Pride Unprejudiced: Our Review of ‘Playback’ (2019) on MUBI

Posted in Mubi by - June 08, 2023
Pride Unprejudiced: Our Review of ‘Playback’ (2019) on MUBI

Every streaming service worth their salt has great 2SLGBT+ content, and that is true with MUBI. MUBI calls their queer section Pride Unprejudiced. Being an all year kind of thing, the section represents the community from Europe, North America, and South Asia, and this month’s additions have a South American bent, showing queer life through short films and features. The first of this month’s additions is Agustina Comedi’s Playback, showing the drag and trans scene in Cordoba, Argentina during the 1990s. The 14 minute short captures what’s true in queer communities all over the world. As the narrator says, “the fantasy halted what was wrong outside”. It goes without mentioning that there are a lot of things wrong with the outside world. Argentina, during the 90s, was still healing from a military junta that targeted leftist queers.

The title Playback refers to the recordings of female artists that drag and trans performers use, lip syncing Andalusian and Latin female artists. The narrator, La Delpi, is the only surviving member of the 90s’ Cordoba scene. She likely wants to give all their fellow performers a happy ending. But they and the film can only choose to give that sendoff to one of their colleagues and friends. That friend is La Gallega, who we see both through archive footage and reeanctments. La Delpi talks about her helplessness and sadness about not being able to save La Gallega from AIDS. AIDS’ deaths started decreasing after the events that this short depicts. But again, it goes without saying that the short expresses the sadness that the drugs to mitigate these people’s deaths couldn’t come fast enough.

“No playback today, locas,” says the actor playing La Gallega. Playback is only showing one recreation of La Gallega’s goodbyes. In this one, they spend some time in the audience with Mario, a closeted man. This reminds viewers of another thing wrong about the outside world – men who are too afraid to express their love. The short, thankfully, doesn’t attack the outside world per se as much as it holds on to those who inhabited past queer spaces. But back to the reenactment, as La Delpi explains, they sing in all of those versions. A short like this is effectively haunting, but there’s a silver lining humour in watching La Gallega do spoken world about an 18-year old Bologenese girls. This short is just one of many that captures the essence of those gone before us.

Watch Playback on MUBI. Happy PriDE MONth.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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