Good social consciousness doesn’t necessarily make for good art—a hard truth underscored by the shorts available for preview from the latest edition of Mix, the Experimental New York Lesbian & Gay Film/Video Festival. Far too many of this year’s filmmakers fail to think beyond freshman-level identity politics, song-of-myself narcissism, and redundant sex-positivity; it’s as if the subculture remains stranded within the conceptual confines of its mid-’90s queer heyday. As a result, those few shorts that attempt something different become standouts almost by default, such as Shawn Durr’s Kuchar-on-crack gorefest Die, Faggot, Die!, Matt Wolf’s self-reflexive student tape on activist generations Smalltown Boys, and Louise Bourque’s glittering neo-feminist abstraction Jours en Fleurs.
Concerned cineastes looking to support Mix’s still valuable raison d’être would be advised to gravitate toward the guest-curated programs, where filters are set higher. Case in point is “Queerly Classed,” a program about lesbians and working-class existence, which sticks to its thematic guns with the righteous tenacity of old-style activism and thereby uncovers some interesting historical threads. Some of the best bits include Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn’s Winner, an improvised interview with a half-baked artist, Tammy Rae Carland’s 1994 pixelvision diary Odd Girl Out, and Eileen, Cecilia Dougherty’s video portrait of writer Eileen Myles.