Film Review: Boys On Film 22 – Love To Love You

The latest edition of Peccadillo’s ever fresh gay short film collection Boys On Film arrives this week. The twenty-second edition dubbed Love To Love You presents a series of unique shorts delving into the queer experience from a diverse global array of rising and established filmmakers.

Have We Met Before
Dir. Oliver Mason

Opening short Have We Met Before provides a kitsch glimpse into the transformative journey that the gay experience has taken from the seventies onwards. Almost Gay Studies 101, filmmaker Oliver Mason delves into the world of cottaging, cruising and the hanky code paired with often tongue-in-cheek voiceovers capturing the subversive routes that gay people have had to navigate through the years. Gradually moving on to the progression the internet brought for the gay experience with chat rooms, websites and dating/hook-up apps, Mason presents a no holds barred and refreshingly honest look at way gay men meet in society.

The Act
Dir. Thomas Hescott

Thomas Hescott’s short takes us to 1965 as the decriminalisation of homosexuality approaches, we meet Matthews as he attempts to navigate his sexuality in 1960s London. Leading a somewhat lonely life, Matthews struggles to build relationships until gradually falling for wrong-un Jimmy who struggles to reciprocate the affection Matthews is longing for. With narration of MP’s speeches detailing the legality regarding homosexuality, The Act captures the injustice faced by those in queer relationships in sixties Britain. The challenges and discretion required are explored in this emotive short driven by a stellar central performance from Samuel Barnett. In its well-utilised 18 minutes, The Act delves into class divide, underground queer clubs and the role of the police in suppressing the LGBT movement.

First Position
Dir. Michael Elias Thomas

Transporting us to 1980s San Francisco in the early stages of the AIDS crisis, First Position explores dancer Zachary’s desire to keep his passion alive amidst his illness. First Position beautifully captures the parallels between dance and romantic touch utilising the artistic movement to channel many of the short’s weighty emotional themes. From the levity of Zachary’s new romance with Jamie to his crippling illness, dance is used as a means of conveying this. Capturing the stages of denial and emotional derailment caused by the illness, First Position can be a challenging watch in its provocative subject matter and raw performance from Anthony Sorrells as Zachary. Stylistically Thomas immerses us in the period setting with a grainy visual filter and a mix of styles – from muted black and white to bolder use of colour, paralleling the emotional tapestry of First Position.

Winter
Dir. Luis Pacheco, Rafael Ruiz Espejo

Mexican short Winter explores the sometimes surprising bond between fathers and sons in a quietly touching manner. Drag performer Nico attempts to mask his job from his father who comes to stay – more due to his own discomfort than his father’s. Nico’s father quietly busies himself around his flat attempting to spend time with his distant son, perhaps an attempt to mend their quiet, understated disconnect. Winter occupies itself with trying to gradually rebuild this relationship between father and son – as the pair attempt to reconnect and gain a deeper understanding of one another.

The Suit Weareth the Man

The Suit Weareth the Man
Dir. Mitchell Marion

Mitchell Marion’s The Suit Weareth the Man centres on themes of repressed homosexual desires and corporate ambition as it veers down a path of thrilling surrealism, lust and horror. Young corporate suit Maciek’s promotion at work triggers a paranoia that he is been followed, leading to lustful visions and disturbing developments leading him to grapple with his sanity. Capturing a sense of sexual tension in the business world, Marion blurs the worlds of business and horror playing with elements of conspiracy horror and lust in doing so. Highly stylised and thematically rich, Marion crafts a startlingly disturbing yet erotic short packed with ambiguous narrative developments and a bristling sense of tension as Maciek attempts to cling on to his identity and sanity.

Infinite While It Lasts
Dir. Akira Kamiki

Brazilian short Infinite While It Lasts captures the meeting of Danny and Seiji at a party – a romance that those around believe is doomed to fail. Akira Kamiki crafts an intriguing, absorbing glimpse into whether it is possible to overcome fundamental differences through love – or will these always prove a prevailing destructive force? Michel Pereira and Julio Aracack’s vibrant performances draw us into this fragile romance laced with doubt and insecurity in what shines as an understated, refreshing look at love. Paulo Fischer’s cinematography heightens the appeal with a charming depiction of urban Brazil.

Melon Grab
Dir. Andrew Lee

Thematically sparse short Melon Grab serves as the penultimate chapter of BOF22. Centred around two teenage friends navigating the news that one is leaving their hometown, they cope by skateboarding and embracing one another’s company. There is a sense of lingering ennui that prevails in Melon Grab as our protagonists skate around near empty urban locations, quietly growing in closeness. At ten minutes, this Australian short seems to utilise all its potential and does not overstay its welcome.

Thrive
Dir. Jamie Dispirito

Closing piece Thrive centres on Joe and Alex meeting through a hook-up app for what looks set to be a brief encounter yet Jamie Dispirito’s short shows us they may have more similarities than initially thought. Opening with Joe (an impressive Taofique Folarin) loitering around his apartment, he soon meets the handsome Alex for a steamy intimate encounter which Dispirito captures with a frank openness. A similar openness is gradually drip-fed as both men get to know one another and Thrive examines the prejudice and judgement faced by those living healthily with HIV. Dispirito’s depiction of men faced with repressing this condition and the subsequent repercussions on mental health are impressively crafted, particularly as they build to a cathartic finale.

Boys On Film 22: Love to Love You is now available from Peccadillo Pictures.

Thrive

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