Hot Docs 2014: Before the Last Curtain Falls (Thomas Wallner)

2014_hotdocs_stock_imageHaving its World Premiere this evening at 8:30, at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, this gorgeously shot film is a stirring documentary about performance, love and sexuality.

The center of the film’s focus is a group of aging gay and trans cabaret performers who have gone on tour with their beautifully choreographed stage show, Gardenia.

Now, the tour has returned home for one final performance, in Ghent, Belgium. Using lush cinematography of the stage show, and the nightscape of the city itself as a backdrop, we spend time with each of the members of the show, including Vanessa, Gerrit, Danilo, Richard, Andrea, and Rudy.

Working with choreographer Alain Platel and stage director Frank Van Laecke, they have crafted a stunning performance piece that centers moments of their lives, which the film weaves through with interviews, where we not only get to know the performers through their movement but through their shared stories as well.

Gardenia

Each of them, in their time have remained true to themselves, even though they may have been abused or victims of violence, they continue to strive to be who they are, never giving up hope that they may find that ever elusive goal that all seek, to love and be loved.

There is an equal measure of cynicism and hope in each of them, as they open up to the camera, and let the viewer in, sharing their thoughts as their lives are examined, as we learn who they were, who they are, and the trials and tribulations that took them there.

They share photos from their past, talk about taking hormones, prostitution, and never, ever seeming to lose hope that there would be someone out there that would love them for who they are.

All of this is intercut, with an amazing, virtually silent stage show performance that is simply stunning to watch, and must have been simply breathtaking to see live.

What Wallner has done, with the help of his subjects of course, is frame a wonderfully human story against the a gorgeously shot stage show, that takes us from joy to heartbreak to hope in the course of its 90 minute run.

The camerawork for the shooting of the stage show is simply fantastic, and the way the film itself is put together is tonally perfect. This is a wonderful little film, and I’m glad I had the time to see it. If you get a chance, you should too!

Before the Last Curtain Falls screens again 29th April at 4 at the Lightbox and the 2nd of May at 12:30pm at the lightbox.

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