Transfinite

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Transfinite
"There is a unity of style and approach that means even though you are watching many films, you still end up with a sense of watching just the one."

So here's what it says on the tin: “Transfinite is a sci-fi omnibus feature film composed of seven standalone magical realistic short stories where supernatural trans and queer people from various cultures use their powers to protect, love, teach, fight and thrive.”

Which is about right. Each film, running at somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes tells a short story or perhaps, more precisely, communicates a simple basic idea around difference, queer acceptance, and the universe of possibility that exists, if one dares to let down barriers and allow the infinite in.

There is Natma, a trans woman musing on the meaning of love. Her ideal partner does not mind that she is trans but worries what other people will say. The resolution – a taking down of a transphobe by snake magic – had me squirming, and not in a good way. Because I am a confirmed ophidiophobe (that's snake-fearer in basic English) and spend a proportion of my life avoiding snake imagery in all its shapes and sizes.

Bad start. Though they were not to know.

Then we have Asura: a sweet carton about a fighter who discovers that love and moving in harmony is always stronger than fighting ability. In Shayla, an eco warrior and a committed property developer are brought together through love, which manifests in the shape of a glowing flower and love, as we know, conquers all.

Bahari is a nationalist's nightmare. Glowing words emerge from a box, expressing a wish for a world without borders. It concludes: when hearts are entwined, borders will fall. In Nova, a girl is accused of punching a young boy. It turns out he has in fact been punished for his own transgression. Dance magic is involved.

Maya is the tale of a gardener who cultivates fruits found only in the queerest countries. It is sensual – the flowers in a greenhouse are clear stand in for the erotic. And if you don't spot that by the way the gardener is caressing each and every petal, the dialogue leaves little to the imagination. Addressing his love, he ventures “I don't want to lose you after I pluck you.”

Her reply: “If you pluck me I will plant us. Let's grow!”

Does this sound like i'm making fun? Because I am not. This genuinely is the most erotic short in a botanical setting I have ever viewed. Almost embarrassingly so!

Last up is Viva. This opens with a voice whispering a series of aspirational slogans that can be boiled down to no more racism, sexism, discrimination. Education for all. And these, it turns out, are to be imposed by a trans hypno domme on a US President. Hooray!

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. The difficulty with a lot of short collections is that they can all too easily look like a ragbag assembly of different attempts by different directors.

Here, no doubt reflecting the fact that this film was pulled together under a single director (Neelu Bhuman) and a collective of writers (in alphabetic order: Ryka Aoki, Neelu Bhuman, D'Lo, Stefano Gonzalez, Cody L Makil, Davia Spain, Lida N Vala) there is a unity of style and approach that means even though you are watching many films, you still end up with a sense of watching just the one.

This unity is expressed through multiple elements: the use of cartoon at key points, a simple background music, and a commonality of themes. Not just about trans or sex or gender or sexuality but also pinging green and eco issues. The film dips easily in and out of multiple languages, giving platform to all genders, sexualities and a profusion of ethnicities. The setting is magical, but not magic Harry Potter style, wherein the point is about dominion. Rather, this is the magic of the heart and of love and of dance.

One might almost describe it as a tad hippyish, given the assertion in the credits that “many participating humans were enveloped with an invisible jolt of happy vibes during the making of this film.”

I'm still not entirely convinced of the merits of collections of shorts. But if any film was going to go some way to change my mind on that thought, this one certainly helps.

Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2019
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An anthology film in which supernatural trans and queer people from various cultures use their powers to protect, love, teach, fight and thrive.

Director: Neelu Bhuman

Writer: Ryka Aoki, Neelu Bhuman, D'Lo, Stefano Gonzalez, Cody L Makil, Davia Spain, Lida N Vala

Starring: Shay Angelo Acevedo, Harmony Santana, Liz Anderson, D'Lo, Ryka Aoki, Blossom C Brown, Cooper Chow

Year: 2019

Runtime: 70 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

SQIFF 2019

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