraged by the response, and with Sidewalk and 3HCD & Video club, the festival contines on Monday October 10th with Deepa Mehta's Fire from India. Tuesday's showing is a comedy “ Touch of Pink and then on Wednesday, Guyana born Michelle Mohabeer's Coconut/Cane and Cutlass, Child-Play, and Mohammed Camara's Dakan will be screened.
SASOD – http://www.geocities.com/sasod_guyana