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last update 10.Apr.10
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
24th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
Shorts shown as part of the festival in March 2010.
dir-scr Jamie Travis
with William Cuddy, Ricardo Hoyos, Tammy Isbell, David Keeley, Maggie Huculak, Dennis James
As with his other films, Jamie Travis creates a remarkably detailed world in which biting black humour cuts through the colourful surfaces. This one centres on Aaron (Cuddy), who's best friend Tony (Hoyos) has gone missing after a game of hide and seek. As the community mobilises to look for him, Aaron remains strangely focussed on the armoire in his bedroom. Tony isn't inside, but something happened there. And then his memory starts to come back. The film combines comedy and suspense, but even more effectively gets under the skin of this pre-teen who clearly is having feelings he can't understand. Travis is seriously gifted at catching the innocence and cruelty of children, with scenarios that make us laugh even as we are terrified about what might happen next, as well as being reminded of those strange, unexplainable emotions of youth. And adulthood, for that matter.
See also: THE SADDEST BOY IN THE WORLD • 29.Mar.10
dir-scr Adrian Garcia Gomez
This film's whispery, creepy tone feels like David Lynch by way of Matthew Barney as it follows a young man into a dark woods and to a black tower, where he goes through a ritual in search of the god of thunder. The film is awash in wind, birds, leafless trees and darkly churning oceans, plus the guy's moody internal monolog (in Spanish). It's vague and strange, but also strikingly well shot, with gorgeous photography and artful editing, plus a jarring, evocative sound mix. Watching it is surprisingly powerful, as the overwhelming sensuality of it all washes over us. Unsurprisingly, filmmaker Garcia Gomez is actually an artist whose work examines race, spirituality and sexuality, all of which are alluded to in this film.
dir Steve Reinke, James Richards
This was created as the filmmakers sent clips back and forth from Chicago to London to curate a screening. And indeed, it feels more like an art gallery installation than an actual short film (it's also not very short). The running theme seems to be gender roles, and the film is a free-form collage of found footage, home movies, film scenes (including Bambi and Carrie) and most notably children's television programmes edited together in a remarkably playful way. The result is witty and provocative, darting from webcam porn to an extended Sesame Street scene of proto-Muppets eerily defining the members of a family (the uncle needs a moustache, naturally). Throw in some documentary clips, a young girl narrating home movies of herself as an infant and a woman bathing in what looks like a bathtub full of chocolate. It all feels extremely random, with some oddly compelling juxtapositions, anachronistic music and sound, and a lot of very clever observation simply in the selection of the images. But it's so long that it's hard to keep your mind from wandering.
|Fridays Child Fredagsbarn
dir-scr Tom Kietz
with Bjarke Sørensen, Frej Lorenzen
Witty camera work and a strikingly visual approach to storytelling turn this slim story into something enjoyably involving as skinny teen Rune (Sorensen) flees his home on a grim housing estate. He looks like a fairy tale character strolling through the industrial wasteland in his bright yellow raincoat. Then he runs into Benjamin (Lorenzen), his brother's friend, and a quiet connection develops over a series of encounters. Clearly they're both outsiders. Rune shares his love for the Smiths, while Benjamin only seems interested in painting graffiti. Later, Benjamin offers to teach Rune how to kiss if he'll loan him a Smiths album. Through just a few nicely understated scenes, their developing friendship is tentative, awkward and often quite funny, as these two boys finally find someone who might understand them. A thoroughly charming short.
dir-scr Rikki Beadle-Blair
with Ian Sharp, Aaron Taylor, Duncan MacInnes,
Alison Playford, Caroline Deverill, Christopher Panayi
There's a vaguely offensive tone to this short, which paints Soho's gay scene as it if was some sort of funfair freak show. And the plot is somewhat deliberate and nonsensical. But it's still watchable, thanks to an energetic pace and off-centre performances by actors making the most of their awkward roles. The story centres on nice guy Mark (Sharp), who for his 21st birthday is taken to Soho by his chucklehead friend Dean (Taylor). Drunkenly latching onto a pair of drag queen hookers (MacInnes and Panayi), Dean is clearly actually hoping to hook up with Mark. So when Mark freaks out, he's a little shaken. But he immediately finds two female prostitutes (Playford and Deverill), and they go back to their place for sex, where of course several unexpected things happen. The idea at the centre is clever, as summed up in Dean's simple question, "Are you curious or not?" But filmmaker Beadle-Blair overeggs everything, with a constant flow of lurid silliness, including lots of smeared lipstick (which no one ever wipes off) and jarring plotting. In a way, this chaotic structure makes the most of the premise, even though it's never remotely believable or engaging.
|If the Shoe Fits
dir-scr Chris Scherer
with Chris Scherer, Pennii Traitor, Pashion Couture
Bright and cheeky, like a hallucinatory dream, this short film is a raucous exploration of a night of cottaging in a remote public toilet, where a young guy (played by filmmaker Scherer) has an encounter with a pair of drag queens (Traitor and Couture). The film is assembled with a kaleidoscopic style, using split screens, out-of-sequence editing, stills and a scratchy sound mix to throw us into the situation. And the toilet itself is a riot of eye-catching stage-lighting, glimpses of bondage gear and some very silly choreography. It also looks terrific, with a clever use of projection and graphics, all of which combine to create a tone that's like the cross between wish-fulfillment fantasy and a harrowing but vividly colourful nightmare. In the end, we're not quite sure what this film is trying to say (that anonymous sex is both fun and scary?), but the lush and bold filmmaking makes it an enjoyable ride.
dir Konstantinos Menelaou, Marlon Rueberg
with Matthew Camp
Shot on Super 8 in grainy black and white with a delicate Rachmaninov score, this film is a series of clips of dancer Matthew Camp in an empty house, lounging in bed, doing push-ups and handstands, cooking in the kitchen and staring out the window. There isn't much to it, but it's shot with real artistry, never using a straight-on camera shot while catching glimpses of Camp from odd angles. He doesn't seem to be wearing any clothing, but this could be an illusion as, aside from the opening shot, we never see much of him, since he's constantly cropped by a doorway, window or the edge of the frame. It's a bit indulgent and lusty, but by remaining mercifully brief it also becomes a thing of beauty, both objectifying and revering this fit specimen of a man from a variety of angles.
dir Hazuan Hashim, Phil Maxwell
with Mavin Khoo
This odd, brief short is a collection of clips from a variety of sources, including old movies, Hindu imagery, stone sculptures and scenes of dancer Mavin Khoo, all accompanied by a song about the moon and looking for love. There's also a voiceover featuring musings about connections between people and the fact that it's possible to really love someone even if you're only with them for 10 minutes. It's an odd experimental short that feels strangely aloof, but is also visually fascinating and enjoyably kitch. And even if it's not always clear how we're meant to connect the variety of images, it's moody and evocative and very short.
dir-scr Dominic Leclerc
with Harry Eden, Linzey Cocker, Tim Dantay
Shot like a full-budget feature, this lushly produced short creates a strong atmosphere through skilful camerawork, editing and sound. It feels almost like a horror film as a young couple, Luke and Ellen (Eden and Cocker), break into an old swimming pool to spend the night together. Prowling the dark corridors, they are spotted by Martin (Dantay), the night watchman, who keeps an eye on them eerily from a distance. But Luke notices, and when Ellen refuses to have sex with him, he starts taunting Martin instead. What follows is a strong exploration of blurred boundaries, jealousy and lust that really gets under the skin. Writer-director Leclerc keeps things effectively off-centre, both pleasingly vague and open to all kinds of possibilities. Eden is particularly good, showing a fearlessness on screen (and not just because of the nudity) that confirms him as one of Britain's brightest young talents.
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall