Shadows Film FestShadows off the beaten path
Indies, foreign, docs and shorts...


< <
S H O R T S > >

See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 24.Mar.20

BFI Flare: Five Films for Freedom 2020
Reviews by Rich Cline | MORE BFI FLARE SHORTS >
Five Films for Freedom

The British Council and BFI Flare present a selection of shorts each year during the festival, inviting viewers from around the world to watch and share the films in solidarity with LGBTIQ+ communities in countries where freedom and equal rights are limited, under the tagline "Love is a human right". Over the past five years, almost 14 million people have watched these films in more than 200 nations. This year's strong selection includes dramas and docs from four countries...

walker dir Nosa Eke
scr Alexandra Kessie, Nosa Eke
with Demii Lee Walker, Sophie Lovett, Sacharissa Claxton, Francesca Barker Smith, Delainey Hayles, Mona Lisa, Daniel Davids, Harrison Watson, Nathaniel Farah
19/UK 12m

Something in the Closet  

Something in the Closet This dramatic short has a gently intimate tone, as it centres on Madi (Walker), a teen who is secretly in love with a friend (Lovett), which gives her the sense that there's a monster lurking in her closet. Yes, this is because she's hiding her sexuality from everyone, and it's eating her up inside. Her anguish increases as her friends ask which boy she likes, then threaten to humiliate her. Her mother (Claxton) tries to talk to her, but she's terrified to open up. And her sense of fear only grows when she's on her own, seeing beady red eyes peering at her through the closet door slats. The metaphor is a little on-the-nose, but the story's authenticity is powerful, as Walker nicely plays out a range of conflicting emotions that are swirling in Madi's head. The film is skilfully written and shot, produced to a high standard, and it carries a strongly emotional kick.


cornally dir-scr Sarah Jane Drummey
with Bill Cornally, Mary Murray, Eric Lalor, Freddy Cornally, Lewis Kraiem, Jimmy Smith, Anne O'Donnell, James Finnegan
19/Ireland 12m


134 A dry comical attitude brings this important short to vivid life. It centres on Jack (Bill Cornally), a young boy who identifies as female and is determined to take part in an Irish dancing competition wearing in a spangly dress. Her parents (Lalor and Murray) have very different feelings about this, arguing loudly. "He's my son," Ronan screams when Christine refers to Jack as "she". Eventually, it's up to Christine to support her child, while Ronan struggles with his own feelings. And the film has a terrific sense of Jack's life, including cleverly integrated glimpses of her as an even younger child (played by Freddy Cornally and Kraiem). The title refers to Jack's competitor number, adding a subtle sense that he's not alone in the way he feels. Of course, there are plenty of boys competing, but none in dresses, and the way Christine sensitively offers compassion and assistance is remarkably moving. But both parents are on a journey in this clever little film, which is finely written, directed and acted to make its themes resonate deeply.


drummond and carvalho dir Caio Scot
scr Lucas Drummond, Mel Carvalho
with Lucas Drummond, Mel Carvalho, Charles Fricks, Alcemar Vieira
19/Brazil 15m

After That Party  
  Depois Daquela Festa     4.5/5

After That Party From Brazil, this comical short is a clever look at coming out, with a snappy script and likeable performances. Pai (Fricks) thinks it's funny that his son Leo (Drummond) and childhood friend Carol (Carvalho) hang out so much, doing things the other one hates just to be together. Leo counters by noting that his dad oddly hasn't met anyone new since becoming single. Then at a party, Leo and Carol see Pai kissing another man (Vieira). Leo is shocked, but Carol points out that he shouldn't be upset because Pai is probably just afraid to be himself. "Why would he hide something like this," Leo wonders before launching into a Google search to figure out how to talk to his dad about this. His attempts to broach the subject are hilarious, leading into a remarkably honest moment of connection between father and son. Sharply written, directed and acted in a relaxed, almost homemade style, the film is full of witty sequences that play on issues of masculinity and sexuality without falling back on the usual cliches. As a result, it's powerful and genuinely moving.


When Pride Came to Town dir Julia Dahr, Julie Lunde Lillesaeter
with Bjorn-Tore Berge, Ragnhild Berge, Anbjorn Steinholm Frislid, Roald Didriksen, Hanne-Birte Koppen, Ingeborg Matre, Anja Nas, Hans Reite
18/Norway 18m

When Pride Came to Town  
Bygdehomo   4.5/5

When Pride Came to Town Opening with the pronouncement that "Norwegians must repent or be struck by misfortune and famine", this provocative short documentary explores the clash of opinion as Norway prepares for its first small-town Pride march in 2018. It's a finely shot and edited film, maintaining an unusually balanced tone as it allows a range of people to express themselves. After a tough childhood in rural Volda, 52-year-old Bjorne-Tore moved to Oslo to escape homophobia and live openly as himself. He knows that many people go through struggles as they come out, so he decides to return home for this momentous Pride march. Meanwhile, religious leaders like Pastor Hans are leading protests and declaring eternal damnation. While saying they want to protect future generations, these people don't realise that they are merely speaking out of hate and fear. "I'm not the one passing judgement," says one parishioner, "but...." By contrast, other religious leaders are annoyed that Hans is taking lines from the Bible out of context. And Pride organiser Anbjorn speaks about trying to help people feel more accepted after decades of socially sanctioned abuse (the film's Norwegian title means "built gay"). There's a terrific sense of mixed emotions running through the film, honest feelings about where the culture is and where it has to go. The filmmakers quietly ask each interviewee to explain their opinions, bringing out surprising textures and deeper issues. So where this goes is hugely heartwarming. Especially as Bjorn-Tore is overwhelmed by the level of public support, including his flag-waving mum.


Pxssy Palace dir Laura Kirwan-Ashman
with Aidan Lewis, Arun, Bernice, Nadine
19/UK 6m

Pxssy Palace  

Pxssy Palace This warm, personal documentary packs a lot into six minutes as it explores the London-based collective Pxssy Palace, a modern-day variation on the vogueing movement of 1970s New York (see Pose). "It's more than clubbing," say the participants. "It's about a sense of community, taking care of each other." They started the group out of a frustration that going out meant feeling unsafe, so they created their own space in house parties for queer people of colour who respected each other. As these events grew, they formed a team to administrate the group and organise lively club nights, workshops and a range of other events. They also acknowledge that there are still issues that need navigating, as they work to maintain harmony amid a variety of perspectives and opinions. The film is smoothly shot and edited with a nice sense of personality, energy and vividly hued imagery. This is a brief but telling look at an important movement. Pxssy Palace is a place where people can transform, let out their inner diva and let their colours shine. And as one person says, there's no reason why the dance floor can't be educational.


Send Shadows your reviews!

< < S H O R T S > >

© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall