Film #207: Gayby Baby (2015)

gaybybabydirector: Maya Newell
language: English
length: 85 minutes
watched on: July 11 2016
(Rainbow Reel Tokyo – 1/6)
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I got a bit confused this year because the Tokyo LGBT film festival officially renamed itself “Rainbow Reel”, but there wasn’t a well-publicized announcement of the fact. Actually, I could have probably found out at Pride this year, as they had a booth, but it was so overcrowded and hot this year, I actually couldn’t concentrate on anything. Anyway, whatever.

Actually, I was excited to go again this year, because I missed it for one reason or another over the last three years – I had been to one film in 2012, which wasn’t so good, but I was optimistic this year and wanted to get back into going to the cinema more. But in 2013, they changed the date to July from September, and I found out too late – then in 2014, I was working, and in 2015, I was back in the UK, so I kept missing it. This year, I could take adequate time off to see things. It was a bit expensive, because I didn’t take advantage of any deals (and I had to go all the way to Omotesando just to buy the tickets, because Ticket Pia adds a commission to every ticket, rather than the whole sale), but I bought six tickets to various movies, and this one was the first.

So, Gayby Baby is a documentary about families with same-sex parents in Australia. It was apparently made as a kind of protest about the political situation there, as for some reason, homophobic politicians are still prominent there. It was banned from being shown in schools, which is terrible, because it’s a pretty good and still important film. It focuses on four kids (the parents are basically background characters) – they never meet, or anything like that, so it’s telling four stories at once.

It quite effectively shows the variety and diversity of gay parenting, and as far as I remember, each of the families come to be parents by different means. It starts with a blond kid telling us he was a born from a donor, but he made me crack up almost immediately by mispronouncing “sperm” as “spam” (not translated in the subtitles, so I think I was the only one in a rather crowded cinema laughing at this point). He’s obsessed with wrestling – another kid is in the process of making up his mind about religion and clashing with his religious mother. A third is auditioning to go to a prestigious music school, but her mothers aren’t so well-off, and just getting her there is a challenge when she has a baby brother who often has seizures. The last is a bit of a mystery – he’s still learning to read and write at age 10, and it’s hinted that he and his older brother went through some abuse with their birth parents, and he didn’t learn to speak until over the age of 5. His dads struggle to teach him to read. And they move to Fiji near the beginning of the movie.

The movie is well-told, and the documentary makers stand back and let the stories tell themselves. There isn’t much in the way of judgement from them – obviously, there’s a very explicitly political motive to creating the movie in the first place, but the movie stands back from that as well. We just get to see these people in something close to their natural habitat.

It’s also obviously a very important movie, and it sold out at the festival – I later learned this was not the case for the rest of the movies I watched, and this one did particularly well by comparison. In a country which is only just starting to have these conversations, about what it means to be a family, but also in countries like my own which have been having them for some time, movies like this are always going to be important. I’ll admit I was skeptical going in, but by the end of it I will whole-heartedly recommend it. I think I’m basically preaching to the choir here – I don’t think I know anyone who’s explicitly against gay marriage and gay families, but if you are and you could be swayed, I want you to watch this. If you aren’t, I still think it should be watched.

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One Response to Film #207: Gayby Baby (2015)

  1. Pingback: Film #208: Girls Lost (2015) | reuoq

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