Twilight Dancers
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Twilight Dancers

Philippines, 2006, 105 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Asian / Pacific Islander, Drama, Gay, Sex Work, South East Asian
Program: World Cinema
Language: Tagalog

DIRECTOR: Mel Chionglo

Sultry scenes of “macho dancers” performing interlace the story of their grittier off-stage realities in this Filipino feast for the eyes by director Mel Chionglo.
Dwight, orphaned as a child, finds parental substitutes in the sugar daddies (and, yes, sugar mommas) who patronize the stripper bar where he performs. In exchange for a few moments of ecstasy, they offer him promises of a more glamorous life — or at least a fat tip. But Dwight’s struggle to survive with beauty as his only currency leads him into the manipulative hands of mob mistress Madam Loca, who uses him and the other boys as pawns for her sexual whims and dirty deeds. Meanwhile, his studly brother figure Alfred attempts to break away from the macho dancer life to earn a more respectable but less lucrative living to support his hearing impaired wife and their son.
Permeating the film is an almost Almodóvar-esque pansexuality: Transgendered performer Hazel evokes Agrado in All About My Mother; the club’s patrons are both male and female; the dancers’ sexuality bends according to who’s tipping; and the city’s sexually liberated mayor puts on a drag show surrounded by show boys at his own birthday party. Twilight Dancers’ unabashedly sexual young Filipino stars begin their seduction during the opening titles and don’t stop until the end credits finish rolling. — PHILIPPE GOSSELIN

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