Modern and metaphor steals international shorts show

The 18-minute short follows Alex, a boy who shows the subtle signs of internal struggle that LGBTQ audiences relate to.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The 18-minute short follows Alex, a boy who shows the subtle signs of internal struggle that LGBTQ audiences relate to.

Lilli Hime , Writer

In its 31st annual run, the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival (aGLIFF), formerly known as Austin’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, featured a strong lineup of seven international shorts. While the LGBTQ representation limited exclusively to gay and transgender men, the set did well by including of a variety of countries and languages, from the Netherlands to Estonia to Tunisia.

It was a refusal to adhere to reality that set two films above the rest: director Reinhout Hellenthal’s “Something About Alex” and director Chintis Lundgren’s “Mandivald.”

In “Something About Alex,” the 18-minute short follows Alex, a seemingly distant boy who displays the subtle signs of internal struggle that LGBTQ audiences can relate to throughout his day.

The film is riddled with moments of Alex’s tangible discomfort, which not only makes the audience hypersensitive to his cause, but curious as to what identity he is grappling with.

The crowning jewel that pulls this film together is its climax, in which Alex’s mother calls him Alexandra in a moment of rage. She then slaps him across the face and, in that split second, the male Alex we’ve seen throughout the film is converted to a female Alex.

The film then flashes back to all of the uncomfortable moments, replacing female Alex in all of them.

Up until that point, the ambiguity of how Alex identified with the LGBTQ community had allowed the audience to place their own interpretations on him. Different identities within the community may easily have read his moments of discomfort and interpret it with their own experience because they were so starkly relatable.

And when the climax reveals Alex as transgender, it doesn’t make those other conjectures wrong; it just deepens the appreciation of the film as it not only gave the audience their own experience, but it also gave them the transgender male experience.

The climax continues as female Alex runs out of the house into the neighboring field and faces her male counterpart, where he lets out raw yells of anger and frustration. The physical stage presence of a girl and a boy as physically separate beings but within the same identity is a powerful representation of the transgender experience and the separation between your true gender identity and the gender the world sees you as.

Where “Something About Alex” excels is in its breaks with reality, “Manivald’s” big win is not only its humor but its meta dialogue.

The film features Manivald, a fox son in his 30’s who still lives with his mom (she’s a fox, too) and features their encounter with the sexy maintenance fox, Toomas. Manivald’s combination of awkwardness, fantasy and sexual attraction to Toomas provides the short plenty of humor.

To be honest, this short is absurd. And it’s supposed to be. The absurdity of the obvious gay content communicated through childish fox cartoons and awkward humor points out the real life absurdity of how gay content is so censored and taboo.