In Karleen Pendleton Jiménez’s short The Butch and The Baby Daddy, Alex, the titular butch in question, is forced to explore her rationale for wanting a child and what characteristics she seeks in a potential father. Her conclusions lead her back to close friend Mateo as a prospect, and through him explores what exactly she wants in a child, touching upon what factors about him are deemed desirable. Alex finds herself yearning for a wholeness related to her racial identity as a mixed person and seems convinced that it is achievable through having a Mexican child, identified in Mateo’s closer proximity to the ethnicity that Alex has been at wits with since childhood.
As Alex explores the impetus behind Mateo’s desirability, the short explores the transcendence of nomenclature that queer attraction in particular has, and how this alone challenges the comfort we as LGBTQ+ people tend to take in the labels we assign ourselves. The need for some sort of intellectualized rationale in the desires we feel is especially resonant with anyone familiar with how queer academics operate, as we tend to fear the parts unknown. In Alex’s anxiety and insecurity commandeers the fantastical realm we are within for a majority of the short. We are brought back to the reality of the task at hand and are left with the same question we began this journey asking. This short challenges common understandings of family structure, queerness, and racial identity, pushing back on these institutions through Alex’s lamentations.
Body Politics acts as Aisha Fairclough’s love letter to her partner, Dr. Jill Andrew. An NDP member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario whose commitment to empathy, social justice, and community has rendered her a visible figure in the fight for equity and access. An official opposition critic on a number of portfolios related to issues such as women’s health and culture, Dr. Andrew has passed several pieces of legislation, most notably Bill 61 which recognizes the first week of February as Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
This short highlights not only where Andrew has succeeded in her work, but where she fails as well, showing a vulnerability so rarely found in political figures. There’s a scene in her office where she gets off the phone in tears and begins to cry about a constituent who is getting evicted. Andrew is such a personable and likable figure, and this scene humanizes her even more, giving her politics a grounding in the lived reality she’s experienced. The venture into this side of Dr. Andrew’s life comes with significant hardship. “To have been elected in 2018, to be Black, to be queer, to be fat, to be a woman, in politics now… it opens up a window,” She says in a clip, clearly being filmed at home. Andrew goes on to describe how members of the Legislature have called her “rude and disgusting” for her advocacy, showing that despite defeat, she can persevere and make change where she is able, knowing her presence in government is absolutely necessary.
The 2023 ReFrame Festival runs from January 26th-February 3rd. A list of films, tickets to events and screenings, and more information can be found on the Festival Website.
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