Irreverent LGBT film mini-festival Queer As Film made its long-awaited return last weekend, in partnership with National Student Pride, with a special showing and party at the Departure Lounge in London’s Heaven nightclub.
Tickets sold out well in advance but the room felt neither cramped nor overcrowded, with a full bar open between films. As usual, resident Queer As Film compere Tom Allen tickled the audience’s collective funnybone with wry observations and witty comments between each short film, and chaired the Q&A sessions with each of the filmmakers, offering prizes of DVDs (“From the cover, I’d say it’s the story to two boys who couldn’t afford shirts”) to the audience as rewards for the best questions. Effortlessly riffing off of elements in each of the shorts as we watched them, it’s obvious that Allen’s talents with witty one-liners is one of the things that helps Queer As Film set itself apart from the more serious and stuffy film festivals.
Another, of course, is the films it shows. And as always, Queer As Film delivered on that front, too.
First up was A Little Bit Country, directed by Amy Coop, starting the night off with a fun, light-hearted twist on the traditional coming out story, swapping out being gay for something far more shameful: Being a Country Music fan.
As a contrast the second short, Brink by David Hastings, tells a short, sharp story of a homophobic attack that is brutally and graphic in equal measure.
Cupcakes, by students from Sawston Village College, lifted spirits once again, with a joyful and touching exploration of different sexualities and baked goods. Written, directed and starring a group of teenage college students, the raw talent shown in this short was for me the highlight of an already high calibre evening.
Translucent was the only documentary addition to the event’s lineup, telling the story of Director Emily Steele’s sister Diana coming out as Transgender. Sweet without being cloying, a family discussion about love, change and intimacy is interspersed with home videos to create a poignant, touching and incredibly intimate portrait.
Denis Thierault’s I Am Syd Stone added some international flavour to the evening, telling the story of a Hollywood star returning to his small-town home with the intention of rekindling a clandestine relationship with his former lover. An accomplished, tense and slightly sexy exploration of public persona versus personality in celebrity culture as well as everyday life, it’s not difficult to see why this short was included on Pecadillo Pictures’ Boys On Film anthology.
Rounding off the selection for the evening was OUT, by Gus Lopez, another coming out story with a twist – this time a flamboyant mother struggles to come to terms with her son’s sexuality and the affect it might have on her life in a small country village. Heartwarming, hilarious and wonderfully silly.
As a long-time fan of the series, this collaboration with National Student Pride was a welcome return to form for the Queer As Film team, and hopefully means they will once more be making regular appearances on London’s indie film scene. In the meantime, their regular podcast, Gobbing Off, is available to download from iTunes.
Text: Scott Elliott