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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 3 of 3

hesme and abita dir Benjamin Busnel
scr Benjamin Busnel, Clement Peny
with Clotilde Hesme, Noee Abita, Solal Forte, Laurent Jeanne, Christophe Plessis, Tony Lelarge
18/France 20m

Came the Wave  
  Vint la Vague     3h/5

Came the Wave Artfully visual, this short thriller opens at a quiet home in the middle of a French forest, where Dom (Hesme) greets Mathilde (Abita), the daughter of her late friend. This leads to an unexpected romance. Then they learn that a huge tidal wave has hit Europe, followed by a pandemic that infects women. Grieving, fearful and isolated, they realise that their life will now be about survival, made worse when their one link to the outside world, a radio, dies. "We're at war, babe," Dom tells Mathilde, warning her that predatory men can no longer be trusted. So they arm up and prepare to defend their corner of the forest. Then when Mathilde's friend Pascal (Forte) arrives looking for his sister, they're put to the test.

There's an offbeat energy to this beautifully shot and edited film, as it plays with gender issues in an extreme scenario. Both Hesme and Abita are terrific in the central roles as women who clash about how to deal with this situation. As they take their own style of action and begin to drive each other crazy, filmmaker Busnel develops a strong intensity, including freak-out undercurrents of violence that erupt in unexpected directions. So in the end it leaves us wanting a lot more.

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souk dir Christopher McGill
scr Angela Ross, Christopher McGill
with David Souk, Anne Bankier, Ian Graham, Ian Andrew Perry, Jack McPhail, Marios Ento-Engkolo, Max Crawford, Lee-Ann Webster
19/UK 9m


Crypsis Based on real-life stories, this darkly involving Scottish short offers a glimpse into an aspect of the asylum system rarely depicted. The title refers to the ability animals have to avoid being seen by others. The story centres on Ayo (Souk), a refugee being interviewed by a government official (Bankier) about fleeing his homeland due to death threats. She grills him about being homosexual and tells him he needs to submit evidence. So he heads to a gay nightclub to get some photographs. But for a man with his background, it's overwhelmingly difficult for him to be open about who he is, even in a safe space.

Watching this man confront both his self-image and his violent past is powerful, thanks to particularly insightful acting and filmmaking. This topical drama is strikingly well shot and played, highlighting an important theme in Britain's broken system for refugees, which treats them as criminals rather than victims and forces them to relive their worst nightmares while piling on even more bigotry and mistrust. Instead of preaching, the film simply presents a potent emotional resonance that touches on a serious theme.

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Memoirs of a Geeza dir-scr Theo James Krekis
with Elliot Warren, Tony Richardson, Nico Marraccino, Olivia Brady, Thomas Orme, Samson Marraccino
19/UK 3m

Memoirs of a Geeza  

Memoirs of a Geeza This brief British short unfolds as a collage of home movies over which a working class South Londoner (Warren) recalls images from his childhood, starting in 1987 on a day out to Southend. "Me mother always said I had a sting in my tail," he says, jokingly referring to the fact that he's a Scorpio. He also remembers roughhousing with his friends, playing furtively under the stairs and being called names by other kids. He also recalls a specific boy in 1994, laughs about his curly hair, and thinks about the day he was caught by his father (Richardson) while painting his toenails bright pink, surprised that Dad joined him rather than shouting at him. And then there's moving to Gibraltar, meeting his first boyfriend and being assaulted in the street.

Through all of this his family defends him against bigotry. "Perception's a funny thing," he observes repeatedly. Filmmaker Krekis packs a whole life into three minutes, capturing a range of experiences and emotions that are remarkably raw and complex, never remotely glib. The imagery is grainy Super 8-style footage, catching flashes of life in every shot while echoing the sense of haunting memories. Frankly, this is a stunning mini-epic.

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radmall-quirke dir-scr Nichola Wong
with Natalie Radmall-Quirke, Amy Tyger, Ellie Goffe, Sarah Toogood, Flavia Lloyd, Trevor Murphy, Michael Brophy, Ella Robinson, Paula Drewicz
19/UK 15m

The Passing  

The Passing Clearly frustrated in cold marriage to a gruff man (Murphy), mortician Yasmine (Radmall-Quirke) livens up her morgue with flowers. But today is more difficult than usual, because she recognises the body she has to embalm as someone she once knew. As she gets to work, she can't help her mind from wandering back through their warm and sometimes lively connection over the years (played by Tyger and Goffe in flashback). This of course adds tension to her day, as well as some overpowering emotions as she thinks back to how their lives developed since they last saw each other. The script and editing are a little elusive, flickering into flashbacks that offer some rather hazy hints about their friendship and a deeper connection they perhaps shared. But it's gorgeously photographed with a terrific sense of visual detail, and writer-director Wong builds a powerful mood that sparks all of the senses. Some of the flashback sequences feel indulgent, but they resonate with powerfully suggested emotions as a woman thinks about what life might have been had she been free to live her truth. And maybe this will give her the strength to live more honestly now.

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kingdon-prouty dir-scr Justin Ducharme
with MacKenzie Kingdon-Prouty, Michael Henderson, John Woods, Abby de Forest, Jonina Kirton
18/Canada 12m


Positions This soft-spoken Canadian short centres on Aaron (Kingdon-Prouty), a young Native American who moves to the big city to make some cash as a sex worker. His clients are mainly married men, and their encounters are played in brief blackout scenes. Some of these men are warm and kind, others are ignorant and condescending. He also meets up with a woman (de Forest) who's hoping to save her marriage by seeing him with her husband.

All of this plays out in a way that's thoughtful and introspective, never judgmental or preachy, briefly nodding to native cultural issues. It's eye-catchingly shot and edited in the style of a feature, with superbly subtle performances from the cast. And the script quietly explores Aaron's feelings about himself, as he seeks to understand himself better and maintain control over his sexuality and what he does with his body. It's a remarkably unapologetic little film, recounting a realistic story with a vivid sense of the people and their internal journeys.

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nyenwe and stein dir-scr James Corley
with Chim Nyenwe, Craig Stein, Neena Afua-Nsafoah, Raphael Akuwudike
19/UK 11m

The Scene  

The Scene Living alone in London and killing time with videogames, David (Nyenwe) is bored with his single life when his ex-husband Troy (Stein) turns up at his door and tries to talk him into heading out for a night of clubbing. David has no interest in hitting the scene again, but Troy talks him into cleaning himself up and getting out. "You look hot," Troy says. "I look old," David moans.

Writer-director Corley finely observes the interaction between these men who were once much closer but still have a tight connection. Their conversation is witty and engaging, as they playfully spur each other on while grappling with their own insecurities. It's a very simple idea, and thankfully Corley resists the temptation to simply bring these two guys back together romantically, instead opting for something more complex and interesting. And both Nyemwe and Stein play their roles with honesty and warm humour, offering a powerful sense of the way a deep connection never quite goes away.

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beauchamp and cusati-moyer dir-scr Tyler Rabinowitz
with Jonny Beauchamp, James Cusati-Moyer
19/US 16m

See You Soon  

See You Soon After chatting online for two months, two cute young men are finally going to meet. Vincent (Beauchamp) flies from Los Angeles to New York to see Anthony (Cusati-Moyer). They connect strongly in person, learning new things about each other, such as that they have different religious backgrounds and both play piano. Neither has ever done anything like this before, and they begin to fall for each other. So neither of them want to this visit to end.

The film is finely photographed and edited, with a warm sense of likeable energy in each scene. Both actors are effortless, relaxed and nicely understated as these two young men begin to learn how to be around each other. It's sweet and romantic, focussing on the way these guys look at each other, more about casual contact than passion, although it goes there too in a hushed, witty way. The film is perhaps a bit too polished and wistful for its own good, remaining adorably beautiful: a dreamy, sentimental fantasy that offers these young men a break from real life.

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To Be Heard dir-scr Sahary Molina, Luis Gomez, Julio Rengel, Alice Carolina Filipa Fontes, Davis Marcona, Vicente Jordano Barreto Jimenez
19/Brazil 26m

To Be Heard  
  Hazte Sentir     4/5

To Be Heard The documentary tells the story of three young Venezuelans rescued by Brazil's first shelter for LGBT refugees, which is in Manaus, the largest city on the Amazon. The film was made collaboratively by current and former residents of Casa Miga, who interviewed each other for the film. Each of them speaks about hiding his or her sexuality from their families, even though everyone knew they were different. And they still face everyday prejudice as they try to live and find work.

The film opens with a smiley young man studying Portuguese. The first words he learned as a child were "I am hungry", because in Venezuela only the wealthy can afford to eat. He narrates his story, crossing the border with his boyfriend and entering a horrific, dangerous situation, separated because they were gay. As a doctor, Luis left Venezuela because there was no medicine. He was shocked to lose his home and country, and thinks of this as temporary. And a young trans woman speaks of not having a father because he told her to forget him, although he's now written asking for forgiveness. Her story includes abandonment and sex work. And she found love with a young guy whose family still thinks he's straight.

Each of these people speaks about individuals and groups who offered lifelines, rescuing them from what they're fully aware could have become so much worse. And even now there are huge challenges in front of each of them, simply because of who they are. Nicely shot and sharply edited, the film's no-frills approach quickly gets under the skin. It also captures day-to-day details in ways that are fresh and earthy, mercifully including moments of sharp humour. Because the hard truth is that someone is killed in a homophobic attack in Brazil every 16 hours.

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BFI Flare shorts: Page 3 of 3


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