Alice (Anna Celestino Mota, a real life YouTuber and blogger), star of Gil Baroni’s Alice Junior is a beautiful teenage girl with a strong sense of self and an active presence on social media, where her favorite topic is beauty. A lover of cute clothes and sparkly things, she’s living her best life in a luxurious high-rise building near the beach in Recife, which she shares with her chill father Jean Genet (Emmanuel Rosset—and that really is the character’s name), a widower who works in the perfume business.
No conflict, no story, so this teenage paradise must come to an end. Jean Genet’s work requires them to move to a small town in Paraná, and Alice finds herself in the much less accepting environment of a strict Catholic school where the students wear uniforms and the headmistress believes biology is destiny. So Alice, who was identified as male at birth, is forced to wear a boy’s uniform and not allowed to use the girl’s toilets, and must find her way in a student body featuring the expected number of jerks.
Alice Junior shares a lot with the typical “fish out of water” school story, and it relies heavily on the tropes and characteristics of that genre, including that white cis boys get away with a lot that wouldn’t be tolerated from girls. That’s not a criticism, just an observation: this is a fun, lively example of school story, with a message that could use more repetition. It’s also as perky and self-aware as one of Alice’s YouTube broadcasts, right down to the upbeat soundtrack and graphic embellishments to the cinematography.
Even if you don’t know the name of Keith Haring, you’ve almost certain seen his art, which is featured on everything from t-shirts to television commercials. And that’s totally in the spirit of the artist, who didn’t have much use for the snobbery and gatekeeping that pretends there’s some kind of absolute line between “fine art” of the type you might see in a museum or a gallery, and whatever it is that he and his friends created. Of course, Haring’s work is also in museums and galleries and on the walls of collectors these days, but it’s also in Pop Shop, a bathroom in the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in New York City, in his home town of Kutztown, PA, and a whole lot of other places.
Ben Anthony’s documentary Keith Haring: Street Art Boy offers a fresh and well-rounded look at Haring’s life and art, aided by unparalleled access to materials held by the Keith Haring Foundation. It also paints a picture of the downtown art scene of his day, led in part by Haring and his classmates at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. They were all about art that was both accessible and political, and Haring in particular was renowned for creating his works spontaneously, often in public places such as blank advertising spaces on the subway. Sadly, Haring died from complications of AIDS in 1990, but his work is everywhere today, and that’s actually how he wanted it. | Sarah Boslaugh
NewFest 2020 runs from Oct. 16 to Oct. 27, and most films in the festival are available for remote screening. Both single tickets ($12, $10 for members) and all-access festival passes ($95) are available. Further information, including details on the films and other events, is available from the festival web site.