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Indies, foreign, docs and shorts...
|See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 30.Mar.20
34th BFI Flare shorts...
London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival • held virtually, 18-29.Mar.20 Reviews by Rich Cline | Page 2 of 3
dir Jean-Baptiste Huong
scr Jean-Baptiste Huong, Nicolas Mapache
with Samuel de Sagas, Andrew Sheather, Stephane Rideau, Giovanni Nigro, Jad Roy, Benat Olea Irureta, Antoine Dutot, Raphael Hauchecorne
Because Youre Mine À LOrée
A man walks through an empty city at night, pausing to read a letter, clearly emotionally distraught. In voiceover (by Rideau), he thinks about someone he misses as he then wanders through the woods to a lake, seeing a vision of a man coming from the water.
The film is beautifully edited with a powerful emotional resonance, an internalised expression of loss, the knowledge that this lost lover will always have a place in his heart. He knows he needs to forget the feeling of his skin, even as he knows he can't. As his imagination takes him from the past to the future, the film gets increasingly tactile, an explicit slow-motion encounter between a group of imaginary men in the forest. Skilfully shot and assembled in a way that creates a lusty sense of physicality, the film is visceral and moving, a darkly provocative cry of yearning and grief for a relationship that's over. It's a tender, sad, sexy and even faintly hopeful look into the soul of the lovelorn.
dir-scr Christopher Cosgrove
with Nicolai Lafayette, Adam Sollis
This witty Aussie short opens as a young nerd (Sollis) brings a beardy guy (Lafayette) back to his room, which is packed to the rafters with sci-fi books, films, posters and memorabilia. But just as they begin to get amorous, things turn very serious as the guest struggles to admit something about himself that perhaps might be a dealbreaker. What follows is a remarkably honest discussion as they open up to each other.
Superbly shot in a skilfully decorated set, this is a strikingly well-made and cleverly acted little film, pointed and sweet, making a gentle observation on an issue most people would never think about, but which resonates unexpectedly on a variety of levels. The shift in subject is a bit jarring, from funny-romantic to suddenly topical, but filmmaker Cosgrove and his cast navigate it perfectly, making the point without making a big deal of it.
dir-scr Matthew Puccini
with Manny Dunn, Morgan Sullivan, Sean Patrick Higgins
The title has a multiplicity of meanings, starting with the opening shot of a laundry basket, but the primary reference is more deliberately sexual, which means that the film has a very specific audience. It's a little drama about a pivotal moment in the lives of Graham and Marco (Dunn and Sullivan), teens who sneak out of class and head off to Marco's empty house to lose their virginities one afternoon. Although this doesn't quite go as expected.
This is played quietly and thoughtfully, with a very slight hint of black comedy, offering a clear connection between these two guys as they talk through what they're doing. The dialog is relaxed and natural, and the actors keep things very realistic, never shying away from the crux of the story. Where it goes is properly sweet, an earthy portrayal of the warm connection between these two young men. It's also a very rare film that takes on something almost no one wants to talk about.
dir-scr Abel Rubinstein
with Pete MacHale, Ludovic Jean-Francois, Atlanta Hayward
A day in the life of a young couple, this brief British short centres on Blake (MacHale), a trans man, and his boyfriend Cane (Jean-Francois). They play videogames, talk about their masculinity and get their flatmate Rachel (Hayward) to paint their nails. There are a couple of minor incidents, and one serious discussion, but mainly this is about young people just having a bit of fun. The title refers to Blake's choice of clothing for the day.
Their relationship is warm and funny, and filmmaker Rubinstein is very realistic in the way he approaches their interaction. Performances are offhanded and natural, and the doc-style camerawork is sunny and colourful. It's a tiny little slice of life, warm and funny, and it features some remarkably pointed elements that are cleverly thrown away. So it makes the audience smile, and might teach them a couple of things too.
dir-scr Mark Pariselli
with Neil Paterson, Tarick Glancy, Matt Haffner, Peter Campbell, Tracy Woods, Fox Udolloess, Dave Udolloress
Shot to feel like a feature film, this story kicks off as a couple, Cal and Jamal (Paterson and Glancy), take a road trip from the city to the countryside. The first hint that something might be wrong is when, during a stop at a pumpkin farm, they walk into a dried-up cornfield where they spot a child crying. Then as day turns to night, they're involved in a collision with a pedestrian on a country road. And they struggle to work out what to do about it.
The film is particularly well-shot in a range of striking locations, and the script quietly raises big issues, such as how Jamal questions Cal's desire to have a child so his parents will be more accepting. Then as a nice day turns into a nightmare, the tension between them grows, leading them in some truly horrific directions. While this allows the film to grow increasingly provocative, challenging the audience to respond, there are more events coming that will further play with our sympathies and perhaps undermine the good will we might have been feeling toward them. This is a solid little thriller with a series of very nasty twists in its tail.
dir-scr Joao Candido Zacharias
with Mauricio Jose, Lucas Canavarro, Victor Gorgulho
The Last Romantics Os Últimos Românticos
In a single long take, a young guy recounts a night in a packed cinema when he reached out and touched the arm of a cute guy next to him, leading to a sexual encounter that no one else could see. This leads to some unexpected feelings, awkwardness and self-doubt as he watches the rest of the movie. In a second shot, we then hear the same story from the other guy's perspective, as he recounts it while lounging with his boyfriend. Of course, his version of the story is slightly different, and the thing his boyfriend resents is that he went to see the film without him. Although he has a similar story to share as well.
This is very simply shot, with a static camera and no edits, but the actors fill the frame cleverly, especially in the second half where they interact realistically, joking and cuddling. It's deceptively understated, but cleverly conceived and staged to hold the attention as these three guys spin their tales about random furtive attraction, which of course has absolutely nothing to do with romance.
dir-scr Asher Jelinsky
with Jesse James Keitel, Ryan Cutrona, Alexandra Grey, Travis Hammer, Carter Ray, Stephen Moffatt, Connie Ventress, Randy Crowder
Miller & Son
Low-key and grounded, this rural American drama centres on gifted young mechanic Ryan (Keitel) who works for his father (Cutrona) and swaps banter with his laddish colleague Grant (Hammer). But by night Ryan has another life, heading to the disco as a trans woman, dancing with his friend Lucy (Grey), who stands up for her when she's harassed by guys in the street.
The film is finely shot and edited, with an almost hushed quality to it as silences are allowed to stretch meaningfully within the scenes, all while Ryan watches the world and worries that her carefully constructed duality won't last forever. Indeed, something happens that she isn't quite sure how to deal with, threatening the way she has so carefully compartmentalised her life. Writer-director Jelinsky and this gifted cast approach the story with a gritty, warm honesty that gets under the skin. This is a moving story beautifully told, skilfully avoiding melodrama by saying everything with minimal fuss.
dir Timothy Smith
scr Teresa Cisneros, So Mayer, Timothy Smith, Valentino Vecchietti, Campbell X
Queering Di Teknolojik
Set out as a transmission from the future, this experimental British short is spoken as a collective voice addressing present-day humanity. "You made things better," they assure us along with footage of 1960s civil rights marches, for example. It's a message of hope about our history yet to come, about the series of movements led mostly by women and queer people, small groups addressing specific issues, inspired by scientists and academics to make the world a better place. With its offbeat grammar and spelling (trying to approximate our language today), the film speaks of the three-pronged approach needed to stop global collapse: "de-kolonial, anti-kapitalist and environmental". The only way to move forward is to dissolve borders, merge languages and respect the earth.
In addition to to newsreel footage and some seriously eye-catching imagery, there are also very cool animation and effects work stirred into the mix. It's perhaps a bit densely put together, so some of the message feels somewhat arch and even preachy. But it's packed with clever observations and commentary, as well as a plea that we keep resisting, never give up. "Please become us."
BFI Flare shorts: Page 2 of 3 • MORE >
See also: FIVE FILMS FOR FREEDOM 2020
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall
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