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Reviews by Rich Cline | See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 30.Aug.20

New Queer Visions: Right Beside You  
Reviews by Rich Cline
Right Beside You
release UK/US 31.Aug.20 20/UK NQV 1h35


high tide
There are five dramatic short films from five countries in this collection, each exploring unexpected angles on companionship. There are queer elements within the stories, but none of them are actually about sex or sexuality. They centre on evolving friendships that take a turn, and the filmmakers intimately catch how important it is to have someone to connect with. And how painful it is to even contemplate going through life alone. The final film (pictured above), from the Netherlands, is a mini-masterpiece.
SEEING IS BELIEVING < NEW QUEER VISIONS > RIGHT BESIDE YOU

My Mother's Lovers dir Samuel C Montes de Oca Leon
scr Elizabeth Moleres
with Cesar Acosta, Alonso Esponda, Sandra Burgos, Francisco Torres, Regina Ortega, Natalia Aguilar, Giselle Martinez, Hugo Trevino
20/Mexico 22m



My Mother’s Lovers  
Los Novios de Mi Madre   3.5/5

esponda and acosta There's an ethereal quality to this Mexican short that makes it feel almost fantastical, with slow camera movement, quiet conversations and internalised performances. It's a sharply well shot drama with a familiar premise and a nicely offhanded sense of honesty about the characters and the situation they find themselves in.

A shy teen, Cesar (Acosta) has a secret crush on his best friend Pablo (Esponda), who wants to become a model, or maybe a football star, and is very popular with the girls at school. Seeking a chance to express his feelings, Cesar invites Pablo to stay over for the night. While Cesar tries to be cool, his mother Luisa (Burgos) asks too many questions and also flirts openly with Pablo, who returns interest. After they go to sleep, Pablo sneaks out of the room to see her, leading to some painful conversations in the morning.

The interaction between the young actors is strong, and they play each scene with natural rhythms that hint at a range of layers in their friendship. The dialog is written with a strong sense of the characters and their inner struggles, and much of what happens is heartbreaking as seen through Pablo's yearning perspective. This is a dark and truthful look at how it feels to hide yourself from everyone around you, looking for someone who understands. And because the writer resists finding an easy answer, the film is genuinely moving.


Bootyful dir-scr Francois Barbier
with Flore Bonaventura, Karim Camara, Lea Lounda, Julien Lerigoleur, Jean-Francois Ballanger, Arthur Gillet
19/France 13m



Bootyful  
  4/5

camara There's an earthy, almost fly-on-the-wall authenticity to this witty French short, which photographs the characters in close-up as they interact, right next to each other, pushing each other's buttons. It's a beautifully observed slice of life that has something important to say about how important it is to make the effort to understand each other.

When the colourful Sacha (Camara) arrives for an evening of drinking and dancing, Estelle (Bonaventura) isn't sure what to make of him. Heavily made-up and dressed in revealing clothes, he's unlike anyone she's ever met. She finds it hard to accept it when he tells her that he's gay, and she still tries to seduce him. But he's the one who seduces her with his confident sexuality and deep-running feelings. As they go out dancing with party-girl Garance (Lounda), the night takes several unexpected turns. The biggest is when Sacha is cornered by an aggressive guy (Lerigoleur) in the club.

The actors play the roles with relaxed energy, sparking off each other in a way that's funny but never comical. Each is likeable and real. And the contrast between Sacha's unapologetic flamboyance and Estelle's buttoned-up awkwardness is played without resorting to cliches. It's especially nice to spot her quiet curiosity early on, then later as she begins to understand the reality of Sacha's life. So the way they meet in the middle is properly touching.


Only What You Need to Know About Me dir-scr Maria Augusta V Nunes
with Alice Doro, Aleff Resler, Rafael Gregorio, Joao Henrique Lemos, Gabriel da Silva Velho, Larissa Neves, Berra, Zalui
18/Brazil 15m



Only What You Need to Know About Me  

Apenas o Que Você Precisa Saber Sobre Mim
  4/5

doro and resler Edgy and intimate, this Brazilian short centres on two skaters who develop an unexpected friendship. It's skilfully shot mainly using handheld camerawork that catches the feeling of young people hanging out in a variety of real-world locations. The storytelling is extremely subtle, leaving the audience to fill in the details. And the settings are superb, including an energetic rap battle.

The story centres on Laura (Doro), who injures her hand in a fall. Fabio (Resler) comes to her assistance, and there's a spark of interest between them as they meet up for subsequent days of skateboarding around the city. But as they become closer, Laura continues to maintain her distance. And when she suddenly vanishes Fabio doesn't know how to find her, since she won't answer her phone and she doesn't use Facebook. So he starts searching for her, and discovers her secret.

There's a gentle sense of urgency to this drama, as it becomes clear from the start that Laura is wary of everyone around her, afraid to let Fabio in. She's not hiding per se, but is guarding her privacy as the title suggests. Both actors play their roles with offhanded authenticity that's beautifully understated. So their confrontation scene is quiet and powerful. In the end, the film says several important things about how our culture conditions us to respond to anyone who isn't like us. And of course how vital it is to be true to ourselves.



A L S O   O N
Right Beside You

Junk
Junk
 
dir-scr Joe Morris
with Luke Dunsmore, Connor Ryan,
Tara Moran, Martin Hancock, Ian
Peck, David Barrass
11/UK 24m 3/5

Reviewed at Iris Prize Festival 2011

High Tide
High Tide
  Stille Dorst
dir-scr Claire Zhou
with Joshua Albano, Mouad Ben-Chaib,
Floor von Vloten
18/Netherlands 22m 5/5

Reviewed at BFI Flare 2019




cert 15 themes, language, violence 30.Aug.20


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