The popular Boys On Film collection returns with another selection of gay-themed short film, this time offering a pleasingly eclectic mix ranging across a number of genres and coming from various different countries. Here’s what we thought…
And you can see what we think of other Boys On Film releases here.
We Are Animals
Director: Dominic Haxton (13mins)
This short takes us into an alternate history that imagines a world where the panic over AIDS in the 1980s is taken to the extreme . The world is in chaos and an extreme authoritarian regime is being enforced, where gay and HIV+ positive people aren’t just quarantined but locked up and forcibly castrated. A young man working for the government finds himself having to face his own truth after accidentally getting involved in a breakout from a quarantine facility.
We Are Animals is an angry, intense, intriguing and pretty dark film. It’s also very challenging, leaving you to wonder if either side of the argument is completely right or completely wrong, or if intolerance and rhetoric has pushed both sides far further than ought to be justified. It’s a poem to the resolutely queer who will not pass in ways that heteros deem acceptable. However it doesn’t give them a free pass, asking the audience to question what’s going on. We Are Animals certainly crams a lot into 13 minutes.
7 out of 10
Director: Magnus Mork (11mins)
After winning the Iris Prize (the excellent LGBT short film festival held in Wales every year) Magnus Mork’s award was funding and support to make another short. Burger is what he came up with. Set in a Burger bar, the film dips into the lives of those looking for some late night fast food. From lads on a night out and girls having boyfriend issues to a group of gay friends, it’s a well-observed and fun look into a slice of British life. Many will recognise the slightly too loud, alcohol lubricated world of Burger, where guys make slightly uncomfortable approaches to women and it’s difficult not to feel there’s a chance things will erupt if someone says the wrong thing.
7 out of 10
Alaska is a Drag
Director: Shaz Bennett (14mins)
Some of the more interesting gay-themed films are about what happens when you put ‘Gay with a capital G’ into a world that doesn’t seem built for it. In Alaska Is A Drag, Leo works gutting and canning fish in a small factory, but he’s not prepared to hide or tone down his fabulousness just because he’s surrounded by braggadocio and homophobia. However Leo has to be a wannabe international superstar all by himself until new boy Declan offers the hand of friendship. Alaska Is A Drag is a sweet and entertaining short, allowing the situation it quickly sets up to explore its characters’ lives and show how few people get to be exactly who they’d like to, although some are more willing to compromise than others – and perhaps that there are different types of escape.
6 out of 10
Director: Carlos Augusto de Oliveira (28mins)
Films about middle-aged men and teenage boys are always in danger of feeling a little, well, icky, if they’re not handled well. Three Summers seems well aware of this, so while skirting very close to feeling slightly predatory it actually manages to be rather sweet and charming. As the title suggests it’s set over three years, starting when teenager Thomas confesses to older family friend Jorgen that he’s gay, and in return Jorgen reveals he’d like to divorce his wife. The following year they form an increasingly close bond that ends up turning sexual. While occasionally seeming a little too much like a paedophile’s wet dream, how it handles the fallout of the May-December hook-up pulls things back, offering something complex and interesting. Jorgen is terrified that that happened between him and Thomas will be revealed, while the younger man shows he may actually be the mature one.
8 out of 10
The Last Time I Saw Richard
Director: Nicholas Verso (23mins)
A prequel to the upcoming feature-length film Boys In The Trees, The Last Time I Saw Richard is set in a mental health clinic for young people and follows Jonah, a young man who prefers to push people away and present a face of bravado, rather than let anybody in. He gets a new roommate, Richard, who initially doesn’t say a word. However after Richard discovers Jonah self-harming, and later Richard shows he isn’t intimidated by Jonah’s brash attitude, they begin to form an unexpected connection. Well-made and written, it’s an involving and complex film that thankfully steers away from either melodrama or easy answers. These are believable troubled young people, and some of the genuinely creepy, seemingly supernatural moments that emerge play into that, bringing new meaning to shared demons. It doesn’t reveal its gay leanings for a while, but when it does it’s deftly and movingly handled.
9 out of 10
Director: Eldar Rapaport (24mins)
Another Iris Prize film, this time from Eldar Rapaport, who also helmed the acclaimed August. The film stars Daniel Boys as Elliot, who’s on the verge of turning 30 and has managed to screw up all his fledgling relationships, partly due to the fact who he wants to be isn’t how he comes across to others. One day his brother turns up on his doorstep following a break-up, and he starts to realise that the strange noises coming from next door may be someone spying on him.
Little Man initially seems to be a character study of a man suddenly feeling the hollowness of life and riling at people’s assumptions that being gay is easier, simply because men are more likely to put out. Then things take a twist into psychological thriller territory, and it turns out the spy might not just be a simple creepy stalker. The turn that Little Man takes is strange and will certainly get you thinking, even if it’s not handled quite a well as it might have been. Daniel Boys is extremely good as Elliot though.
6 out of 10
Director: Rodrigo Barriuso (16mins)
Check out our review of For Dorian from when it screened at the Iris Prize Festival by clicking here.
Director: Bryan Horch (14mins)
Compared to the other shorts, Spooners offers a welcome dose of comedy, following a gay couple who decide that they can no longer sleep on their crappy old futon. They head out to get a new bed, which forces them to deal with the fact that while they have a cosy intimacy in private, one of them isn’t comfortable with showing his sexuality openly. However he doesn’t have much choice when he’s forced to take a very public smart bed evaluation. It’s a fun, witty short, which takes a simple situation much further than you might expect and it does it extremely well. It also makes some very valid points while bringing a smile to your face.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac