What’s Showing Today? Thursday, July 2
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Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini’s documentary Mala Mala is an effervescent portrayal of the unique lives and struggles faced by nine members of the Transgender scene in Puerto Rico. Among them are Ivana Fred, a community leader and activist; Sandy, a sage sex worker looking for more secure employment; Soraya, the seasoned veteran and one of the first Puerto Ricans to legally change her gender on her birth certificate; and Samantha, who halted her transition when black market hormones began affecting her health and relationships. Headlining is April Carrión, young, brash and sort of bratty, who during filming was beginning her stint as a competitor on RuPaul’s Drag Race. April belongs to The Doll House, a drag family that slays on the island’s nightclub circuit and is modeled after New York’s House of Xtravanganza as featured in Paris is Burning.
Mala Mala’s recurring staged shots are unmistakingly elegant and suave, like Alberic’s slo-mo bathtub soap bubble frolic, Sandy’s neon-bathed tour of duty on Santurce’s seedy yet bewitching streets, and Samantha’s rigidly lit dress-up procedure. These sequences shift the pace from engrossingly real depictions of the women’s everyday struggles to an elevated mirage of glamour, teasing out the the parallelisms running between challenging and deconstructing gender binaries and national identity within Puerto Rico, a US territory that is neither state nor a self-governing nation.
Mala Mala’s shortcoming lie in the fact that it glosses over some of its subjects’ lives, particularly Paxx, the only FTM transboi featured in the film, whose search for a like-minded community of trans males offers a unique counterpoint to the other subjects. Mala Mala further glosses over the political context and intricacies of Ivana’s activism and work with the Butterflies Trans Foundation. The filmmakers shoot the group’s historic deposition at a hearing for Bill 238, which passed in 2013 and sought to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The foundation is shown triumphantly waving flags, shaking hands, and posing for photo-ops with Carmen Yulin, San Juan’s Mayor, and other political figures. However, little is disclosed about the aftermath of the bill or what could retroactively be perceived as political pandering to inclusion as well as the lack of adequate responses from authorities for the surge of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes suffered by the island over the past two decades. Since the documentary was finished, much has changed, but there is still a lot of work to be done. For that reason, Mala Mala is a powerful resource for humanizing the trans community and pushing for legitimacy and visibility. —Caroline Gil
- Party Girl (Daisy Von Scherler Mayer). Details. Video. 1995. 94 min. 6:30 pm.
- Taksu (Kiki Sugino ). Details. DCP. 2014. 97 min. 6:00 pm.
- La La La at Rock Bottom (Nobuhiro Yamashita). Details. DCP. 2015. 103 min. 8:00 pm.
- Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal & a Whore (Khavn De La Cruz). Details. DCP. 2014. 73 min. 10:15 pm.
- Mogambo (John Ford). Details. 1953. 116 min. 1:30 pm.
- I’ve Always Loved You (Frank Borzage). Details. 1946. 117 min. 4:30 pm.
- Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl). Details. 1945. 110 min. 7:15 pm.
- Kiss Me Kate (George Sidney). Details. 1953. 109 min. 7:00 pm.
Hatchet to the Head: the Anti-Auteur Films of Álex de la Iglesia at Spectacle
- Perdita Durango. Details. Digital Video. 1997. 121 min. 7:30 pm.
- Acción Mutante. Details. Digital Video. 1993. 90 min. 10:00 pm.
A Poem Is a Naked Person (Les Blank) at Film Forum. Details. Digital. 1974/2015. 90 min. 12:30, 2:40, 4:50, 7:15 and 9:20 pm.
The Third Man (Carol Reed) at Film Forum. Details. DCP. 1949. 93 min. 12:30, 2:35, 4:40, 7:00 and 9:10 pm.
The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro) at Film Society of Lincoln Center. Details. DCP. 2014. 70 min. 1:30, 3:00, 4:30, 6:00, 7:30, and 9:00 pm.
The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle) at Film Society of Lincoln Center. Details. DCP. 2015. 89 min. 1:15, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15, and 9:15 pm.
Mala Mala (Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles) at IFC Center. Details. Filmmakers in attendance at 7:15 pm. 2015. 87 min. 12:55, 2:50, 7:15, and 9:45 pm.
- Wael Shawky “Cabaret Crusades” at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens. $10 general/$5 students & seniors/under 16 free. By donation on Mondays. Closed Tuesday/Wednesday. Closes August 31.
- IM Heung-soon “Reincarnation” at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens. $10 general/$5 students & seniors/under 16 free. By donation on Mondays. Closed Tuesday/Wednesday. Closes August 24.
- Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys “Fine Arts” at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens. $10 general/$5 students & seniors/under 16 free. By donation on Mondays. Closed Tuesday/Wednesday. Closes August 31.
- Halil Altindere “Wonderland” at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens. $10 general/$5 students & seniors/under 16 free. By donation on Mondays. Closed Tuesday/Wednesday. Closes August 31.
- View all exhibitions at Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens. $12 general/$9 students and seniors/$6 ages 3 to 18. Free admission Friday 4-8 pm. Closed Monday.
- Maria Nordman “FILMROOM EAT 1967-PRESENT” and “Standing Picutres” at Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57 Street. Open Monday-Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closes July 31.
- Michael Smith “Excuse me!?!…I’m looking for the ‘Fountain of Youth’” at Greene Naftali, 508 West 26 Street. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closes August 14.
- Bruce Conner at Paula Cooper Gallery, 521 West 21 Street. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closes June 26.
- “The Daily Show” at Bureau, 178 Norfolk Street. Open Tuesday-Friday, noon to 8:00 pm. Closes July 31.
- Ada Karczmarczyk “Way to Conversion: videos 2009-2014″ at Postmasters, 54 Franklin Street. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closes July 11.
- Eddo Stern “Vietnam Romance” at Postmasters, 54 Franklin Street. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closes July 11.
- Faith Holland “TECHNOPHILIA” at TRANSFER, 1030 Metropolitan Avenue. Open Saturday, 2:00 to 6:00 pm. Closes July 11.
- Abby Lloyd “A Slight Touch” at Cleopatra’s, 110 Meserole Avenue. Open Sunday, noon to 6:00 pm and Monday, 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Closes July 27.
- Kevin Reuning “source material” at Microscope Gallery, 1329 Willoughby Avenue #2B. Open Thursday-Monday, 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Closes July 5.