Gender Fluidity, Turkish Delights, and Richard E. Grant Has a “Lesson” for You: Tribeca 2023

Brandon Judell
6 min readJun 24, 2023
Is the tutor Liam Somers (Daryl McCormack) giving “The Lesson” or getting one?

Have you ever wondered why you and your compatriots worldwide are so obsessed with entertainment big and small? Pauline Kael in “Trash, Art, and the Movies” supplied one possibility: “Maybe you just want to look at people on the screen and know they’re not looking back at you, that they’re not going to turn on you and criticize you.”

Or if you are a subway rider, kill you.

Kael’s fellow critic Geoffrey O’Brien’s was paraphrased as saying: “Everyone is born twice, once in the real world, and once again in the movie world.” I guess we should update that to the “streaming planet.”

O’Brien also noted in The Phantom Empire how we’re taught our dating rituals in the dark. For example, on my first date, I took Michelle Goldstein to the Loews American in Parkchester to see Dick Van Dyke and Barbara Feldon in Fitzwilly. Like a gawky teen hero from some black-and-white 50’s musical I saw on WOR-TV’s daily afternoon offering, The Million Dollar Movie, I actually yawned and, mid-yawn, swung my left arm over Michelle’s shoulders. Then I forgot what to do. After 15 minutes or so, my poor limb was so severely cramped, romancing became the last thing on my mind.

Happily, many of the characters showcased at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival were a bit more self-assured.

Iman Artwell-Freeman stars as a New York City teacher checking out the ruins and more in “Ôte,” a love letter to Turkey. © Didem Civginoglu

For example, take Öte, an engaging travelogue of sorts directed and written by Malik Isasis and Esra Saydam. Here Leia (Iman Artwell-Freeman), a Black New-York-City high-school teacher, hiking solo throughout Turkey, has an end goal of meeting up with a gal pal in Armenia. Along the way, a few unencumbered romances lasting an evening or two, are not ruled out.

As she buses, trains, and treads along beaches, hills and highways, this highly appealing knapsacker is an object of curiosity because of her skin color both to children and to the men who are smitten by her charms.

Volleyball player: “I never went to bed with a Black woman.”

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Brandon Judell

For half a century, Brandon Judell has covered the LGBTQI scene and the arts. He currently lectures at The City College of New York.