Film Review: Fabulous (2019); IDFA 2019

Fabulous

Alle rechten voorbehouden aan de rechtmatige eigenaars. Film stills Fabulous verkregen via IDFA 2019.

All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. Film stills Fabulous provided by IDFA 2019.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4/5.
Author: Maxime Hallatu | Runtime: 46 min | Director: Audrey Jean-Baptiste | Year: 2019

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Fabulous (2019) is very fascinating and illuminating. This documentary engages you from the beginning all the way towards the end. The music, the silences, the conversations and the story all serve the point of awareness being made about this vibrant culture that surrounds a striking form of dancing and the expression of being yourself.

Fabulous: voguing in a culture with ‘toxic masculinity’

Fabulous is about Lasseindra Ninja, she is known in the European ballroom culture. Ballroom culture is an underground LGBTI+ scene for people of color which has its origins in the 1960s in Harlem, New York. An important part of this is, Voguing. Voguing is a dance form that belongs to ballroom culture and gives an identity to young people who do not feel accepted in society because of their sexual orientation. The full history of ballroom culture is not fully explained in this documentary, but its Lasseindra Ninja’s mission to be teaching this dance form in her country of origin, French Guiana. This form of voguing, called Vogue Fem, focuses on the femininity that lies in everyone. In French Guiana, there is a macho culture, or toxic masculinity, which means that gay men are tolerated, nor accepted. In the film, the viewer follows the lessons of Lasseindra Ninja and the growth of three boys who follow her classes. These guys tell their stories about belonging and their position within the LGBTI+ community. How that they are bullied, among other things, and you also see that the lessons give them the freedom to be themselves.

Films about ballroom culture

Nowadays there are many films about ballroom culture and voguing, but what Fabulous discusses is the necessity and function of this particular subculture and what it could achieve in French Guiana. Lasseindra Ninja, the main character of this documentary, indicates during the Q&A after the film that it was very important to shoot this documentary in a closed and safe environment. She mentions this in regard of the macho culture in French Guiana and the danger that could occur for these boys in their mission t express themselves in a feminine way with Vogue Fem.

Conclusion

Although I am a bit disappointed about the lack of explanation about the history of ballroom culture, it should be cited that it isn’t always needed. Since you can research that on your own and besides that, it is of significance to see this side of the story. Even Lasseindra Ninja said in the Q&A’s that they did not want to teach openly, because it would be too dangerous for her and the students. The Q&A was certainly a great addition. Just to see who Lasseindra is as a person and to see her explain how grave the fears of being rejected are. It’s definitely a recommended film, but do inform yourself about what ballroom culture is.

The film was shown at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam in the Netherlands on the 27th of October 2019.

Genre: Documentary | Languages: French | Dutch FilmFestival: International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)

Met betrekking tot alle foto’s en trailerbeelden. Alle rechten voorbehouden aan de rechtmatige eigenaars. Film stills verkregen via IDFA 2019

In regard to all pictures and trailer footage. All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. Film stills provided by IDFA.

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