More Reviews Riot Acts

More Reviews – Riot Acts

“‘Riot Acts’ beautifully traces the meaning of ‘transition’ in terms of bodies, music, voice, harmony, humor and grace. This is a (literally) moving account of the presence and impact of gender variant musicians upon a variety of music scenes and genres and it exposes audiences both to the gendering of music but also to the musicality of gender. A must see film!”Jack Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity and In a Queer Time and Place. USC

“As the corporate music business continues its long slow slide toward cultural oblivion, it’s refreshing to know that the DIY ethic continues to flourish among trans artists in local clubs, cabarets, and dance halls. This fascinating and touching film introduces the viewer to a aspect of the music scene that they may not have previously encountered, or at least known that they have encountered, partly because its defining features are fluid and not always evident to an audience. Riot Acts smartly mixes analysis of transgender politics with an eclectic array of fantastic music!” Tom Shevory, Professor of Politics, Ithaca College, Author of Notorious HIV: The Media Spectacle of Nushawn William

“At a time when even Hollywood A-listers seem to want a don a wig and belt out a number, Madsen Minax has brought us the real story behind today’s trans and genderqueer musicians. With candid interviews and explosive performance footage, ‘Riot Acts’ is engrossing from start to finish. If all the world’s a stage, these artists are truly making it their own.” Tavia Nyong’o, Professor, NYU Tisch School for the Arts

“Finally, a documentary about transgender people that highlights their talents, interests, and spirit, rather than focusing on them solely as political beings. This gender bending rock and roll fusion not only entertains, but also gives a backstage glimpse into the artistic and personal lives of working musicians who are trailblazers in their own right. I challenge anyone to watch this film and not walk away with at least one new favorite band.” Tracy Nectoux, Editor,, Reviews Editor for the GLBT Round Table newsletter of the American Library Association; librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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More Reviews She’s A Boy I Knew

More Reviews – She’s A Boy I Knew

“Rarely does a film live up to its promotional tagline. She’s a Boy I Knew guarantees to be “…the most compelling DIY, gender bending, feel good film directed by a transsexual you’ve seen all year!” And in this case, I can’t agree more.”Sarah Caufield, CJSF Radio

“A personal story of transexuality, becomes a tribute to family and in the truest sense, unconditional love.”Bethina Abrahams,

“Unique among the slew of documentaries on changing one’s gender, this film blends personal interviews with gorgeous animation, offering a rich and complex portrait of the effects transitioning has not just on the individual, but those around her.”<strong>Katharine Setzer, image+nation Film Festival

“I loved ‘She’s a Boy I Knew’ – made with loving care, it dares to reveal an inner journey without restraint. Beautifully executed, profoundly insightful. I found myself appreciating it as a mother, a friend, a sister and a filmmaker.”Anne Wheeler, Better Than Chocolate

“If you want to see genders, identities and sexualities with an entirely new set of eyes, then She’s a Boy I Knew is absolutely mandatory viewing. A breakthrough documentary of the transgender movement, She’s a Boy I Knew goes where no film on this topic has dared to go before: the complex politics and emotions of the intricate, delicate web of family, friends, lovers and community. It’s an eye-opening, engrossing odyssey through battles with the health care system, the physical challenges of surgeries, and the psychological pain of reclaiming one’s self and one’s family. Adroit, sharp, and agile in its hybrid cinematic style, She’s a Boy I Knew invites us into not only a life in transition but into activism. It’s a family melodrama in the best and most political sense of the genre: it’s insistent that the intense contradictions between public and private, family and self, biological gender and sexual identities propel out into a larger world of connecting with others to move onwards to new lives and renewed depths!”Patricia R. Zimmermann, author, States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies and Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film, and coeditor of Mining the Home Movie

“With wit, intelligence, and emotional grace, She’s a Boy I Once Knew traces the journey of film-maker Gwen Haworth as she comes out to her family as transgender and transitions from loving husband and only son Steven into Gwen. This is a moving story of self-discovery and individual becoming. But it is also far more than that. Haworth joins autobiographical narrative and home movies from childhood to interviews with friends and family. These creative juxtapositions open the film up beyond an individual story of change. We learn how Steven’s transition into Gwen effects profound and sometimes painful transformations for the film-maker’s circle of intimate others (Steven’s wife, father, mother, two sisters, and best friend), who mourn Steven even as they lovingly welcome Gwen. One of the real strengths of She’s a Boy I Once Knew is its ability not to judge any of its interview subjects. Another is its richly layered depiction of the social matrix within which gendered being unfolds, changes, becomes.”Ann Pellegrini, Director, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, New York University

“She’s a Boy I Knew (Outcast Films): Gwen Haworth’s autobiographical documentary is one of the most tender, witty, forthright and accomplished films to portray the experiences of a trans lesbian. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, film school grad Haworth offers her life as a complex intertext, Sandy Stone-style. Praxis-savvy, she follows Stone’s imperative to fellow trans people to “take responsibility for all their history” and to “write oneself into the discourse by which one has been written.” The film draws from a deep well of family home movies, photographs, sound recordings, quirky animated clips, personal voiceover and—most effectively—interviews with the family members and friends who supported Gwen through her transition from hetero man to sexy dyke. Never didactic, sensationalistic, or simplistic, Haworth carefully places her self-narrated story of wanting to change her gender identity from the age of 4 (and swallowing this feeling long into adulthood), alongside the expressions of hurt, misunderstanding, anger, insight and pure love that her loved ones expose to the camera. Most touching and emotionally difficult are the segments with Haworth’s ex-wife, Malgosia, who stayed with Gwen for years after the transition yet realized she was no longer sexually attracted to her. We experience Gwen’s utter heartbreak during their divorce. Importantly, the film makes clear the distinctions between sexuality and gender identity. In this case, Gwen remains as hot for women as Steven was. She also realizes she’s not comfortable living as a traditional girly girl. She identifies more with queer feminist subculture and comes into her own as a punk-inspired lesbian who occasionally throws on army boots. Watching this charming film feels like befriending someone you really want to know and being intimately welcomed into her life—her whole life.”
Candace Moore, Curve

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More Reviews Sex in an Epidemic

More Reviews – Sex in an Epidemic

“‘Sex in an Epidemic’ makes a crucial contribution to our knowledge about the emergence and subsequent explosion of AIDS in the US and the many forms of activism it engendered. This beautifully crafted documentary, as moving as it is intelligent, is a must-have addition to our libraries and classrooms. Jean Carlomusto’s important film tracks a history of AIDS panic and AIDS activism that is compelling and provocative, exactly the kind of work my students are eager to engage. I immediately plan to add it to the syllabus for my courses at USC. There is a new generation of young people who are hungry for this history in all its emotional and political complexity.The film brilliantly incorporates archival media footage and visual images from the earliest days of AIDS with astute and inspiring commentary from several generations of AIDS activists. I can’t wait to share this documentary with my students!” David Román, Professor, Department of English and American Studies, USC – Author of Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, & AIDS

“’Sex in an Epidemic’ explores the social and cultural history of HIV/AIDS in the US and its impact on the gay community, linking the emergence of the disease in the early 1980s to contemporary sex education approaches. Including interview footage from frontline gay activists and news reports from the early 80s through the late 2000s, this is a powerful and urgent look into the political controversies surrounding AIDS education. An early narrator explains that he wants people now to know what it was like then – the film succeeds admirably in that regard, reminding us both of the panic surrounding AIDS in its early days as well as our nation’s ongoing ambivalence about sex education. Offering a compelling social justice argument throughout, this film is perfect for classroom use.” C. Lee Harrington, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Affiliate, Women’s Studies Program, Department of Sociology & Gerontology, Miami University

“‘Sex in an Epidemic’ acts as an important primer on the past three decades of the AIDS crisis and the activism it has prompted. Made by Jean Carlomusto, long intimately involved on the front lines of AIDS activism and documentation, this video reminds viewers of the early uncertainty and panic that surrounded the disease’s mysterious symptoms, the invention of safer sex, and the controversies surrounding sex education and policy reform. Especially for younger viewers who were born after AIDS already existed, this video offers essential lessons in a history that is too often obscured. The film also alerts us to more recent efforts to influence local policy change and demand national and international strategies to continue battling the epidemic.”
Lucas Hilderbrand, Professor, University of California-Irvine

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More Reviews Still Around

More Reviews – Still Around

“‘Still Around’ demonstrates that although HIV/AIDS has been thriving for over 30 years now, the creative spirit and communal resilience that characterizes San Francisco’s response to AIDS is still around too. The 15 short films–each in their own distinct style and tone—together forge a unified collective that showcases the role that the arts must continue to play as we fight against AIDS. From paying tribute to the extraordinary work of San Francisco General Hospital WARD 86, the country’s oldest HIV/AIDS care unit, to inviting us into an intimate subcultural ritual of love and healing commemorating one person’s HIV-positive anniversary, to reminding us of the simple beauty in pronouncing oneself gay and alive amidst a history of death and dying, these bold and beautiful short films merit our viewing.

This is a film for all people interested in how the arts make a difference in our lives, and how people, in this case the expansive and diverse people of the great city of San Francisco, work together to keep their communities alive and empowered. This wonderful collection deserves to be housed in our campus libraries, screened at our film festivals, and circulated among our own various communities.” David Román, Professor of English and American Studies, University of Southern California, author of ACTS of INTERVENTION: Performance, Gay Culture and AIDS, and O SOLO HOMO: The New Queer Performance.

“While it is imperative for us to know our history, it is almost more vital that we see our now, given how AIDS has become so devastatingly absent in our images and politics but not our communities and bodies. ‘Still Around’ insists that AIDS is here and now: with creativity, insight, urgency, and poetry. Over thirty years into this epidemic, this films is a much needed political and artistic intervention that connects us to our past while picturing our complex and ever changing present.

Given the spate of new films focusing upon the history of ACTUP/AIDS activism circa and a new-found fascination for the now old new queer cinema that was borne from AIDS’ sorrow, anger, and community, it is a pleasure to get to also see a new film, ‘Still Around,’ that both looks at the legacy of AIDS without the safety and nostalgia of distance. A beautiful cultural production with sharp political commentary and profound personal expression ‘Still Around’ links fifteen original, diverse shorts together and reminds us that AIDS is a living, breathing phenomenon of our now.” Alexandra Juhasz, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, Pitzer College, or AIDS TV: Identity, Communtiy and Alternative Video (Duke 1995)

“The shorts collection ‘Still Around’ admonishes us that despite improved treatment AIDS and its social effects have not gone away, but also that those living with the disease continue to live vital and complicated lives–they are ‘still around’. Ranging from abstract dance and poetry to tours of the clinical and social spaces, ‘Still Around’ provides glimpses into the everyday challenges and hopeful solutions crafted by the diverse people engaged in the epidemic. The shorts have uniformly high production values and the editors provide thoughtful and visually unified transitions that create an arc through the many different ways filmmakers and subjects chose to represent their points of view. The individual pieces stand alone as learning texts, and the whole collection works well as a kaleidoscope of historical and contemporary viewpoints on the social costs of an epidemic.” Cindy Patton, Professor of Sociology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Canada

“In an era when HIV/AIDS is so often marginalized from public discourse or considered a matter of a historical crisis now past, ‘Still Around’ presents a powerful collection of testimonies about living with HIV/AIDS in the fourth decade of the pandemic. Through their frank honesty and clear-sighted courage, the film’s diverse witnesses share remarkable stories of hope, survival and community. Some of the most powerful moments in the film occur when people living with HIV/AIDS come together with family members, friends and their community to forge genuine opportunities to bear witness to the complex challenges and struggles of their lives. In particular, the film attends to the imperative to speak across the generations impacted by the pandemic. The impressive diversity of perspectives in this short film collection makes Still Around a perfect teaching tool for a wide range of courses, from public health to psychology to communication.” Roger Hallas, Associate Professor of English, Co-Director of LGBT Studies, Syracuse University, Author of Reframing Bodies: AIDS, Bearing Witness and the Queer Moving Image

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More Reviews Gut Renovation


More Reviews – Gut Renovation

“Gentrification is a story known in nearly every large U.S. urban area, but this time it is told from a more personal perspective.  The filmmaker communicates her sadness and anger at the changes that occur around her, using both ambush and undercover interviews with real estate developers and buyers.”  Linda Frederikson, Washington State University Read the full review here

“‘Gut Renovation’ gives students the impetus to look at—and mark, research, explore, and fight for—their own environment. The film makes personal the larger forces of urban development, gentrification and demographic changes and, in doing so, not only shows the profound effects of these structural changes but also how people can intervene in them.” Julia Foulkes, Associate Professor, The New School

“‘Gut Renovation’ provides a personal account of the demolition and the resulting physical, social, and economic changes in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Filmed over a five-year period, the film chronicles the rapid change of Williamsburg from a working-class industrial neighborhood to a neighborhood of residential condominiums catering to upper income households. Contrary to policymakers’ descriptions of the former neighborhood as moribund, the film highlights the displacement of businesses from the formerly vibrant industrial neighborhood. In doing so the filmmaker calls into question public policies that hastened real estate development in Williamsburg. This film is of interest to urban planners, policy makers, and urban designers involved in the shaping of the built environment.” Suzanne Lanyi Charles, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Northeastern University

“‘Gut Renovation’ is an ideal accompaniment for any course that discusses the costs of gentrification and the impact of growing inequalities on the middle classes as well as the poor…As Friedrich documents the process of her own eviction, we learn more than any treatise could tell us about the political and economic underpinnings of gentrification and the emotional costs of displacement.” Ida Susser, Professor, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center

“‘Gut Renovation’ ignites and engages college audiences. Like Jane Jacobs, Friedrich surveys her neighborhood from her apartment window, except that in Friedrich’s case, what she sees from her Williamsburg, Brooklyn window makes her “crazy angry.” While watching the film, student audiences are torn. Young people recognize the injustices of gentrification, and want to better understand and address its specific causes, yet they also feel the pull of the hip condominium world that has pushed out artists and homegrown business. Friedrich’s personal approach frames the problem with humor, outrage, and panic. Ultimately, students experience the facelessness of Friedrich’s enemy. They leave wanting to know more.” Alison Isenberg, Professor of History and Co-Director of the Urban Studies Program at Princeton University; Past President, Society for American City and Regional Planning History

“Even the “designer dogs” are not immune when Su Friedrich levels her gaze at the causes and effects of rapid gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, her longtime home. The result is a visceral and intensely personal encounter with the social, psychological, and physical impacts of neighborhood change. Acerbic, insightful, and moving, ‘Gut Renovation’ is required viewing for everyone who cares about the future of cities. City planners, architects, urban designers, urban historians and sociologists will all find the film immensely provocative and rewarding.”Elihu Rubin, Assistant Professor of Urbanism at the Yale School of Architecture

“This emotional, sardonic, sometimes funny, often sad story of Su Friedrich’s experience in Williamsburg is a detailed accounting of how gentrification happens, building by building. The film captures much of what was great about Williamsburg and how much was lost in the hyper-gentrified “Condoburg” of the Bloomberg era.This detailed look at the nitty gritty of gentrification would be useful in any class about gentrification in the city, whether it be urban geography, history, sociology, or anthropology. I think this would be a particularly useful film for students in real estate as well.” Winifred Curran, Associate Professor Department of Geography DePaul University

“…told in all its absurdity by a victim of the very cycle of creative destruction she helped set into motion… [‘Gut Renovation’] reveals the many complexities and contradictions in elite America’s rediscovery of the urban…Friedrich is compelling as she chronicles the wholesale destruction of her community and home.” Thomas J. Campanella, Associate Professor, Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Planning 

“Ms. Friedrich is fighting mad. She is a provocateur…The images of Williamsburg in the wake of a gold rush are not attractive. As pictured by Ms. Friedrich, who photographed the movie, it is a mostly ugly architectural mishmash executed without an overall vision, beyon the prospect for developers of making as much money as quickly as possible.” Stephen Holden, The New York Times Read the full review here

“There is nothing subtle about ‘Gut Renovation,’ Su Friedrich’s latest documentary. She’s pissed and she wants you to know it.” Sarah Goodyear, The Atlantic Read the full review here

“On one hand, the movie mourns the loss of a community. On the other, however, it asks how this or any community is defined, who makes and misses it, and how it might be remembered.” Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters Read the full review here

“Unapologetically personal, ‘Gut Renovation’ is a singular but incredibly meaningful perspective on a faceless, multifaceted phenomenon.” Bryan Koenig, The Brooklyn Ink Read the full review here

“The film is at once a documentary about 21st century urbanism and an extremely intimate look at how the unique composition of a neighborhood—residents, business owners, history—can be wiped away by gentrification…”Dante A. Ciampaglia, Architectural Record Read the full review here

“…a searing and illuminating documentary on condo development left largely unchecked.” Serafin LaRiviere, Daily Xtra Canada Gay News Read the full review here

Video Interview: “Artists Used to Live Here” – Blouin ArtInfo

“…a scathing portrait of one neighborhood’s demolition and transformation.” Jason Andrew, Bushwick Daily Read the full review here

“If Friedrich’s outrage is palpable in person, it comes across clearly and cogently in the film.” Gary M. Kramer, Gay City News Read the full review here

“It is a tone poem, a subjective and emotional distillation of anger and grief.”Susanna Locascio, Hammer to Nail Read the full review here

“‘Gut Renovation’ is Friedrich’s cri de coeur that charts the dissolution of her Williamsburg neighborhood…” David Fear, Time Out NY Read the full review here

“‘Gut Renovation’ chronicles the rapid transformation of Williamsburg as well as Friedrich’s memories of a place she can no longer call home.” Cynthia Lugo, Brooklyn Rail Read the full review here

“…all are subjected to Friedrich’s sarcastic gaze…”Claudia Steinberg, BOMB Magazine Read the full review here

“…takes a hard look at the changes that Williamsburg has undergone since the implementation of new zoning laws in 2005.” Kristin Iversen, The L Magazine Read the full review here

“The movie gives an angry and uniquely personal look at how rapidly Williamsburg went from being an industrial zone and an affordable artistic and ethnic community to ‘Condoburg,’ as Friedrich calls it…” Cea Weaver, The Surreal Estate Read the full review here

“Su Friedrich…has made the most salient and personal film about Brooklyn’s ever-changing face since Hal Ashby’s The Landlord appeared in theaters some 43 years ago. ‘Gut Renovation’ is bound to polarize audiences. It’s a polemical howl in the night, a desperately angry and sidesplittingly funny look at one oh-so-mythologized neighborhood’s transformation…[It’s] a film essay that is of a piece with the work of heady French names like Godard and Varda.” Brandon Harris, Filmmaker Magazine
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More Reviews Shored Up

More Reviews – Shored Up

“The Risky Business of Building on Sand” Maureen Nandini MitraEarth Island Journal  Read the full review here

“Ben Kalina’s ‘Shored Up’ is a powerful and profound treatment of climate change as both a global and local issue. Its careful and penetrating analysis of the impacts of rising seas on local beach communities, and the complex political and economic issues that are emerging as a result, move us beyond sobering predictions about the future to a better understanding of the specific problems and challenges that are already emerging as a result of climate change. The film is professionally-produced and highly entertaining, featuring an engaging soundtrack and interviews with a wide range of relevant individuals, from people devastated by Hurricane Sandy to climate scientists, local politicians, and even surfers. The film thus manages to be both educational and entertaining. Highly Recommended.” Ben Redekop, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Leadership and American Studies, Christopher Newport University.

“The film touches on, but does not dwell over, the troubled political fault lines that so quickly polarize many environmental debates.  The director provides ample space for both sides of the argument to be heard and helps the viewer to understand the many facets of this debate while coming to their own conclusions. ” Scott Mackenzie, Global Policy Review

“‘Shored Up’ leaves no sand grain unturned; every perspective is brought together to capture wisdom and ironic lessons as New Jersey and North Carolina grapple with accelerating sea level rise before and after Hurricane Sandy. It is a gripping tale about human nature and how we try to prevail over the tremendous forces of nature that can be episodic and terrifying at times. ‘Shored Up’ portrays how all of us, even taxpayers who live far away from the U.S. East Coast, are a part of this story. At the heart of the film are the wise and insightful comments by surfers, artists, mayors, scientists, and coastal residents. Understanding the causes of sea level rise presents challenges for deciding long-term solutions while communities struggle with short-term ‘fixes’ for coastal erosion and storm surges of today.” Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists

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