Here are four shorts that all have the promise to drive home important points about the world of LGBTQ, but the best of those are made when filmmakers heed the golden rule of the cinema: Whenever possible, show it, don’t tell it.
Sophy Holland, Alicya Eyo
2013, 29 mins.
Desperately seeking normal
Holland and Eyo have done a commendable job bringing writer Jake Graf’s (who also stars as Adam) tale of “How do I fit in?” with the not-as-often-seen point of view of transvestites. Rocky (a most courageous portrayal by Harry Rundle) long ago orphaned now in a new body comes down to London from up north in search of love and acceptance. The love is soon kindled with Adam who has just come to terms with his own predilections and is anxious to get physical ASAP. But first, the slim vision of a man wants to share a most personal secret before consummating the sudden relationship only to be summarily silenced by his intended. Not surprisingly, Rocky won’t be the only one with a stunning surprise to reveal.
Intercut with their growing romance are a fag hag most loyal (Georgina Winters as the irrepressible Zoe) and Ryan—Adam’s best bud being a devoted animal lover who enjoys his full-sized cocktails with a buffet of fruits hanging out shamelessly around the libation’s glass—Dannie Pye has a grand time as the comic relief.
Sadly, but still not unheard of, a severe bashing serves as the drama’s catalyst if somewhat clumsily set up compared to the far more plausible scenario in Bashment (cross-reference below).
By journey’s end the production’s tone of a cautionary tale trumps its potential to deliver an emotional knockout punch of the cinematic, rather than lonely back alley, variety. JWR
Chaleur Humaine (Human Warmth)
2013, 11 mins.
How Do I Love Thee?
Ah! Two beautiful men (Thomas Coumans, Adrien Desbons), an intimate love letter, balletic movements flowing above the accompaniment of low strings in a Farwell Symphony for the ages.
Telling up-angles in the forest where the naked pair touch, lick, caress, enter and hurt one another—Bruno beaten into the fetal position…“without an ounce of fear” reaching a marvellous landscape framing which silently reinforces the notion of stability, however temporary. Film edits in and out of memory add much to the seamless adieu as the warmth and the fervor of “chaleur” are simultaneously and lovingly examined. Merci mille fois. JWR
Ljósið (The Light)
2013, 10 mins.
Dance of the light fantastic
Shaffer’s performance art brings together a pair of intense, expressive and deceptively easily gliding dancers (Barton Cowperthwaite’s Eyes Wide Shut awakening is magical; Brandon Coleman’s moody characterization, synchronized breathing and physical intertwinings with his—hopefully, at times desperately—partner-in-flight is a constant pleasure), and the musical expertise and aural colourizations (the innocence of children’s voices is especially effective) from Sigur Rós. Daydna Stephansen’s creation of the movement (so much more apt in this instance than “just” choreography) shows deft understanding of the dancers’ strengths and subtext of the music.
Shaffer’s decision to employ robin egg blue to bind the narrative of new love (which in its many incarnations can be as fragile as the eggs) is a subtle masterstroke. The notion of taking flight—as a super hero, abandoned purveyor of death or means to beginning life anew in a far-off place—gives this production enough wings to keep it high on viewers’ emotional planes far after these eagles land. JWR
2013, 15 mins.
Two illustrated men
Becoming a criminal in order to afford to take an apparent boyfriend on a holiday pushes the credibility envelope from the git go. Using a pop song—“Stay if You Want to”—to oh so conveniently reinforce the predilection for Jacks’ (Julian Brand) frequent departures from his lover wanabe, Ash (Brandon Harris gives the camera something to celebrate), further anchors this Florida Keys caper in the harbour of too on the nose. Following that up with literal body language pretty much wanders down the same path of blatant (“I’m sorry,” indeed) predictability.
Curiously, the one sudden surprise, rather than giving testament to “How far would you go for me,” provides a cold hard shock that, finally, removes the notion of any further interest, causing many viewers to stay no longer as well. JWR