›› The Male Gaze: Fleeting Glances short films compilation ‹‹

From the good folk at New Queer Visions comes this stunning collection of seven gay short films from around the world that focus on pivotal moments in life,
in which a fleeting glance could change your future forever, that is should you seize the opportunity to embrace destiny itself.

›› Overall Duration - 100 mins | VOD Release Date - 3rd June, 2022 ‹‹

›› posted: Friday, 30th September, 2022 ‹‹

›› The First Time - La Prima Volta ‹‹

a short film by Lorenzo Caproni.

2012 | 4 mins | Italy.

fleeting glances between two men that can only lead to one thing.

Dave says:

Over before you know it, this short film from director Lorenzo Caproni of The Place Between Us note tells the story of two strangers, respectively played by Eugenio Franceschini and Giulio Rubinelli, who catch each other's eye in a public park on a hot summer day and before you know it, end up in the nearby toilets for some getting-to-know-you action. Only here, one of them is a seasoned pro at the game, whilst for the other it's - the first time.

Epitomizing the title of this short films compilation, this work wonderfully showcase fleeting glances between two men that can only lead to one thing. Only here Caproni weaves a different tale to what you may expect, along the way leaving the title somewhat ambiguous, given come close-of-play you're not quite sure if for one it's their first time having restroom sex, or whether it's their first time with another man? Played with gay intensity without being graphic, Caproni packs a lot into a short story that's beautifully played throughout. Say no more.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 3 stars

›› Kiss Me ‹‹

a short film by Johnny Doov.

2020 | 7 mins | Israel.

at ease with being gay, but uncomfortable with same-sex affection.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Johnny Doov, this in many ways is one of those short films where it's almost impossible to review, without giving the game away; spoiler alert time folks.

It tells the story of two men, respectively played by Yishai Aminoff and Omri Danino, who meet for a night of passion, only for one aspect of their sexual encounter to be essential for one party, but repellent to the other. And before the "to condom or not to condom" question comes to mind, the title comes into play, thereby revealing a simple act of tenderness that effectively turns rampant desires awry. In short, this is a work that finds Doov questioning human sexuality itself and in particular those men who are totally at ease with being gay, but uncomfortable when it comes to showing signs of same-sex affection. The "yin and yang" of life in many ways and certainly the cinematic opposite of Caproni's intense tale of two men who just cannot keep their hands off each other.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 2+ stars

›› Nidhal ‹‹

a short film by Bassem Ben Brahim.

2022 | 10 mins | Tunisia - Netherlands.

an achingly poignant reminder that gay rights are far from universal.

Dave says:

From director Bassem Ben Brahim of Chromophobia fame, comes this achingly poignant reminder that the gay rights that we seemingly take for granted in the West, are far from universal.

For this is the true story of Nidhal; a young man whose sole crime was to defend the rights of LGBTQ people on a local Tunisian radio station in December 2017. Then again, Tunisia is a country that fails in every aspect of same-sex equality, a fact that's of no surprise given two-thirds of its populace not only hold the opinion that homosexuals should be punished, but agree with the judgement that those engaging in same-sex activity should be sentenced for up to three years imprisonment. Faced with a homophobic backlash after voicing his support for the rights of those here and queer in his homeland, Nidhal with no hope of employment and with a series of death threats arriving at his door, had no other option but to flee for his life, taking refuge in the Netherlands where such was the gravity of his case that and unlike the UK to its shame, he was granted permanent residency promptly in November 2018.

Intercut with the moving testimony from the man himself, together with animation and archive footage, the result is a work that within its relatively short time frame paints a vivid picture of sexual prejudice in a nation in which the sole hope for your homosexual safety, let alone the fundamental right to love the gender of your heart's desire - whatever it be, is to leave the very country that you love so much. And there but for the grace of God, go you and I.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› Sparrow ‹‹

a short film by Welby Ings.

2016 | 15 mins | New Zealand.

a visually stunning work on gay love within the trenches.

Dave says:

Beautifully staged and photographed, this visually stunning work from writer and director Welby Ings showcases the courage to be your true self, in the face of bigoted minds.

Yet and in as much as this short revolves around the life of young Jim (Merrick Rillstone); namely a boy whose dreams of flying like a bird see him subjected to endless ridicule from those around him, much to the concern of his father who wants him to be a real man, just like his war hero grandfather was. And therein lies the interwoven story of the piece, given and on a rare occasion when Jim ventures forth without his pair of handmade mechanical wings on his back, he's set to discover a series of hitherto unopened letters that paint a notably different picture to the family myth of his war veteran grandfather Gordon (Matthew Arbuckle); namely a man who returned home from north Africa in the second world war, only not the fallen soldier as Jim's father would have all believe.

Seamlessly mixing colour with monochrome and archive footage with recreated events, I dare say that the end result may not be to everyone's cinematic taste, given here Ings delights in closing his surreal work with a series of dreamlike sequences that attempt to merge both narratives into one, with the sparrow the ever present interconnecting theme. Yet there's equally no denying that what we see is exquisitely told, with the cinematography strikingly Jarman-esque at times, the vivid imagery achingly juxtaposing the savagery of war with tender scenes of gay love within the trenches and how a boy, beautifully played by Rillstone, found the inner strength to stand-up to the bullies of school life, thanks to the telling words of the grandfather he never knew. Simply wondrous.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› I Am Mackenzie ‹‹

a short film by Artemis Anastasiadou.

2019 | 20 mins | US.

a telling portrait on coming to terms with your burgeoning sexual identity.

Dave says:

The raging hormones of adolescent youth come to the surface again in this poignant coming-of-age short from director Artemis Anastasiadou.

It focuses on the life of teenage tomboy Mackenzie (Shonagh Smith) / Mac to her close friends and in particular to her best friend August (Alan Trong; aka Alan Nguyen). Growing up in rural Texas together, the two spend the days showing the world their skateboarding skills, only for the relationship between them to get complicated when a sequin dress and the back of her father's truck see them take their friendship to the next level. Only is this what Mac really wants?

Well-played throughout, this is a work that thanks to a striking screenplay from Brittany Worthington and Smith's compelling performance wonderfully capture the emotions of being different to those around you. For it's that sense of 'not belonging' that dominates this short film, as Mackenzie is clearly struggling with her gender / sexuality amid all the feelings and angst of adolescence, let alone a dysfunctional family background. All of which makes for a telling portrait on coming to terms with your burgeoning sexual identity. And that's a path that all of us have taken, at some point. Say no more.

Gender Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› The Place Between Us - Il posto fra di noi ‹‹

a short film by Lorenzo Caproni.

2010 | 23 mins | Italy.

a hauntingly beautiful tale of relationship blues.

Dave says:

Hauntingly beautiful is this tale of relationship blues from co-writer and director Lorenzo Caproni of The First Time and Lazarus Come Out fame.

It tells the story of Giorgio (Sandro Giordano) and Matteo (Antonio De Matteo), namely a pair of ill-matched lovers who seemingly have little in common, other than their carnal desire for each other. Inviting his artistic friends over to his cottage in the lush Italian countryside, Giorgio cannot wait to see them again and talk art, cinema, let alone learn of the latest gossip from the city. Only over food, wine and conversation, Matteo comes to realize how their once close relationship is now one of distance, prompting him to question: will it ever be the same again?

For that's the question that dominates this work, as here we find Caproni shine the cinematic spotlight not so much on the bond between two lovers, but more the space, or should that be the place - between them. To that end, both De Matteo and Giordano excel as the loving pair who whilst devoted to each other, equally know that the days of their relationship could well be numbered. It's a touching, if bittersweet story that's well-played throughout, even if it takes the viewfinder of a video camera to make Matteo focus on the reality of their friendship. But then, just how many of us are blind when it comes to matters of the heart?

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› By the End of the Night - Que la nuit s'achève ‹‹

a short film by Denoal Rouaud.

2018 | 20 mins | France.

finding the courage to finally say it - like it is.

Dave says:

From co-writer and director Denoal Rouaud comes this telling short film that's not so much about sex, but more about acknowledging your true sexuality.

For new to the city, avant-garde artist Alex (Jordi Gimeno) is soon to call upon the services of local taxi driver Karim (Sofian Khammes) to get him from A to B, only for the man himself to be tired of working endless night shifts, in which his clientele if not drunk, are frequently to be seen getting-it-on in the back of his car. Only this time around something is different, given there's a clear spark of sexual chemistry between the two men, promoting Alex to invite Karim to his art exhibition later that evening. Only in accepting the invitation, is Karim prepared to face the reality of the situation when the sexual tension between the two ignites into flames of passion?

In short, this is a work in which Rouaud has gone out of his way to contrast the sexual openness of his leading men, with Alex's homosexuality not just part of his being, but moreover encapsulated in his overtly homoerotic paintings. To him, a night of physical intimacy is just sex; only for Karim it's an admission of his repressed sexuality, one that he's clearly having difficulty to come to terms with, that here see him literally coming head-to-head with parts of the city hitherto unknown to him.

Wonderfully played by the Gimeno / Khammes pairing and in particular by Khammes whose telling eye movements achingly convey the emotions of his heart more than words can say; albeit apart from one. And therein lies the beauty of the narrative, in the form of one gender specific word that by its use, finds Karim finally having the courage to say it - like it is. Simply wondrous.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

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