The Boys On Film series is back with its 12th instalment, this time loosely themed around the idea of Confession. Boys On Film is the most popular short film DVD anthology in the world, of any genre, and if you’ve watched them it’s clear why, as there’s a huge amount of incredibly good LGBT shorts out there, much of which would be hidden from the majority of people if it weren’t for discs like this.
This time the films range from one about a 17-year-old with a crush on the local priest to another focussing on a Hollywood hunk heading to his hometown with the hope of rekindling an old relationship. So what is the Boys On Film 12 short film selection like?
And you can see what we think of other Boys On Film releases here.
Home From The Gym
Director: Robert Hawk (6mins)
Here’s a short that does what it says on the tin –a man returns home from the gym, and then starts to undress. While that sounds like the intro to a porn film, Home From The Gym is something more interesting. It is fascinated by the male form but also by the reality of life. The man does not strip sexily in slow-mo, he struggles with his clothing, a reminder of fantasy and reality combining. Even when naked – and incredibly hot – there’s a sense of solitude and sadness, with the audience asked to temper its expectations with the reality under the physique. Director Robert Hawk consulted on the likes of The Celluloid Closet, Gay Sex In The 70s and Travis Mathews’ I Want Your Love and Interior. Leather Bar, and while this is his directorial debut, he knows what he’s doing. And make sure you watch it to the end of the credits.
8 out of 10
Director: Stephen Dunn and Peter Knegt (10mins)
Many of us have woken up the morning after a night of partying, trying to piece together exactly what happened the evening before and cringing at some of what we remember. Good Morning takes that to the extreme, where the day after his 30th birthday party, a man wakes up to discover a 17-year-old is sleeping on his couch. Although that sounds like it might be a bit creepy, it’s actually a light and witty tale, which smartly dissects age differences – particularly the disparity between your expectations of being gay versus the reality. It also realises that things have changed rapidly for young gay people, and that society may be different for those coming of age now than it was for people who are only 10 years or so older.
7 out of 10
Director: Samuel Leighton-Dore (15mins)
In this Aussie short Julian (Lucas Pittaway of Snowtown fame) is still grieving for his deceased mother, a woman who knew all about him, including that he’s gay and performs in a drag act. However his father is completely unaware of this and is still reeling from his wife’s death – even if he does have a rather brash younger girlfriend. There’s a real melancholy at the heart of Showboy, of people stuck in lives they don’t want, trying to find happiness and be a good person, but not always succeeding, as well as being at the mercy of people and attitudes they don’t have full control over. The film also uses a clever crosscutting technique to quickly piece together the complexities of Julian’s life, as well as having an incredibly dense and smartly put together soundtrack. It’s a short film with a real sense of danger about the difficulties some young people face, and while the ending isn’t as strong as it might have been, it’s still a good film.
7 out of 10
Director: Bobby de Groot & Arjan van Meerten (8mins)
I think this may be the first animated short in the Boys On Film series, and it’s a bit of a strange one. On a long straight highway a man is pulled over by the police. However the man in the driver’s seat was in trouble before the police stopped him, as the teddies in the back seat aren’t as innocent as they look, leading to a very unusual shootout. It’s a weird but fun film, with one of the most unexpected Matrix-style bullet-time shots you’ll ever see. With Cruise Control you’ll probably be wondering exactly what the hell is going on, while being unexpectedly entertained. There certainly aren’t many westerns like this.
6 out of 10
I Am Syd Stone
Director: Denis Theriault (11mins)
Hollywood heartthrob Syd Stone has come back to his hometown for his high school reunion. Despite being desired by people around the globe, there’s a sadness about Syd and it becomes clear that he’s hoping his return home will give him a chance to relive the simpler, happier times, most particularly rekindling an old, closeted relationship. While the idea of a movie star in the closet isn’t new, I Am Syd Stone does it extremely well, quickly making you care about its central characters and the world they’ve trapped themselves in. Many of us will recognise the longing for something we wish we had, especially when we see others who have it. It’s a smart way of looking at the effect of the choices we make.
7 out of 10
Director: Dustin Shroff (6mins)
I’ve always been kind of fascinated by when it is with children that the idea of some things being ‘for girls’ and some ‘for boys’ kicks in. It seems to be very early, but that’s social conditioning for you. That’s the subject of Deflated, where young Chris has gone to the shop and wants to buy a new bouncy ball – however all the decent ones are bright pink. Can he over overlook the fact that boys aren’t ‘supposed’ to play with pink things? Deflated has a good sense of humour and really takes you into the magic of childhood, which makes the ending all the more effective. It’s a short, sharp idea and the film does it extremely well, fitting a lot into its six minutes.
8 out of 10
Director: Filippo Demarchi (22mins)
It’s young love time, this time in a marching band. 17-year-old Matteo plays the drum in the band and has a massive crush on band leader – and priest – Don Massimo. While Massimo is much, much older than Matteo, the young man can’t help but feel a connection, and that in Massimo he may have finally found someone willing to listen to the hopes and dreams he keeps hidden from the rest of the world. Unfortunately though, life is rarely that simple. Age 17 is a smart look at the complexities of youth for those dealing with their sexuality, and many will recognise the difficulties of trying to be with girls but it not working, as well as potentially misreading signals from those we have feelings for. The film understands the awkwardness of youth and also that often there aren’t any simple answers.
9 out of 10
Director: Christophe Predari (11mins)
Antoine is desperately in love with Bruno and wants to keep him close. However there is trouble in paradise, as Bruno is distant, while Antoine’s neediness is perhaps too all-consuming. This story of a relationship at a crossroads intercuts between the men in an apartment and both of them alone and naked in a forest – a seemingly metaphorical place of desire that’s apart the reality of life, but soon even there the lines between lust, love, anger and frustration collide. It’s a bit of an odd film, strangely mesmeric yet also close to being too pretentious for its own good. Human Warmth is certainly interesting – and quite sexy – but I’m not sure it actually works as a short film all that well.
5 out of 10
Tonight It’s Me
Director: Dominic Haxton (13mins)
This is the third film by Dominic Haxton to feature in the Boys On Film series, following Teens Like Phil and We Are Animals. While those earlier films were interesting and ambitious, Tonight It’s Me is perhaps his most accomplished yet. CJ (Jake Robbins, who’s also the star of Home From The Gym) is a hustler in LA, used to having sleazy older men pay him for sex and treat him like a piece of meat. However things take an unexpected turn when Ash hires him. Ash is CJ’s age, transsexual and may be looking for company as much as sex. CJ isn’t sure how to react to someone who doesn’t fit into the typical gender binary, but soon finds his horizons being broadened. It’s an oddly sweet, well-made film that looks at disconnected souls coming together and finding common ground, even if their experience of life is very different. It’s well worth watching, making you consider the different marks that our encounters with other people leave on us.
8 out of 10
Overall Verdict: The last couple of Boy On Film collections have been good but not quite as great as what came before, but Confession is a return to form with some extremely god and very entertaining shorts.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac