FILM REVIEW: LILIES





“Of course, lesbians have dreamt of this for years: sleeping in late, reading to each other, fretting over the cat, cooking, stretching, and listening to jazz in silks. No parties to attend.” These are the very first words by the poet Joni Renee Whitworth from the experimental short film called ‘lilies’. The poet wanted to express her passion for seeking pleasure even in the tragic situation such as that of pandemic. Lilies is a nine minute mélange of images and sounds developed in collaboration with Hannah Piper Burns, who added all the visuals to the film making it more appealing to the audience. The film percolates to a raging rush of hope and despair. It conveys the experience of Whitworth, facing the difficulties and struggles being a Queer artist who strives to survive the pandemic, offering a comprehensive post-COVID meditation.

In the film Whitworth talks about the issues faced by people belonging to the LGBTQ, Femme, Gay, Lesbian, Homosexual or Bisexual category. She through her poetic words describes the fear and sadness that is felt by these people because people are not quite ready to accept them as normal human beings. She says at one point in the film that, “I want to be a part of something”. As we progress in the film she describes the negative impacts of COVID on the normal human life she says, ‘I know a lot of people thought they couldn't feel happy or pleased last year, and if anything was good they would feel bad or try to hide it somehow. The response disappoints me so much’. Whitworth believes that building a society deprived of pleasure and joy is never accepted, there always has to be some room for this. As for the hard stuff, it will always be there just like the present times of COVID. Whitworth's story was supplemented by Burns with vibrant visuals. Lilies are dominated by video images of animals, nature and food. Some clips and footage of three video games have been included these are, Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector, Animal crossing and Stardew Valley. In the film Whitworth tells the experience after coming out, Whitworth doesn’t understand the behavior of people around her and others like her. Being a queer or femme has been hard for so many people in various areas of life. As Whitworth says, how the expressions of the grocery shop cashier changed when he got to know about me. It was so heartbreaking, but all of this has made her and people like her strong.

Whitworth ends Lilies with a sincere declaration that 'There's going to come a Monday,' and the time when that Monday comes, there will be a pool of questions to be answered. She including her among all other artists says that, “We are jobless artists in a nation that hasn’t paid for art in years, if ever, will society rise to meet us? Will there be a place for us in the new world order? Will I make something with both of my hands?” These questions no matter how disturbing they might seem represent the truth of the world. As of now, more than a year has passed in these lockdowns and these questions are still to be answered.


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