'Weekends': Outfest Review

Weekends Still - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of DOCAIR

Weekends Still - Publicity - H 2016

An engaging doc about a groundbreaking gay men's choir.

Seoul singing outfit G-Voice is profiled in this tenderly observed Outfest entry.

South Korea’s first and only gay men’s choir is given some quality time in the spotlight with Weekends, an affectionate if somewhat overlong documentary by Lee Dong-Ha.

While the predominantly young males who have gathered in Seoul on weekends since 2003 are a sweetly harmonious bunch, their actual harmonies, based on what we hear in rehearsals, aren’t about to keep The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles up nights.

As one of G-Voice’s self-aware members observes, “It’s been 10 years now, but we still suck!”

But while the guys may be lacking in God-given vocal dexterity, they’re energetically in tune with their sensibilities as they courageously raise their voices in the face of their country’s aggressive homophobia.

Their endearing camaraderie has been attentively captured by director Lee, although he does spend a needless amount of time detailing the active but not necessarily compelling personal lives of the group’s members, whose day jobs run the gamut from pharmacists to artists to bartenders.

Ultimately Weekends, which previously screened at Berlin, rises to the occasion after it moves beyond those prolonged profiles and shows those baby-faced members of G-Voice performing in front of audiences — many of whom can be far from adoring.

In one disturbing instance they’re pelted with feces-filled toilet water while singing outdoors at a gay Korean wedding; another finds them enduring chants of “Die! Die!” from evangelical Christian protestors interrupting a gay pride festival march.

Although many of the songs on the G-Voice repertoire, such as “Gay Day” and “Memories of a Cruiser” undoubtedly lose something in the translation to English, their ongoing struggle for equality strikes an all-too-universal chord.

Production company: Chingusai Bandal Doc.

Director: Lee Dong-Ha9

Producer: Kim Min-Kyung

Cinematographers: Jung Cheol-Min, Lee Dong-Ha

Editor: Um Yoonzoo

Music: Kang Eda

Venue: Outfest (Documentary Features)

Sales: Docair

In Korean with English subtitles

98 minutes