Academic essay film about queer Indo-Caribbeans in Canada explores identity and reclamation
QUEER COOLIE-TUDES (Michelle Mohabeer, Canada). 87 minutes. Rating: NN
In this essay documentary, filmmaker Mohabeer juxtaposes nuanced, personal interviews with queer Indo-Caribbeans in Canada and poetic imagery to explore and reclaim the words “queer” and “coolie,” both used historically as derogatory language to marginalize and silence.
In reference to Caribbean landscapes, the subjects are interviewed on Toronto’s islands amongst trees and on a beach. Less vibrant than the Caribbean, Toronto’s scenery becomes a metaphor for the kind of expression and experiences the subjects have had here and there – or erasure.
Each subject weaves the context of indentured labour and migration into stories of family history, identity and culture. The film creates a complete picture of marginalization – race, class, sex and sexuality – but it can be hard to parse. Had the subjects spoken in colloquial rather than academic language, this doc could have been more accessible.