LLGFF Short Films
Selected short films shown at the British Film Institute's 15th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 28 March - 11 April 2001.

Any chance to see short films on a big screen should be siezed upon!
(Be warned about the images on this page--they're not obscene but may offend some visitors.)
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WAR STORY
dir-scr John Baumgartner; with John Baumgartner, Abraham Benrubi, Alex Greer, Amber Phillips, Tony Pandolfo; 01/US 30m

An homage to Charlie Chaplin silent films, this was actually filmed using a hand-cranked camera! And the sweet storyline works very nicely, as it draws on silent film traditions to blend slapstick with touching romance. Set in 1918, the story follows the Chaplinesque Metly (played by writer-director Baumgartner) who gets a job as a waiter in a cafe but is bullied by his coworker (Benrubi) and berated by his boss (Pandolfo). And they don't even know that he's gay--if they did it would be much worse, as he witnesses. Then two customers show him some kindness: a lovely woman (Phillips) and a young man (Greer) who is heading for the Great War. The story is simple and unsurprising, but the film springs to life in the details--clever camera work and direction, with tiny touches that make it very endearing and, ultimately, moving. Baumgartner might not be in Chaplin's league as an actor, but he more than makes up for it with sheer charm. 30.Mar.01

THE REVENGE OF THE RED BALLOON
dir Gregg Rossen; with Vincent Kerleau, Salvatore Mingoia, Jacques Gallo, Andre Gaillard, Philippe Pascot; 00/US 8m

Hilarious continuation of that notorious school film from France, only this time the balloon can use its string to get back at the kids who popped it 40 years earlier. Very inventive and funny as the balloon travels around Paris dispatching its tormentors in increasingly elaborate ways, while in search of the one child who loved it all those years ago. Somehow manages to capture, exactly, the spirit of the original ... with a nasty twist! For all of us who suffered through that maudlin film year after year, it's finally payback time. 8.Apr.01

DIZZY
dir-scr Andrew Hull; with David Christo, Jonathon Rothman, Max Charles, Margorie Wingrove, Kim Roberts; Canada/99 19m

This simple slice of observation is quite effective, as a young man (Christo) wonders about the impact of the spinning world and waves of nausea that hit us at key moments. We follow him from the Toronto airport to Sydney, by way of flashbacks to his life in Berlin with a boyfriend (Rothman) he misses desperately. Very nicely observed and played, and filmed with a true global perspective showing how small the world is, yet how distant people we care about can be. 30.Mar.01

GIFTS
dir-scr Jean-Pascal Hattu; with Manuel Vallade, Jeanne-Claire Marchand, Claudine Delvaux, Pierre Blais, Jean Fornerod; 00/France 20m

An oblique, slightly chaotic short film set during a traditional family New Year celebration in which 20-year-old Antoine not only can't afford to buy the expected presents for everyone, but all he can think of is the argument he had with his boyfriend. Meanwhile, the family prattles on and on about nothing much, and his guilt and depression grows. Shot with a grainy, dark authenticity, the film has a raw energy to it that draws us in, even if nothing much really happens ... and we're never quite sure what's going on between the lines, right up to the open-handed finale. Intriguing, but also a bit irritating. 31.Mar.01

SAFE SEX
dir Chuck Griffith; with Steve Burkhardt, Craig Burke, Patrick Robert Bergeron; 00/US 9m

At a rather sedate party, two gay men talk about the scene, take drugs and look for guys to take home. While Brook (Burke) goes on the prowl, Jake (Burkhardt) meets a nice guy (Bergeron) and takes him home, hoping to start a serious relationship. But of course there's a twist in the tale ... and it makes this otherwise breezy little short film a bit creepy and distasteful. 8.Apr.01

LOST CAUSE
dir Glenn Gayford; with Nic Arnzen, Andrea LaBella, Rene Sandoval, Les Kurkendaal, Mary Jasionowski; 00/US 7m

For anyone who has ever been lost in a bureaucratic switchboard, here's a quite funny short film about an Aids patient trying to get through to the helpline, and failing miserably. Lots of good laughs, but the overall tone is a bit repetitive and preachy--taking a rather mean-spirited jab at presumably non-ill people unconcerned about the people they say they care about. There is a good point to make here, but it's just a bit heavy-handed. 8.Apr.01

COMPULSION
dir-scr Ping Tan; with Scott Wooledge, John Mazzer, Mario Callitzen, Ben Miller; 00/US 5m

A very short, very astute little film with no dialog at all, examining the urge to just be with someone. It follows two members of a couple who have had some sort of fight then go on the prowl to a local cruising area looking for comfort from a stranger. In such a short time, the film captures a key element of human relationships--the fragility, restlessness and struggle against loneliness when things aren't going right. 30.Mar.01

PUTA DE OROS [GOLDEN WHORE]
dir Miguel Crespi; with Cristobal Garrido, Maria Eugenia Sebastian, Sergio Celebrousky, Cristina Cazoria, Bernardo Cortez; 99/Spain 14m

Wacky and colourful short about a young man (Garrido) with delusions of fame and fortune. He'll do anything for pay--mourn at a funeral, cheer at a bad play, liven up a party. Then he starts to wonder if the people who are adoring him are paid to do so. The overall style is so outrageous that the film is great fun to watch, with its vivid designs and unexpected asides (nude aerobics in a city park!). Clever and very twisted. 8.Apr.01

DOORS CUT DOWN
dir-scr Antonio Hens; with Israel Rodriguez, Pablo Puyol, Juan Carlos Rubio, Antonio Alamo, Juanma Lara, Concha Galan; 00/Spain 17m

This rather confrontational short examines sex in public loos, centring on a 16-year-old (Rodriguez) who can't confront his sexuality, but frequents the local shopping mall picking up whoever he finds. Eventually his parents catch him, he gets in trouble with the authorities and finds a steady boyfriend in a seemingly unlikely place. A gentle comedic tone belies the serious issues raised here about society and family acceptance, not to mention dangerous sexual practices. The title refers to what the authorities do to the bathroom stall doors to curtail this seedy activity! 31.Mar.01

BEHIND WALLS
dir-scr Abel Castro; with Maria Soccor, Israel Acevedo, Robert Maisonnet, James Thalman, Edwin Melero; 99/US 20m

Rather amateurish in every way, this black and white short at least has an intriguing premise and a sense of humour. It centres on brother and sister Josie and Alex (Soccor and Maisonnet) and their cousin Papo (Acevedo), bosom buddies since childhood and now sharing a flat as young adults. But now Josie is feeling left out, because Alex and Papo have become a couple and are ignoring her. She goes to some rather extreme measures to get their attention, including drilling a hole in the wall between their bedrooms, and planting evidence that Papo is having an affair. But it never really works--despite a few laughs, the script and direction are very weak, and the acting never convinces on any level. 31.Mar.01

I HATE FAGGY FAG FAG
dir Jeffrey Maccubbin; with Richardson Jones, Shawn Quinlan, Brett Coy, Kirsten Stottmann; 00/US 10m

Sharp and vicious little film focussing on the shallow self-centredness of some gay men--it holds no punches as, while they get ready to go out on the town, three guys talk about how they can destroy the self-esteem of other men. The sheer cruelty is hilarious, with a terrific script and performances and a very nasty turn of events as they head out to wreak havoc. 8.Apr.01

MEEK
dir Jeffrey Maccubbin; with Richardson Jones, Jeffrey Maccubbin; 00/US 10m

Exploring the breakup of an unhealthy relationship, this eerie, fragmented short film is a bit frustrating in its refusal to ever come into focus, but it also brings out some very serious truths in just 10 minutes. And it does so more profoundly than most Hollywood films can muster in two hours. 8.Apr.01

SLOTH
dir Frank Mosvold; with Inger Lise Rydpal, Per Christian Ellefsen, Nikolai Moland; 00/Norway 8m

Serious and solemn, this short centres on a mother visiting a priest in search of her missing 16-year-old son, who went to the priest with questions about his sexuality and was told he had to change his sinful ways. The music and imagery is very sober ... and very nicely done. And the script tackles a serious issue with surprising depth for such a short film, asking whether the church is about stressing God's will or giving compassion to people in need. It doesn't take sides, just urges us to struggle with the issue. Nice. Note that this is part of The 7 Deadly Sins, a collection of shorts made by young Norwegian directors. 9.Apr.01

TAKE-OUT
dir Jean-Francois Monette; scr Nancy Hughes; with Gianpaolo Venuta, Daniel MacIvor, Benjamin Plener, Kaya McGregor; 01/Canada 38m

More like a mini-feature than a short, this clever and involving little film is immaculately produced and very well-acted. It follows 18-year-old Rory (Venuta), working as a take-out delivery boy, struggling with his identity. His crisis of sexuality is spurred on by his best friend and coworker Enzo (Plener), a raging heterosexual. But Rory isn't interested in Enzo's supposed sexual exploits. Rather, he's obsessed by one of his customers, a man (MacIvor) splitting up with his (female) partner. Subtle and intriguing, it asks questions and raises issues without ever preaching. And it's so beautifully directed and written that you can't help but get the refreshing message. 31.Mar.01

DEFINED BY SEX
dir Mikka Leskinen, Fiona Minors, Kate Smith, Christopher Wall, Natalie Wood; 00/UK 7m

This very brief documentary has all the hallmarks of a student film ... made by rather unambitious students. It tries to interview people whose lives are defined by their connections with sex in some way--gay men, a mother who's into leather and rubber, a lesbian, a lingerie shop worker, a drag queen. It's trying to say that sex is merely a part of these people's lives, but not the defining aspect. But the filmmakers (how many directors does it take to make a 7-min doc?) are so timid about it all--using stereotypical imagery and refusing to include any real revelatory interview material--that they don't say much at all. 4.Apr.01

KNOCKED OUT
dir Sean De Simone; with Chris Williams, Matthew Montelongo, Jodi Wetzel, Ivor Stillin; 00/US 13m

Rather quirky little film about a guy (Williams) who suffers from amnesia after being hit in the head by a falling pile of porn magazines, then can't remember anything about himself, including the fact that he's gay and has a boyfriend. So when he's on a park bench being chased by both a man and a woman, he takes the female option even though he knows something isn't right. Silly and insubstantial, it stretches its decent concept a bit far but does manage to generate a few laughs. 8.Apr.01

BACK ROOM
dir Guillem Morales; scr Francesc Hernandez; with Juan Jaime, Oriol Serra, Joan Diaz, Ruben Amettle, Nolo Ortiz; 99/Spain 13m

A very clever and disturbing short film about men wandering through a dark maze at the back of a Spanish nightclub. We hear each one's thoughts--their desires and loneliness--and the result is quite clever, funny and ultimately very sad as it highlights the emptiness of the sex when real needs for love, acceptance and companionship are never going to be met in a place like this. 30.Mar.01

LOVE, LTD.
dir Jennifer Thuy Lan Phang; with Michelle Chai Ingkavet, Lynne Bolen, Emil Lin, Cindy Pena, Dennis J Lau; 00/US 24m

Clever comedy about a lesbian (Ingkavet) who wants to come out to her parents at a family dinner ... but everyone else keeps beating her to the punch. As the meal progresses things get increasingly farcical, but there's a serious tone underneath about hot each person copes with secrets and communication barriers in very different ways--not to mention homosexuality! Very nicely written, directed and performed, it's also a rare glimpse of a middle class Asian-American family on the big screen. 8.Apr.01

THE AMBIGUOUSLY GAY DUO
dir JJ Seidelmaier; 00/US 3m

Hilarious short animation making fun of the subliminal homosexuality between Batman and Robin. Here the superheroes are Ace and Gary, and their adventure is jam-packed with innuendo and puns that no one in the story gets at all, but the studio audience (ie, laugh track) does. It's all about an evil plot by the villains Bighead and Braineo to launch their secret weapon during the basketball playoffs. But that's just an excuse for three minutes of non-stop double entendres. Stupid and yet hilarious. 9.Apr.01

WET DREAM
dir-scr Steve Stephens; with Michael Asange, Timothy Ball, Astra Joynt, Roberta Cooley, Tonisha Read; 99/Australia 10m

Surreal short centred on a man (Asange) who dreams about an idyllic place where he goes for a swim, finds himself in danger and then is rescued from the depths by a stranger (Ball). Unusual and strange, but oddly touching and extremely artistic--beautifully shot and designed. 30.Mar.01

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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