A Review of Missy Jubilee’s ‘Beautiphul’
By Belinda Tobin
These are the two words that define my reaction to the film Beautiphul by Missy Jubilee.
These descriptions may seem like awkward bedfellows, but, as in all of her films, Missy makes such disparties dance until you are left in no doubt that paradox is a gift.
Beautiphul is film number 175 out of the 250 planned for The Future Sex Love Art Projekt, whose mission it is to deliver an intelligent alternative to dumb porn. The Projekt is to date, the most awarded, most viewed and most successful erotic art film in history.
The aim is to have all 250 films showing simultaneously at major exhibitions at the TATE MODERN in London and MOMA in New York, in tribute to one of the film-maker’s great protagonists – Andy Warhol.
Each film in the series is constructed from snippets of other films, both mainstream and bizarre, intertwined with original footage featuring Missy herself. They are definitely in the realm of erotica with Missy using her body in the films as a metaphor for truthful, brutally honest storytelling about human sexuality.
More than just pictures though, these films are framed by intelligent, introspective prose that provide a blend of narrative and nuance, and allow the viewer to understand the events and the emotions. All of this is founded on a soundtrack that takes the sensory stimulus to a whole new level.
With the combination of fast-moving images, words and music, Missy’s films are akin to being in the middle of a phantastic festival of the arts. Having a very conventional cinematic upbringing, my first encounter with The Future Sex Love Art Projekt was one of shock and awe. It did take some time to attune to the unique format, and I would well advise that you have the space to dedicate your full concentration to the film before diving in. They require your full attention.
So, while Beautiphul is just one of many films made by Missy Jubilee, it is far from being lost in the crowd.
Film 175 stands out as a pivotal turning point in the story of this self-titled sexual deviant.
All of the films preceding Beautiphul address the innate complexity of human sexuality, inviting you to be a voyeur of both the pleasing and the perverse. This film, though, digs deeper to affirm the role our sexuality has in shaping our identity and our innate need for inclusion.
Beautiphul follows the story of a romance between two young women in Vienna, one being Missy and the other a musician named April.
The film documents the life-affirming and innocent passion that erupts between the two women and draws you in to the thrill of sexual intimacy.
Then, promptly, it casts you into the abyss of soul-destroying pain, caused by the parents’ religious condemnation of the relationship and dogmatic denial of their daughter’s desire.
This is why I found the film excruciating.
It shows the path travelled by so many in the LGBTQI community – entering into the world young and eager, excited, exploring, and searching for the treasure of self-understanding.
Then BANG – those who claim to love you slam the chest shut on your fingers, lock it, and seal it in a time capsule under the tabernacle. It is the raw and throbbing wound left in the wake of this rejection that makes this film so painful.
There is no miracle that saves the day in this film. There is no knight in shining armour that restores light to the kingdom, rescues the damsel and recovers lost relationships.
There is no happy ending of reconciliation and reunion.
There is only the reality of perpetual persecution.
As Missy writes in the synopsis to the film:
Because of the convenient invocation
of Godly privilege
to control me
and my life,
caused torment due to my ignorance
of my parents arrogance.Missy Jubilee ‘Beautiphul’ synopsis
However, instead of leaving the viewer in the dark, telling her story in her way bestows the brilliant light of insight for the viewer.
Through the consummate combination of her own and others’ words, she puts the spotlight on the moment when one woman is taught to doubt her sexuality and worth.
It brings incandescence to the ignorance that tears people apart, collectively and individually. And Missy’s mastery documents the first bright blast of war between a woman and her spirit – a war in which there are many casualties and prolonged trauma.
Beautiphul records a moment of self-doubt and heartbreak, but also a moment of excruciating awareness.
In doing so, it holds a mirror to the light and allows the viewer to look deeply into the source of their own pain.
In this way, Beautiphul is a generous gift. In some scenes this offering sits with you in silence. In others, it screams in your face.
Nonetheless, the masterful way Missy presents her truth left me feeling that I was not alone, and that my own experiences had been heard, understood and validated.
Fundamentally, isn’t that what all of us are asking for?
Beautiphul has been invited to over 100 film festivals to date and has won several awards including the silver award for Best LGBT film at the Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival (LAMP), Best Experimental Film at the World Film Carnival Singapore and Best Women’s Short at the Gold Star Movie Awards.