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On this page: Boys on Film 16 - AWAY WITH ME | B. | CHANCE | FOLLOW ME | GOLDEN
PYOTR495 | SIGN: A SILENT FILM | WE COULD BE PARENTS | WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN
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last update 8.Jun.17
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Boys on Film 16 Boys on Film 16: Possession
Another very strong collection of gay-themed shorts from Peccadillo, this bunch has a darker tone than usual. While there are films about discovery and identity, there are also some that tackle very big themes like obsession, sexism, loneliness and the nature of monogamy. Some are happy and cute, while others are intense and disturbing. But all make a pointed comment on relationships that will echo with anyone in the audience.
release UK 12.Jun.17 • 17/UK Peccadillo 2h03               15 themes, language, violence, sexuality • 25.May.17
VOL 15   <   BOYS ON FILM
Golden   4.5/5  
dir-scr Kai Staenicke
with Christian Tesch, Maik Schrank, Jenine Marold, Maximilian Gehrlinger, Jakob Jorke, Karl Kreibich
16/Germany 3m golden

golden There's a clever mix of warm nostalgia and underlying outrage in this artful documentary about the notorious gay cruising ground at Wohler Beach on the Russian River in Northern California. As men reminisce about the heyday of the "gay beach", a place even more amazing than the urban legend it left behind, filmmaker overlays images of the site today with faded hints of vintage porn movies. It's an inventive approach that makes its point: the world was drastically changed by the Aids epidemic of the 1980s and the ensuing backlash against gay culture, which included making it impossible for people to visit this idyllic corner of the world. So while the film seems like a paean to a more free-loving time, it's actually much more than that. And it has a cautionary message for today's audiences about moralistic repression and the need to be more honest with ourselves about our sexuality.
B.   5/5  
dir-scr Kai Staenicke
with Susanne Bormann, Andreas Jaehnert, Luka Dimic, Volkmar Leif Gilbert, Sina Valeska Jung, Judith Wagner
15/Germany 15m
B.
B. A stop-motion drama told with Barbie-like puppets, this dialog-free film opens with a young woman covered in blood remembering how she got to this place. It started as a happy night out with her best friend, followed by the disappointment that she ended up on a date with a boy instead. She carries on numbly developing a relationship with this guy, even getting engaged. But her emptiness is consuming, and she is further disturbed by the casual homophobia all around her. Can she ever find real love? The animation is strikingly involving, beautifully conveying inner thoughts and feelings and a sometimes startling sense of human physicality. What's most intense is the way filmmaker Staenicke captures the sense that life is pushing you in directions you know aren't right for you. Even though it has moments of hope, it's a wrenchingly sad film. And the way the imagery adds an extra commentary on the pressure fashion dolls place on young girls is genius. So is the unexpected conclusion.

Also at: IRIS PRIZE FEST

PYOTR495   3/5  
dir-scr Blake Mawson
with Alex Ozerov, Max Rositsan, Juliana Semenova, Justin Strazzanti, Grisha Pasternak, Alanna Bale
16/Canada 15m
ozerov
PYOTR495 In 2014 Russia, as Putin's popularity rises with crackdowns on both neighbouring Ukraine and his own LGBT citizens, Pyotr (Ozerov) makes a date on a hook-up app to meet Sergei (Rositsan), who promises to be discreet. But Sergei also wants to introduce Pyotr to some light bondage play, which makes him nervous. From here things take an unexpected turn that's more than a little freaky, dragging Pyotr into a lurid fetishistic nightmare. And then it takes another twist that's both unexpected and a little over-the-top. The film is a clever pastiche of pre and post Soviet styles, including a riotous disco-themed flat and a hilariously cheesy TV show running in the background. It's also rather full-on, disturbing and intense in its themes and imagery, an odd mix of quiet yearning and gonzo horror. While his audacity is admirable, filmmaker Mawson opts for grisly chaos instead of meaningful comment on the themes he's playing with. But the ending is cool.

Also at: IRIS PRIZE FEST

When a Man Loves a Woman   3/5  
dir Charlie Francis
scr Katie White
with Tommy Jay Brennan, Jemima Spence, Diane Brooks-Webster, Charlie Francis, Jo Brunwin, Alan McLean
16/UK 10m
spence and brennan
When a Man Loves a Woman Lively and rather goofy, this cheeky Scottish comedy centres on Nick (Brennan), a young guy panicking over a visit from his mother (Brooks-Webster), who doesn't know he's gay. Still in the closet, Nick convinces his lesbian pal Amanda (Spence) pose his girlfriend for the day, even though she's feeling badly hungover after a sexy night out. On the big day, Nick de-gays his flat and asks his boyfriend to stay away. And then when mum turns up, he does his best to play up to pretty much all of the masculine stereotypes. Francis' direction and White's writing are broad and very silly. They have a very obvious point to make about self-acceptance and general human dignity, but the film flutters along as a rather fluffy slapstick romp. Still, it's cute and involving, and a climactic punchline adds a snarky laugh at the end.

Also at: IRIS PRIZE FEST

Follow Me   4/5   Volg Mij
dir-scr Anthony Schatteman
with Ezra Fieremans, Maarten Ketels, Lien Maes
16/Belgium 16m
fieremans
Follow Me Moody and evocative, with beautifully introspective widescreen camerawork and clever visual touches, this short follows 18-year-old art student Jasper (Fieremans), who has a debilitating crush on his teacher Gerard (Ketels), even though he has a new girlfriend (Maes). So he quietly stalks them, trying to imagine what he can do about this situation. As Jasper follows the couple around a museum, catching each of their offhanded intimate moments, the imagery is sexy and involving, blurring the line between reality and fantasy. The narrative builds to a confrontation, with scenes that play out in quietly moving ways, avoiding cliches to draw us in further. This approach cleverly reveals character details and hints at the much bigger story of each man's life. The actors are excellent, underplaying their scenes while fully embodying the characters and revealing their thoughts and feelings. So while the film is rather enigmatic, it's also provocative and beautiful.
Chance   4/5  
dir-scr Jake Graf
with Clifford Hume, Abs, Amale Mohamed, Olivia James, Jake Graf, Lewis Hancox
15/UK 17m
abs and hume
Chance A lovely story of a chance encounter that changes a number of lives, this film is made with a sumptuously emotional tone. When we meet Trevor (Hume), he's feeling overwhelmed, desperately missing his late wife. He dodges calls from his daughter (James), and forces himself to go out shopping. His only solace is sitting on the park bench he dedicated to her. Then one day when local goons threaten him, he meets Amir (Abs), another fragile soul struggling in his home-life with Zara (Mohamed) and their young son. An uneasy friendship blossoms between these men, as Trevor discovers deeper truths about Amir's dark past. Both actors are excellent, bringing out underlying thoughts and emotions even when the characters aren't saying very much to each other. And even with some slightly heavy-handed plotting, the film's gentle rhythms pull us in, combining moments that are sweet and painful. So a gentle surprise revelation and a tidy conclusion feel almost sublime.

Also at: IRIS PRIZE FEST

Sign: A Silent Film   4.5/5"  
dir Andrew Keenan-Bolger
scr Adam Wachter
with John McGinty, Preston Sadleir, Maleni Chaitoo, Sydney Morton, Joshua Castille, Garrett Zuercher
16/US 15m
sadleir and mcginty
Sign In New York, lonely young men Ben and Aaron (Sadleir and McGinty) repeatedly spot each other on their morning-commute Subway platform. And finally Ben works up the courage to speak to Aaron, learning that he's deaf. Struggling across the communication gap, a friendship blossoms, leading to romance, meeting the parents and moving in together. So where do they go from here? The film has a jaunty tone, with only screenwriter Wachter's cheerful score on the soundtrack. While it depicts this relationship in witty and endearing ways, there are some seriously clever moments, such as Ben's reaction to his first party with Aaron's deaf friends. Or Aaron's boredom when Ben gets into a conversation to someone else. Plus the challenge of arguing with each other. It's a knowing exploration of how a couple like this establishes common ground. So even if the narrative isn't terribly original, the angle on the story is. Director Keenan-Bolger shoots and edits the film with real skill, and it's beautifully played by both actors.

Also at: IRIS PRIZE FEST

Away With Me   4/5  
dir-scr Oliver Mason
with Lee Knight, Chris Polick
15/UK 11m
Away With Me
Away With Me Very nicely shot in an offhanded fly-on-the-wall style, this little drama is sexy and sweaty. It opens with a bit of pillow talk, as Alex (Polick) invites Paolo (Knight) to go away to Nice with him. Next thing they know, they're escaping from the bustle of London, heading off together to relax in the sun and swim in the sea. There's plenty of chemistry between Polick and Knight, who skilfully depict two men who are at ease with each other even though they don't really know each other. And then writer-director Mason raises the hint of jealousy and a suggestion that there's something else going on under the surface. Indeed, the film turns into a pointed exploration of conflicting motivations, cleverly depicted in a connection that isn't yet a relationship. So even though the film is oddly enigmatic and not hugely involving, it's at least strikingly assembled. It's also set in a gorgeous location with vivid performances that are darkly intriguing.
We Could Be Parents   3.5/5   Vi Skulle Bli Bra Föräldrar
dir-scr Bjorn Elgerd
with Bjorn Elgerd, Par Brundin
16/Sweden 15m
elgerd

We Could Be Parents Erik (Elgerd) is reeling because his boyfriend Marley left him, so he decides to make a video message for him. He shares mutual jokes, his inner feelings and memories of key moments in their relationship. All of this is shot in a single take as Erik speaks to the camera in a barren industrial wasteland that means something to him. There's one interruption when Erik joins a man (Brundin) in his car, providing sex for cash, which turns out to be what drove Marley away. But Erik needs to explain his reason: to earn money so they could have a child. Using a relatively simple approach, actor-filmmaker Elgerd makes a strong point about one of the specific frustrations of same-sex couples, and also the larger theme that every breakup has two sides. It's a rare film that discusses these issues with honesty and complexity. And instead of taking a provocative approach, the film remains deeply personal, thoughtful and moving as it explores who's really the wronged person in this situation.

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