SlamDance 2023 “Our Males and Females”: Cultural Bridges and Generational Tunnels

by Austin Character

Male and female. Husband and wife. Child and parent. Birth and identity. Choice and death. A people and their beliefs. This is Ahmad and Rana Alyaseer’s short film “Our Males and Females” in an unnuanced nutshell.

And I wanted more, so much more of this child and these parents. It’s a story as riveting as all people it represents.  Of their lives and struggles, perspectives so grounded they bridge continental cultural divides. But I wonder; how many of these films will need to be seen? How many until everyone connects?

A “Bridge Film”, at its foundation, is a peopled concrete of daily life and common cultural occurrences, dried around social class rebar. A world that is wholly its own, but not as distant as we think. Once these accurate supports are up and appraised for their strength, the bridge’s real necessity, and formula for success, magic arcs it from one end to the other. The magic of universal humanity, paved with emotion. People suddenly become just a short walk away.

Ahmad and Rana intelligently restrain their two living main characters from bridging any gender or parental gaps between them so that the audience can emotionally connect on their own. Their child has died, and they are in turmoil. But what stings more is their child has done something they show they cannot. She superseded her gender, was undivided by it. Even until death.

The disconnect between generations, parent and child, how one has failed to adapt and the other has grown to thrive, should not be satisfied with just one narrative visit per era. These critical subjects must be played from every angle they can, from a rhythm that any artist might give. Cover as much ground as you can with its music. And once nearly all of us begin to dance, the ground will shake with change. This film is one such song.

A final note that I want to point out, and applies the world over, is the censorship of the body by gender. The feminine chest of our main character is revealed dramatically by the father, pushing an aggressive point against his wife that this child’s life has gone wrong. Their daughter is artistically blurred for nudity. But at the end of the film, after the father has done what he feels to be correct, we are given a full view of the exact same woman completely uncensored. And this whole time their male genitalia is left to the imagination, to implications. It’s all fantastically done while raising intimate questions.

But like I said at the start, this eleven-minute film deserves hours. It carries so much in its short time, if expanded with the same level of character focus it could be a tour de force. Maybe show the parents living in a slight divide when they receive news of their child’s death, all leading up to this final moment of the story and their burial. So many ways it could be explored, for the bridge to be made. And I can only hope to see it built soon.