Film Review of “Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program”

Film Review of “Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program”

Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program (2012-2014)

Cast: Various actors and actresses

Director: Various directors

Genre: Biography, Documentary, Fiction, and LGBTQ


The films within “Lives Worth Living” were compelling and thought provoking. They all seemed to display the common correlation between mental health illnesses, and gender and sexuality conflict. One of the films was about a woman who had anxiety and was gay and couldn’t talk to her crush without shying away or acting strange. She hid behind her anxiety in fear of being rejected. Finally, she decided that she would be honest with herself and her crush so that she could overcome her anxiety and live her life how she wanted to without feeling burdened. Immediately I thought about young adults in contemporary Western culture feeling nervous and uneasy asking out their crushes, then I imagined how someone in the LGBTQ community and/or someone with a mental illness would feel doing the same. Not only is there a fear of being rejected but also a fear of being judged and shamed for their sexual orientation as well as perhaps not being physically able to as a result of their mental health. Everything piled on top of one another can make these individuals feel helpless as they wrestle with the weight of the world on their shoulders. This film positively portrayed the outcome of conquering fear, and mental health illnesses, and I hope it inspires others struggling with the same issues.

Another film that stuck out to me was about the main character, a man who was deaf, who enjoyed swimming in the pool alongside another man. He spent most of his days alone and isolated from others. At the end of the scene, the other man who he swam with used sign language to talk to him, and they kissed, and swam together. This film really touched me because the whole time I was watching it I felt sad that he was alone and was searching for someone to be with, when really he had someone all along. It warmed my heart that the other man put effort into learning sign language for the man who is deaf because it showed how much he cared. This was really a great example of overcoming society’s belief of heteronormativity.

Overall, these films were truly inspiring and genuine. They expressed real-life situations, not just Hollywood-esque movie scenes that don’t accurately depict the lives of queer individuals and what they deal with. They can truly be helpful for and give guidance to those tackling similar obstacles. The films seemed to be expertly made and kept me intrigued throughout.

The film that I’m focusing on was about a man who desired to be a woman, and so he dressed in drag and performed on stages. When in drag he was known as Phatima Rude. The scene that stood out to me the most was when he was alone in his van talking directly to the camera about personal events that took place in his life, and he struggled to speak without crying. Throughout the film you witness this confident, bold individual but when he cries about the hardships in his life you get to see a different side of him that is not seen until that moment. He shares intimate details about defeating his drug addiction and the moment he almost removed his own genitals because he wanted to be a female so badly. It made me think about all the people that go through the same challenges, and who have the ability to emerge stronger than ever to take on their lives. He expresses his gender identity through makeup, the way he dresses, and they way he behaves. It goes to show that gender is entirely socially constructed (Aulette and Wittner), and that gender-expansiveness is quite plausible, especially now in contemporary society. Female and male are not the only gender possibilities in 21st century culture, and these are known as sexual binaries. There is an array of gender choices that many people identify with and Phatima is a quintessential example of these variations.

When I walked into The Screening Room, naturally I looked around the room to see who else was there viewing the films. I found it interesting that there were quite a few older adults there because it seems as though older people, more than others, are opposed to the idea of being homosexual, queer, transgender, etc. This is likely because they grew up in a different era where it wasn’t very common to be any of these. Many of them grew up learning that traditional and conventional practices were what to live by. Personally, I think individuals in today’s society are becoming more accepting of others who do not express “normal” gender or sexuality because it is something they grow up understanding. Usually it is something that is seen as natural. I like knowing that there is hope for the future in terms of accepting other people’s gender and sexuality choices, even though there is still a long way to go.


Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds: Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.


4 thoughts on “Film Review of “Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program”

  1. I think a common misconception many cis gendered people feel towards the LGBTQ community is that they do not experience “normal” crushes or love lives. However, the first short you write about truly displays that this is untrue and that all people struggle with confidence when it comes to approaching someone they have a crush on. I think this is noteworthy because it allows the short’s audience to understand this concept away from the classroom, in a visible and relatable level. I also relate to your experiences at the Screening Room because I, too, was surprised that there were older and younger people in the audience. I think Kingston has done a great job at moving away from social constructions of gender and ReelOut is a great way to continue to do so.


  2. I really enjoyed how you touched on a few films. It demonstrates the investment you possessed in attending the film festival. As well, I feel that it provided a greater understating of the shorts as a whole and the underlying theme among all of the films you presented. I get the sense from reading your review that among all the films it was clear that the underlying theme was striving for acceptance of self and the difficulties that go long with this. I especially enjoy the point you made when you say “Immediately I thought about young adults in contemporary Western culture feeling nervous and uneasy asking out their crushes, then I imagined how someone in the LGBTQ community and/or someone with a mental illness would feel doing the same.” This statement has the potential to really open the eyes of readers. Often, we get so caught up in the heteronormative struggles that society perpetuates, we forget that the struggle of those who are not deemed “normal” are amplified to the nth degree.


  3. I really enjoyed reading your film review. I particularly liked the fact that you first provided the readers with a plot for each of the three short films and then elaborated on the themes and your opinions on certain issues. The well-organized order made it easy for the reader to recognize the main points and the message that each of those films gives. I completely agree with everything you said in the first film review, especially the part in which you pointed out that not only are queer individuals afraid of rejection but they are also afraid of being judged due to their sexual orientation. At the same time I think that nowadays the situation has improved drastically when it comes to dating amongst the queer community due to an increasing number of queer bars as well as internet dating sites. It is evident that the world is becoming a more tolerant place in general, but unfortunately at the same time there are still a number of places where queer people are exposed to violence and persecution.


  4. Your film review brought up many great points surrounding mental health and the LGBTQ community. The way in which you described the varying short films makes me believe that the director did a good job of incorporating films that tie into a central theme of mental wellness. This topic is extremely important in todays society. People in the LGBTQ community may face prejudices or feel unaccepted in their community. With an increasing number of self harm events it is essential to teach acceptance and rid society of a heteronormative belief.

    The film that I saw at Reelout had older queer characters as the main focus. One of the sponsors of the showing was a Senior’s society. I agree with you that society is becoming increasingly more accepting. As well, those who may have once only considered the binaries or gender and sexuality are being exposed to events such as Reelout that may encourage them to think harder about their beliefs.


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