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2/10
We all have hang-ups
edchin200611 January 2010
A personal view into one's hang-ups doesn't make a film particularly interesting or insightful.

Who hasn't noticed the obsession with blond, blue-eyed, tall, emaciated role models? Is this something new? Also, I don't think this originated in South Africa.

The advantage of films like this is that it reminds us how possible it is for all of us to create a rant about our wet and dry dreams. With the availability of inexpensive HD 1070i video-cams, I expect to see many more "The Iridescence of Sloe-Eyed Asian Beauties" or "The Fire of Ebony".
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The personal approach makes it messy and unfocused but also provides energy and value
bob the moo28 November 2007
Yunus Valley grew up in a small Afrikaans town in South Africa before moving into bigger cities as an educated young man. Taking his lead from works cataloguing the sexuality and nature of black men, Yunus decides to explore his society threw the presentation and identity of white women. Using his own personal experiences, background and predilections to guide his exploration.

This film is at once an examination of a culture and society where race was the single biggest division in the land but yet also a personal affair as Yunus uses interviews with his own former girlfriends to try and deal with his subject. This is a strength and a weakness within the film though. The strength is that the film is driven by passion for the subject and the value of seeing things through the perspective and experiences of another. This engaged me as it gave more of an insight than a straight documentary would but the problem is that this approach also makes it rather scatty and untidy. It doesn't help that the subject of the film is not really that well defined and that it does rather ramble across itself at times.

The subject it tackles is to do with racial identity and how it has been shaped by cultural etc influences and Yunus is a good funnel through which to do this. Of course by taking this approach it offers a limited perspective into the subject and those looking for an investigation may well be disappointed because this is very much more of an opinion. Yunus himself is actually pretty good as a presenter of the film, borrowing some elements of Errol Morris's filming technique to make the interviews a bit more personal and intimate. He doesn't totally convince with what he is doing, perhaps because he was too close to his subject and the passion he felt took away from the film in some ways but mostly he leads it well – a good personality at the head of a personal film.

It is far from perfect as a film though. It is too untidy and lacking a central focus and for the casual viewer it is hard to be sure quite what we were meant to come away with. However the personal approach of the film does also work in its favour, providing some central point in Yunus himself and injecting a passion for the subject that does go some way to offsetting the messy structure. Worth a look for a personal discussion on race but doesn't really do the wider subjects justice.
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8/10
Deeply personal film provides broader food for thought
katchita17 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
**** Any spoilers are only mild ones that I feel are necessary for an honest review.****

Truthfully, I am quite surprised this film has ended up being the one most on my mind one month post-Berlinale. As soon as I saw the title I just had to get a ticket. It made me think of all sorts of things -- not just the obvious, which is Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. The most interesting has to have been the divine Ms. Vaginal Davis' musings on the eroticization of black men at the 2006 Berlin Porn Film Festival. It's taken me some time to write this review, and I'm still not satisfied -- it was not an easy film.

It's hard to put my finger on what I liked about this film. It was unapologetic, I liked that. It was strongly autobiographical and didn't pretend to be anything other than a single person's view. The director is from a graphics arts background, which undoubtedly contributed to the strong presentation throughout of numerous idealized images and clips. We learned in the post-screening discussion that the producer, who is not appropriately credited, actually played nearly as important a directorial role. Much of what I think we are watching, although all questions were off-screen, is Yusuf Valley discussing this aspect of his life with his British producer. {This was James Mitchell, I believe.}

The discussion after the Berlinale has got to be the very first Q & A that I've EVER attended, in any film festival, in which ONLY WOMEN participated and the questions were all content-oriented (as opposed to technical). But most ranged from unhappy to quite upset, and perhaps I was one of the few white women who found it, quite simply, an interesting personal examination/confession. Perhaps I thought it a bit sad that he came to the conclusions that he did, but given his background in apartheid South Africa, it's hardly any wonder. I felt he did nice work locating his experiences within the broader socio-political context. I'd love to see more work like this that examines how media-driven sexualization and stereotyping of certain groups affects those who are not part of the favored group.
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