Review: NQV Media’s Gay Short Film Collection ‘The Swedish Boys’

NQV are excelling at bringing various queer tales from around the globe and compiling them into varied national collections. Their latest endeavour is The Swedish Boys which sees seven shorts exploring the gay experience with a distinctly Scandinavian perspective. This is released on March 26th. We’ve given a rundown of each of the shorts below:

Coming Out (dir. Jerry Carlsson)

Charlie Gustafsson stars as Joel, a young teen deciding to come out to his parents. Filmmaker Jerry Carlsson captures the internal worries faced my most closeted young people through Joel’s internalised monologues: Will they resent him? Will they already know? What if he’s not gay? When should he say? Joel decides to come out and to do so before he changes his mind. Gustafsson captures these sentiments and Joel’s panic in a wonderfully expressive manner through emotive facial expressions, whilst Carlsson’s directorial style and sound use explores this further with distorted audio and blurred images.

Poppy (dir. Eric Ernerstedt, Julija Green)

Clocking in at thirty-eight minutes, Poppy is the longest of the shorts in The Swedish Boys and in this runtime it spans the most complex emotional territory. Jacob’s ex-girlfriend Polly comes to stay, something which is met with resistance from his new boyfriend Nicholas with him feeling like a third wheel. Yet Nicholas begins to grow close to Polly, with Jacob’s suspicions being raised by this flirtatious new bond. Ernerstedt and Green (who also star) play with the concept of third-wheeling with both Nicholas and Jacob stuck in the position at various points – the result, a growing bitterness between them in this collision of old and new. Ernerstedt and Green’s direction is quietly observant and naturalistic, as they turn a somewhat unusual set-up into something that feels convincing from the onset – aided by their performances, alongside that of Viktor Åkerblom.

FILIP (dir. Nathalie Álvarez Mesén)

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s short explores the relationship between a younger and older brother – told through the perspective of the younger sibling. Young Filip plays football with Sebastian, watches movies with him, and irritates him as little brothers do, yet when he observes Sebastian and Sebastian’s best friend in an intimate moment, he is left confused and uncertain. Mesén’s direction is natural and warm making the most of the quaint Swedish locales. She captures the absorbent way in which younger siblings look to their older brothers and sisters – as does a strong internalised performance from young Josef Waldfogel.

No Brakes (När bromsvajern släpper) (dir. Alexandra Litén)

No Brakes from Alexandra Litén was a short from back in 2008 filmed on a new defunct video camera before the director attended film school – it therefore lacks the polish of some of the other shorts, yet that does add to its handcrafted, nostalgic character. With sparing use of dialogue and naturalistic style, No Brakes is a pensive short that centres on Johan attempting to grasp his feelings for his sister’s best friend.

The Memory of You (Minnet av dig) (dir. Nils Emil T. Jonsson​)

Nils Janlert writes this short that sees Adam heading to dinner with his wife, yet meeting a figure from his past. This figure brings flooding long dormant feelings about the promise of what could have been and a love that never was. The action moves into a Stockholm side-street where Adam attempts to verbalise these feelings with a dramatic lead performance Emil T. Jonsson (who also directs).

Distances (Bortom) (dir. Valentina Chamorro)

Valentina Chamorro writes and directs Distances which centres on a complicated mother-and-son relationship. Eva returns to Stockholm after previously living in the country of her birth. She reunites with her deaf son David who has built a successful life filled with friends and a partner in the city. Communication has been a struggle as Eva’s sign language is rusty – yet the pair manage to enjoy some heartfelt moments highlighting the bond of mother and son. Whilst there is initial frostiness from David, Chamorro’s short is endearing and warm as we see Eva glowing at the impressive person her son has become.

Stockholm Daybreak (Gryning) (dir. Elin Övergaard)

As Dawn breaks friends Axel and Love are on their way home from a night of partying when they begin to see each other in a romantic new light. Tom Ljungman’s Axel is more confident and extroverted, intrigued as to why Love turned down a girl’s advances at the party; whilst Love (David Arnesen) is more quiet and has clearly internalised his feelings for Axel for some time. There is a woozy romance and sense of shimmering new potential in seeing the two boys open up in the gorgeous Stockholm setting in this impressive light short from Elin Övergaard.