Moonlight is one of the most talked about films of last year and got awarded as the best motion picture – drama at the Golden Globes. What‘s unusual about it is that it chronicles the life of a young gay black man from childhood to adulthood. The film will have it‘s premier in Iceland today Friday, January the 20th at Bíó Paradís and Ása Baldursdóttir, Program director, urges all movie lovers to come and see it.
“Moonlight is a groundbreaking film, it‘s not a given that films that tackle stories of queer people get awarded,“ says Ása Baldursdóttir, Program director at Bíó Paradís. “The director of Moonlight spent eight years making it, his last film before that came out in 2008, and he obviously made a huge effort to conway the characters and the feeling of the story. It has resulted in one of the best film of later years, a social documentary some would say, a story about American reality told in a poetic and highly beautiful way. It‘s no wonder that Moonlight got awarded the Golden Globe as best motion picture – drama.“
Moonlight received universal acclaim upon its release and was regarded as one of the best films of 2016, with critics praising the acting, direction, screenplay, cinematography, subject matter and score. It got six Globe nominations this year and has now received four nominations at The Bafta Awards.
The film is based on the critically acclaimed play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue and tells the story of a black gay man. Are gays not viewed as a kind of taboo in the masculine black culture?
“Yes, it is a taboo. But the fight for human rights is about eliminating taboos with education and when the stories of all kinds of people are a part of the culture we have won. When a film like Moonlight gets awarded and is chosen by critics as one of the best films of the year it shows us that we are well underway in eliminating that taboo.“
Moonlight has been chritisised by some for not having any sex scenes. Does Ása think that queer sex scenes are disturbing for the general audience?
“Moonlight does not need sex scenes. Good stories do not need to be a literal description of life. It‘s the developed imagery that the viewer enjoys when watching love/sex scenes in movies. And why should queer sex scenes be disturbing? All sex scenes can be disturbing for some of the audience, I think. But I believe that everyone who has seen Moonlight would agree that it has no need for sex scenes, even though some might say that the film would make more of a statement if they were included.“
Bíó Paradís has been showing a lot of films about the lifes of queer people lately. Is that a concious decision from the board of Bíó Paradís to promote that issue?
„Yes, it‘s a concious decision,“ Ása says with determination. “We want to be very critical of the subject of the films we choose for screening. For example we have followed the Bechdel test in choosing films, not to change the fact that female characters are not prominent in the stories films tell, but to
point out the discrepancy in the movie industry. That so few films can pass the Bedchel test tells us more about the movie industry than how we choose the films we show. We are also keen to show films that tackle the queer culture and of course we try to find as many of them as we can find to show here at Bíó Paradís, the first and only arthouse filmtheatre in Iceland.“
“When a film like Moonlight … is chosen as one of the best films of the year it shows us that we are well underway in eliminating a taboo.“
After Moonlight what queer films are scheduled to be shown at Bíó Paradís?
“We are very happy and excited for the Stockfish – Film Festival in Reykjavík that will be held from Februrary the 23rd to March the 5th. We have invited the director Alain Guiraudie to the festival and will be showing his latest film Staying Veritcal. I don’t know how to describe that film other than to say that when the audience of the film leave the theatre you‘re likely to hear them say: I‘ve never seen this in a movie before. And it‘s a gay film!“
The premier of Moonlight is tonight and Ása is very excited about it. “We can hardly wait to show people this wonderful movie and I urge everyone who loves good films to come and see it in Bíó Paradís.“