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Queer Cinema’s Marco Berger.

Queer cinema, specifically Latin American queer cinema is filled with talented filmmakers whose films explore the complexities of the queer individual/community. However there is one filmmaker who has made a crop of films that often mix the exploration of sexuality and tension perfectly and that filmmaker goes by the name of Marco Berger.

Marco Berger is an Argentine filmmaker whose films usually explore the sexual tension between men, the talented filmmaker is one of my favourites because of the way he is able to craft these small intimate moments that make you crave that special moment the characters are sharing. A sucker for a somewhat happy ending Marco Berger is one of queer cinema’s gem.

Berger’s films use the male body not only as a tool of admiration but also a tool of physical and emotional exploration. Like I’ve said before in my “Three Elements I Always Find in Queer CinCinemaema” article, queer cinema uses the body as an element to push forward the themes of the film. Berger’s films are identifiable by their saturated tones and the use of white (sometimes harshly), which gives these films a documentary look to them, accompanied by their indie film shoestring budget characteristics. Berger also makes use of the camera in a voyeuristic way, the ways in which his cameras are placed is deliberate, which gives off the voyeuristic element. Be it behind an object or through some bushes, it’s with this voyeuristic element that Berger adds the fantasy element for the audiences and makes them do the whole “I shouldn’t be look but I can’t help myself”.

Berger has a talent of portraying male fragility through his blocking, camera shots and camera angles alone, his ability to also give sensuality to the rugged male physique is simply amazing. His films leave a lot unsaid in terms of dialogue but it’s through his characters and their physical expressions that we know exactly what’s needed to be said or what’s already communicated.

Like for example in his 2013 film Hawaii Berger crafts a tale about two men falling for each other. This set up could easily get eye rolls from cinema goers who’ll scream “seen that already!”, but Berger makes sure that his film stands out by placing his two characters in a single location, and exercises his sexual tension muscle by prolonging it and adding delicacy and giving love time to grow between these two men.
Another characteristic of Berger’s films that they almost always feature two straight men or straight acting men who have an attraction towards each other. However Berger did experiment with the darker side of sexual attraction when he the Teddy award winning Ausente (Absent), a film the follows a young high schooler who develops a crush on his coach and plots to seduce the older gentleman. In this film Berger truly shines in the words unspoken by the mouth but spoken through the body and the film is open ended that you’re not sure if the events truly happened or if they were the imagination of a sexually awakened teen boy.

Sexual Tension Volatile co-directed with Marcelo Briem Stamm, is perhaps the perfect example where Berger has infused sexual exploration with tension that can rival some of the best tension films in history. Paired with Berger’s other film Taekwondo co-directed with Martin Farina, Marco paints a picture of sexual ambiguity, and dare I say the violent side of sexual tension? I say violent side of sexual tension because in Sexual Tension Volatile, the characters never give in to the sexual pull and all those new emotions end up being internalized and me personally I say that’s a recipe for disaster. On the other side however in Taekwondo Berger let’s his characters give in to the pull and an already sensual film is given this powerful delicate moment where all the work the characters have put in the film pays off, and Berger lets us know that it’s okay to give in and explore your sexuality, it’s never too late.

So here’s a huge cheers to independent queer cinema king Marco Berger and I for one cannot wait for the two features he’s planned for us in 2019. Check out Mariposa, Hawaii, Plan B, Taekwondo and the Sexual Tension Volatile series if you want get into Marco’s films.

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