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AN AMERICAN EYE ON BUTETOWN |
BOYS ON FILM 4: BREATH | HEIKO | POST MORTEM
PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT | STEAM | TREVOR
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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 Dee Rees
with Said Mohamed, Cornell S John, Mukhtar Yaro, Yakuba Bayi, Golda Rosheuvel, Jams Thomas, Lee James, Anita Reynolds
This contained half-hour drama strains to capture the emotions in its story of cultural tensions in the Cardiff Bay community, a neighbourhood of mostly very poor people on some of the most valuable land in Wales. The story centres on Abdi (Mohamed), a young guy recently arrived from Somalia who hooks up with the helpful Nigerian Izi to protest further development and displacement. Through naturalistic camerawork and acting, the film takes a warm, personal approach that plays on the fact that both Abdi and Izi (John) are outsiders through issues of language, culture, religion and sexuality. But all of this is fairly vague, as writer-director Rees only hints at their inner thoughts and feelings, and never quite following through on any of their actions. As a result, we never quite understand what holds these guys together, so the increasingly violent tone and melodramatic dialog never quite rings true.
|An American Eye on Butetown
dir Nathan Landeg
with Dee Rees, Cornell S John, Said Mohamed, Nekisa Cooper, Berwyn Rowlands, Sule Rimi, Kevin McCurdy, Glenn Jordan
This half-hour document follows filmmaker Dee Rees, who won the 2007 Iris Prize that funded the production of her short Colonial Gods, which she set in the home of Iris, Cardiff. In many ways, this is merely a local TV production, following an American crew around the rough side of town as they make their movie. But along the way, the filmmaker not only vividly captures the filmmaking process, but he also sharply catches the differences in culture as Rees tries to understand the society in which she's working. Intriguingly, Rees' short is also a cross-cultural tale, and this dynamic draws some insightful parallels from interviews with the cast and crew. As a result, this film also has a lot to say about the Cardiff Bay community, which has been repeatedly displaced by development and progress.
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
Boys on Film 4: Protect Me From What I Want
There's a gritty edge to this fourth collection of shorts from Peccadillo, including films that touch on race, murder, rape, vandalism, suicide and even suicide bombings. But running through them all is a sense of yearning, the need to make sense of unwanted desires.
release 26.Apr.10 • 10/UK Peccadillo 2h27 • 18 themes, language, nudity • 10.Apr.10
dir Margien Rogaar
scr Tjyying Liu
with Yannick de Waal,Moo Miero, Roeland Fernhout
|Erik (de Waal) is a 12-year-old heading out for a day at a lake with his friend Sofie (Miero) and her father (Fernhout), who's a little too attractive for anyone's good. Sure enough, Erik watches him furtively, develops a crush, then tries to figure out a way to get his attention without making Sofie suspicious. The film is extremely well-directed, holding tightly to Erik's point of view, a perspective that's always a little off-centre and awkward, suggesting hidden desires even he can't understand as his childhood playfulness starts hinting at something else. The film is colourful and sun-drenched, as well as childish and instantly identifiable. Seemingly innocuous things take on much more powerful meaning, and it's pretty amazing that filmmaker Rogaar packs so much drama and warmth into eight minutes without it ever feeling remotely rushed.
dir-scr David Bonneville
with Jaime Freitas, Jose Manuel Mendes
|Home movies on the beach show the playful Heiko (Freitas) doing sit-ups, sleeping, running. Then we see him arriving home, where he lives with his much-older lover (Mendes), taunting and teasing him to the breaking point and beyond. He may be a nice-looking young guy, but it's hard to imagine putting up with his nonsense. And sure enough, the older man doesn't. Shot like a stylish feature, with extremely clever camera work and strongly believable acting, the film is blackly funny and thoroughly unsettling, partly because of the lack of background music and partly because the story gets bleak and creepy as it implies that things are going to just get worse and worse before the end. There's clearly a love-hate-adoration-destruction thing going on between these guys. Filmmaker Bonneville kind of pads things out and lets the narrative meander (an odd mistake in a short), but it's watchable because we really can't imagine where it's headed.
dir-scr Eldar Rapaport
with Murray Bartlett, Daniel Dugan, Francisco Valera, Jeff Rynkiewicz
|In a trendy cafe in New York City, ex-lovers Troy and Thomas (Bartlett and Dugan) meet to catch up. Clearly there's a difficult history here, and they're trying to make sense of things and move on. Troy cautiously asks about Thomas' new boyfriend Raul (Valera), who turns up on his scooter. Over coffee, their conversation pokes and prods at old wounds, but it's when they meet later that lines are blurred a bit. It's a sharply well-assembled film, keeping us gripped to what is essentially a low-key conversation between two guys over a coffee. But adept camerawork, smart editing and likeably flippant performances make it thoroughly involving. We definitely want to see where this is going, and the continued glances and physicality are cleverly telling as the events take some surprising twists. An intriguing, realistic look at how difficult it can be to break old connections.
|Protect Me From What I Want
dir-scr Dominic Leclerc
with Elliott Tittensor, Naveed Choudhury
|Atmospheric and challenging, this skilfully assembled drama really gets under the skin as it looks at two distinct young men who are both terrified that someone will find out they're gay, but for very different reasons. In Leeds, two students meet in an alleyway. The timid Saleem (Choudhury) won't let the more confident Daz (Tittensor) kiss him, then gets skittish and runs away, forgetting his bag. So Daz chases him down and asks him to go for one drink. Saleem runs off again, seeing a guy and girl snogging on the street and clearly wishing for the same thing with a man, but knowing his family would never accept it. What follows is a sensitive, quietly sexy encounter in which these two guys try to overcome their barriers. There's a nicely underplayed honesty to this film that never shouts its themes. The dialog is earthy and funny, and almost beside the point, merely pointing at unspoken attitudes and feelings rather than trying to say everything. To make this work requires delicate, effectively tenuous performances, and the actors are more than up to the challenge. A stunningly well-made short.
dir-scr Eldar Rapaport
with Scott Alan Hislop, Julien Zeitouni, Amy Clites
|A guy (Zeitouni) nervously sits in a steamroom aware that he's being watched by another guy (Hislop). After a sexual encounter they look at each other sheepishly, and one heads for the door. But he can't find it, and both of them begin to panic. "Maybe we deserve this," says the first guy. "Oh, you're one of those religious folk," says the other. What begins as sexy and suggestive scene turns into a blackly comical thriller with cautionary overtones about cruising for anonymous sex. "We're in hell," says one. "It seems like heaven to me," says the other. "Well, a hot one." And things keep shifting from here. It's extremely well shot and edited, creating a real sense of claustrophobia and offbeat intensity as these two men just want to be away from each other but can't escape. And the actors add natural subtext even with the minimalistic script, which plays with stereotypes and expectations while building an increasingly surreal and unsettling tone, adding clever details until the haunting final twist.
dir Peggy Rajski
scr James Lecesne
with Brett Barsky, Stephen Tobolowsky, Cory Miller, Jonah Rooney, Judy Kain, John Lizzi, Allen Dorane, Lindsay Pomerantz
Trevor (Barsky) is a young teen in 1981 who's obsessed with Diana Ross and on the verge of puberty, struggling to figure out who he is. He's also a bit preoccupied with death, thrilled to be friends with the school hunk (Rooney) and curious about sex and girls. Although he has other things on his mind as well. This Oscar-winning short is cleverly narrated through Trevor's diary entries, which reveal key clues about what he's going through and why he feels so dirty when he thinks about naked men. This is an extremely well-made, timeless short film that resonates as loudly today as it must have back when it was made in the early 1990s. It does kind of feel like the pilot for a Wonder Years-style TV series, although it's far too honest for an American network. The humour is bold, pointed and extremely dry, which makes it that much more engaging. And also strongly emotional. Especially when Trevor comments that he doesn't understand why everyone thinks he has changed, when he's still just himself.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall