The Boys On Film DVD releases have been a great showcase for gay male-themed short films (indeed, it’s the most successful short film series in the world). While there has been one Girls On Film release, it’s generally not been as easy for the general viewer to find the best in lesbian-themed shorts. Thankfully though New Queer Visions: Lust In Translation – a collaboration between UK short film festival New Queer Visions and VoD platform, Filmdoo.com – has stepped forward with a variety of well-made and stimulating lesbian shorts.
Take a look at what we thought of each of the short films:
Shimi – dir. Kate Maveau (Belgium)
A young woman practices the disciplined rigours of ballet, while fellow dancer Keely and a mysterious stranger watches. Hints of repressed lesbian desire are unleashed. As Keely gets to know the stranger, Mairi, it becomes increasingly unclear whether she is a real person or a vision of who Keely wishes she was (perhaps her id) – or perhaps a bit of both. Extremely well made and with shades of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Shimi is intriguing and somewhat mysterious, exploring the repressed sexual desire and awakening of a young woman in a rather fascinating way. As it continues it also reveals a darkness and complexity to its story that’s well worth sticking around for.
8 out of 10
Lost In The World – dir. Xolelwa “Ollie” Nhlabatsi (South Africa)
A woman trawls the streets in her car, apparently on the lookout for drugs. In flashback we see her earlier life with her female partner, as we piece together the events that she is apparently trying to forgot through narcotics. This thriller plays with genre ideas, swapping the ‘expected’ genders and showing a more realistic fallout for the sort of events we see in mainstream crime movies. It’s a smart and well-made movie, made by a South African filmmaker who wants to get across that drugs and crime aren’t just about entertainment, they’re about lives falling apart.
7 out of 10
Stevie – dir. Chloe Jury-Fogel (USA)
This short film follows the title character, a slightly dorky, small town tomboy. She gets asked by a new boy in town, Justin, whether she wants to hang out, which she agrees to, although she isn’t sure quite what she’s supposed to do or how to do a ‘date’. Stevie’s sister is excited as she thinks it might end the rumours that Stevie is a lesbian, although a woman Stevie meets on the date suggests that there may be some feelings there. Looking at people’s expectations of genders and the pressures of young women who don’t fit into the idea of being obsessed with their looks, weight and snagging a boy at all costs, it’s a sweet and rather charming short.
7 out of 10
Blood & Water – dir. Emily Iason (USA)
A young British student in New York loves partying, having fun and one-night stands, although her hedonistic life might be causing her to neglect her studies. After being invited to a party thrown by one of her professors, she decides to make a move on her teacher. This starts a difficult relationship between the two, with Flo pushing for more but the professor knowing that nothing ought to happen. Blood & Water is an interesting look at the experimentation and vacillating tendencies of youth, as well as playing on the power dynamics between a student and teacher.
7 out of 10
Two Girls Against The Rain – dir. Sopheak Sao (Cambodia)
It’s often difficult to know what it’s like to be gay in other countries and cultures, but this short documentary gives us a small insight into love in extraordinary circumstances. It tells the story of two women who fell in love in Cambodia during the ravages of the Khmer Rouge. After surviving that regime, they began to live together, despite being in an area where such things were never heard of. Their love still survives now. It’s a fascinating insight into life and cultural change for LGBT people in a culture we are perhaps not familiar with. While short, it’s also surprisingly moving.
9 out of 10
Almost Obsolete – dir. James Cook (UK)
After having major problems with her girlfriend, Chris decides to go on spur of the moment road trip to Brighton to see her gay friend, Michael. While they’ve been somewhat out of touch, their reconnection proves potent, with a night out ending far differently for both of them than they’d hoped. It brings into relief that 10 years have passed since they lived together, and that one of them may have moved on and changed, while the other one is much the same. While the lure of going back to the hedonism of youth is enticing for Chris, she also feels she’s – rightly or wrongly – been looking for something else. Sometimes sexy, well-acted and with some interesting idea, Almost Obsolete is a sweet and touching look at the changes age and responsibility bring, the pain of getting over a breakup, and the different people we can be.
7 out of 10
Lit – dir. Elena Oxman (USA)
Two women meet in a bar, with one of them thinking they’re headed for a hook-up. However, rather than going back to one of their houses, they end up heading off on a trip around San Francisco. As with some of the other shorts, Lit is intrigued about the power play between people, here questioning whether a ‘butch’ lesbian who thinks she’s in charge, may actually be both emotionally and physically reliant on the other woman. It questions what they’re both looking for and how appearances can be deceptive, as well as the fact that ‘butch’ and ‘femme’ may suggest rigid gender roles, but the reality is more complex.
6 out of 10
Overall Verdict: A great selection of lesbian-themed short films, taking in an interesting mixture of themes and ideas. It’s also a good showcase for some very talented female filmmakers.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac