Daniel (GFF 2023)

What does it mean to be queer in a religious town? That’s the question at the heart of Polish drama Daniel, originally titled All Our Fears, and one that is handled with the respect that such a topic deserves. A fictionalised account of gay catholic activist Daniel Rycharsti’s life, it follows him as he tries to organise the way of the cross for his recently deceased lesbian friend Jagoda. This ceremony honours the dead by paralleling Jesus’ final journey to Calvary, as loved ones carry a large wooden cross, however the town is unwilling to do this for her. This is both because she was a lesbian and because she took her own life…both of which are seen as sins.

This isn’t a quiet or subtle feeling held by the townsfolk either as several of them are openly hostile. They casually throw slurs around, force queer people to stand in a seperate group at the funeral, rev motorbikes at them and physically assault them. It’s actions like this that drove Jagoda to take her own life which, one could argue, makes the town culpable for her death. In a particularly moving scene, Daniel tells the local priest exactly this and further adds that nobody is free of sin. The priest reluctantly agrees before continuing to draw the line at suicide. Whilst deeply moving, this scene is also immensely infuriating as the priest jumps through as many hoops as possible to deny her a basic act of respect because of who she was and what she did.

This hatred is balanced by brief moments of levity, as life often is. Daniel has a boyfriend who he adores, even if they have to be secretive and the boyfriend runs back into the closet. Daniel’s mother, who he lives with because his mum is out of the picture and his dad ignores him, is wholeheartedly supportive. Many of the film’s most charming moments come in the relationship between these two, especially when she drives off a group of young adults on motorbikes hurling slurs. Daniel’s relationship with the museum curator is also very sweet as they can have drought moments but very clearly love each other. Moments like these don’t stop the pain of living a queer life when nobody wants you to, but they can at least numb it.The original title All Our Fears suits the film more than simply Daniel. This story presents openly and honestly the real fears that queer people must process, regardless of how religious their hometown is. Jagoda could be anyone in this community. All the attacks and the hatred spread fear, but the biggest fear is that lives can be lost because of them. The world needs films like this and people like Daniel.

Apollo 13

On the 11th of April 1970, the Apollo 13 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Carrying American astronauts Jim Lovel, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert, this was to be the third rocket to land on the surface of The Moon. Two days later, an oxygen tank exploded after a routine stir, crippling the craft and putting the astronauts’ lives at risk, changing their mission into one of survival. After many trials and tribulations, the crew was safely returned to Earth on April 17th in what may be NASAs finest hour.

The phrase “based on a true story” has been used repetitively in Hollywood, and seems to have some very wide parameters. Sometimes a film will have a smattering of truths, whilst others take as few artistic liberties as possible; Apollo 13 is one of the latter. To maintain as much accuracy as possible, dialogue from the original flight transcripts were used, and real-life NASA employees were consulted. Every piece, set, and costume was designed to be as accurate to their original counterparts as possible, with director Ron Howard even being given permission to film inside Mission Control- an offer he declined. Howard had his team build their own Mission Control from scratch in a project that was supposedly so realistic that the NASA consultants forgot it wasn’t the real thing. The command modules for the Apollo 13 shuttle were built by a team of professionals who had already reconstructed a model for NASA, and the original design sheets were used when building the spacesuits. It is this attention to detail that solidifies Apollo 13‘s reputation as one of the most accurate biographical films of all time. It also shows the love and respect that the director and crew have for this event, and the people involved. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, and Ed Harris- who are some of the finest actors of the past couple of generations- give such emotion to their characters that it’s hard not to be invested. The score is beautiful, with an ethereal feel which adds to the spirit that this film has.

Apollo 13 has become one of my all-time favourite films, and other than detailing the immaculate replication it’s hard to explain why. The stunning score, the amazing cinematography, the passionate acting, and the human resilience of the people in the event itself. Apollo 13 really did suffer a crippling explosion in space and NASA employees really did work non-stop to get them home. We as a species really did come together in the hopes of getting these 3 men home, and I think that is what hits me most. It’s rare that we see people come together to achieve something great, and there is a longing to see more of that, especially right now.

Sadly, the Apollo Space Program was scrapped in 1972 due to budget cuts, after 17 manned flights. It paved the way for advancements in new technology and by 2030 NASA hopes to have set foot on Mars. We are living in an age of technical marvels with more advancements over the past 100 years than the previous 100. I, for one, cannot wait to see what comes next. But while we wait, go see where we’ve been and watch Apollo 13.

Until Next Time…


*Dedicated to Mark Ashton who fought for everybody’s rights, not just ours*

This film was among the first gay films that I ever saw, and as such has had a prolific impact on me. I’d like to write a non-biased review but LGBT media is very important. They bring stories from this community and its history and they preserve them for the coming generations. It also brings these tales into the limelight for the public who, quite frankly, are under-educated in such things.

“Pride” takes place from 1984 to 1985, a time when being homosexual was still a crime. Nobody gave a damn, not the press, not the police and not the government. This story shows how, through solidarity with striking miners, Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners changed that. The story centres around Joe who, at 20 years old, is still classed as a minor in the eyes of the law. He joins LGSM in their crusade, unknown to his parents who believe hes attending a pastry course at college. We journey from their headquarters, a gay bookstore in London, to Onllwyn in Wales, where the bigotry seems to be dissipating. Our finale sees the miners from all over Wales joining LGSM at the front of the Gay Pride March in 1985, a truly beautiful moment.

As someone who was still closeted upon this films release, I really appreciated how unapologetically gay this film was, and I still do. The soundtrack is comprised solely of songs that would have played in a gay nightclub in the 80s. It isn’t at all shy in showing the troubles of LGBT people at the time, especially when talking about the AIDS crisis.

The highlights of this film are Dominic West, who gets a beautifully choreographed dance scene, and Andrew Scott as his boyfriend. All the performances in this film are superb, especially from Imalda Staunton who played Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter. There she was perfectly despicable but here she is just lovable. There are also some wonderful shots of the Welsh countryside which compliment the smaller shots of the village.

This film is an emotionally charged story with very emotional performance and I cannot give it an unbiased review. I adore this film, please go watch it.

Until Next Time…