Posted on Thu 17 Nov by AlexK /
This blog looks at how The Nest - screening friday 18th november at fringe! - defines its own queer reality as a utopia of queer representation in film.
By Michail karatzinis
Cinema has come a long way in the past couple of decades, but where we’ve seen strides regarding thematic, execution and overall variety, has been the queer genre. It hasn’t been that long since queer and LGBTQIA sections have been curated in the largest festivals of the world and it’s truly humbling to see such a wide range of queer film festivals springing up in universities and small towns all around the world (even if funding is still limited, with many - like ours - being entirely volunteer-run). It’s not just the tolerance and acceptance that we’ve reclaimed as people that has gotten us here, the real accomplishment is that queer people have actually been able to claim self-representation and outline their existence in their contemporary world and community instead of being portrayed in a way that blurs the lines between what’s real and a caricature of sorts, further marginalising them as the ‘other’.
“The Nest” really hits home for me in that regard. This group of young queer rebels is taking up the copious task of defining their own reality and experience in a worryingly homophobic society, refusing to be far from the limelight of their city while at the same time trying to find their own truth in a makeshift family that is nothing short of loving. In a ‘coming-off-age’ sort of way, the main character, Bruno, in his search of his brother, finds himself in a welcoming group of teenagers that introduce him to a cluster of genderqueer ideas and erotic openness that clashes with his rigid ex-army exterior while at the same time interacts and broadens his core identity as a young adult trying to find his place in contemporary southern Brazil.
What we initially know is that Bruno’s brother was a queer who fled the conservatism of a family that refused to understand, making him one of many young teenagers who find themselves privy not only to the exclusion from its primary core but also threatened by a world that is not always willing to accept this so-called difference.
Some suggest that liberal government policies may have gotten too far ahead of traditional social mores. The anti-gay violence, they contend, can be traced to Brazil’s culture of machismo and a brand of evangelical Christianity, exported from the United States, that is outspoken in its opposition to homosexuality. 1
Brazil has had a troubling relationship with queer identity and through The Nest we get to see that family rejection doesn’t and should equate a total loss. It’s the epitome of the notion that for queer people, the thought of family is a loose adaptation of the societal construct with the same name. It is the very weight of the idea of family that we see here; it’s not just a simple connection, a point of origin but it’s a relationship that caries a set of roles, responsibilities and gender manifestation all tied to an emotional load that needs tending, the almost innate need of family approval and acceptance.
Still, the family bonds in The Nest are not substandard imitations of the protagonists’ absent brother, but connections with intensity and meaning albeit an underlining laissez-faire attitude towards life. Each episode highlights the performance of Nicolas Vargas (Bruno) which captures the essence of a young man lost in the world. Lost in a family retrospective with the idea of it being a centrifuge where we should feel safe long gone, the only thing that Bruno can feel some sort of affirmation is through the emotional and even erotic contact with the people surrounding him.
Vargas captures this essence always through a gaze which at first appears to be woefully lost, but it does disclose a clear conviction which is the very driving force that eventually allows him to reach the end of his quest. Through these rituals of gender-identity he uncovers the precarity and division which defines the notion of masculinity through the queer experience, a constant journey of self discovery balancing between insecurity and a plethora of uncertain correlations. 2
The struggle for each of the characters in ‘The Nest’, I find, is akin to the struggle which queer artists, filmmakers and creators as a whole had to overcome to finally be able to carve their own genre the way they chose and to a establish a culture of queer self-representation that speaks their subjective truth. And it’s a truth we’ve come to appreciate and be moved by but in no way should it make us complacent.
As we strive to be different we should in no way ignore the things that bind us together with each other and with the rest of the world. ‘The Nest’ is a safe place and it is every safe place, every friendship and bond we’ve ever formed. It is ours to defend.
The Nest screens at Hackney Showroom, at 9:30 PM