“Girls on Film II” is a showcase for Power Up and the films it awards grants to in an effort to expose the world to women filmmakers. For the most part, it succeeds, but I wish there would have been more background information on it. Instead, we get one short, “Celebrate Power Up,” which serves as a cursory introduction to the world of the Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching UP. I imagine the folks behind Power Up want the films to stand as a testimony to what it’s about, and if that’s the case, well, prepare to be impressed.
There are three short films on this DVD and a collection of gay-themed parodies of popular movies like “GoodFellas” and “The Graduate.” All of them work on one level or another. The first film featured, “D.E.B.S.,” which has been previously reviewed on Film Threat, plays like a Sigue Sigue Sputnik song in narrative form. It consists mainly of women in schoolgirl outfits firing guns and being tied up — the stuff heterosexual (and apparently some lesbian) fantasies are made of — and it comes off smarter than anyone has a right to expect. The other two films, “Fly Cherry” and “Give or Take an Inch,” have a thoroughly different feel, but are just as entertaining.
“Give or Take an Inch,” which deals with a woman (Kacie Stetson) about to undergo a sex change operation, does a wonderful job of tackling acceptance within a culture (gay and lesbian) that has seen more than its share of intolerance. “Fly Cherry,” on the other hand, explores the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity and the ability to make dreams come true.
Perhaps the most important thing this DVD does is show people that there is no such thing as a “gay” or “lesbian” film. Homophobic heterosexuals can take comfort in the fact that gays and lesbians make the same kind of movies they are used to seeing at their local mall. They just may come at them from a different angle. And let’s not forget the message this sends women of all sexual orientations: You can do it, too. You are just as valuable behind the camera as in front of it. Some would say this message is well-understood in 2004, but if it were, there wouldn’t be a need for Power Up. The message needs to be repeated until it is accepted. Until then, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Power Up for giving grants to these filmmakers so that their messages can be heard.