›› The Aussie Boys short films compilation ‹‹

From the good folk at New Queer Visions comes this compilation of gay short films about the lives and loves of those boys from Down Under;
men who seemingly couldn't give a 4X, or perhaps not, for anything other than being in the arms of their boyfriend. What's not to like?

›› Overall Duration - 110 mins | VOD Release Date - 2nd September, 2022 ‹‹

›› posted: Wednesday, 23rd November, 2022 ‹‹

›› Burning Soul: The Raising of the Flag ‹‹

a short film by Cédric Desenfants.

2016 | 14 mins | Australia.

a lush, if bittersweet tale of same-sex love.

Dave says:

From multi-faceted writer, director and costume designer Cédric Desenfants comes this historical drama on gay love on the seas; or rather on dry land.

For Dutch East India Company employees and best friends Pieter Engels (Teo Falck) and Hendrick Armanse (Rasmus Hansen) alongside a handful of others, find themselves shipwrecked off the rugged West Australian coast: dateline June 1727. Only that's the least of Pieter's troubles. For while the few surviving members of the crew attempt a rescue of sorts, Pieter instead finds love in the arms of fellow shipmate Adriaen Spoor (Rasmus Callmer), only for their moments of sexual bonding to be discovered. Outing them to a captain who refused to go down with his ship, there can only be one punishment for having committed "the abominable and godforsaken deed of Sodom and Gomorrah." Devoid of a boat for them to walk the plank however, the two must face their fate on land; until death do they part.

Inspired by true events, this accomplished Sydney Film School production is as dramatic, as it's at times almost laconic in delivery. For here telling looks and toe-touching feet wonderfully convey the deep love that both men clearly hold for each other. The result is a work that and without a "shiver me timbers" to be heard, leaves the Callmer / Falck boys to achingly express the emotions of their characters' forbidden love and the stark consequences for such.

Beautifully shot and scored throughout and with a narrative that cuts back and forth between differing time frames as often as waves crash against the shore, Desenfants has crafted a lush, if bittersweet tale of same-sex love, given the outright prejudice to these star-crossed lovers affection, is still an all too homophobic reality, in sadly all too many countries of the world of today. And here the words 'FIFA' and 'Qatar' come to mind...

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

›› Miles ‹‹

a short film by Christopher Sampson.

2017 | 15 mins | Australia.

the deeply poignant story of love, loss and friendship.

Dave says:

Road movies can take many variant forms and in this instance, writer and director Christopher Sampson opts to deliver the deeply poignant story of love, loss and friendship.

It tells the story of Michael (Jye Whatson); Mike to his friends and a young man who following the death of his father embarks on a road trip to come to terms with his grief and if anything, his regret of never saying the words "I love you" to the man he clearly held much regard for. Accompanied for support by his girlfriend Ash (Madi Jennings) and best friend Ed (Nathan Draman) who clearly holds a torch for the man himself, one that's not exactly unreciprocated, as the three set out on the road together, the question beckons: will all three remain friends come journey's end?

Complete with some breathtaking vistas of the Australian coastline, this emotional work is as gently played, as it's touching. Then again, perhaps that's of no surprise, given the theme of a young man coming to terms with the death of his father is a narrative card that Sampson has played before, as in his earlier short Drift. That however does not detract from the merits of this love triangle fashioned short, one that finds Draman and Jennings excel in their achingly real turns as Mike's compassionate "shoulder to cry on" friends, only for the main man, nicely played by Whatson, seemingly unable to choose between his girlfriend and potential boyfriend. All of which leaves the two lifelong friends to knowingly compete for the same object of their affection, with Mike seemingly always pulling away from facing the homosexual calling of his heart, every time Ed reaches out to him.

And whilst this is the heartfelt story of coming to terms not only with a death in the family, but equally of your sexuality, above all however this is a work about telling those you love how you feel about them, before it's too late to do so. And in its laid-back style, it's quite moving.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› Infidels ‹‹

a short film by Luke Marsden.

2017 | 7 mins | Australia.

the reality of when two's company and three's a crowd.

Dave says:

Sexually to the core without being explicit, this laconic work from writer and director Luke Marsden charts the reality of when two's company and three's a crowd.

For this is the story of Sam (Joel Horwood), Matt (Duncan Ragg) and Ben (Joshua Morton); three men who find themselves in an apartment together. Two are having sex, only for the third man to walk in on the act itself, leaving many an unanswered question left blowing in the wind.

For that's the problem with this short film, given here Marsden opts to tell his tale without a single word being spoken, leaving telling looks and facial expressions to fill-in the narrative void. And whilst there's no doubt that it's strikingly shot, bathed in rich tones of Gothic styled candlelight throughout, nonetheless you're left yearning for the silence to be broken with a line that reflects the reality of the situation. And that's a shame, given with the appropriate word here and there, this work could have pushed the cinematic envelope.

As it stands however it is what it is; a silent short that if truth be told, is somewhat of a waste of the toned physique of Joshua Morton as man of the night Ben. Say no more.

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

›› Eric ‹‹

a short film by Andrew Lee.

2014 | 15 mins | Australia.

a telling work on post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dave says:

There's something homoerotic and yet ultimately quite sad in this emotive work from co-writer and director Andrew Lee.

It tells the story of two men staying at a rundown motel somewhere in Australia, namely Eric (Daniel Webber of Teenage Kicks fame); a young man who finds himself abandoned for the night by his so-called friends, and former military man John (Kallan Richards) who's all but haunted by the ghostly image of a woman whose relevance to the story is not exactly clear; at least, at first. Knocking on the door of the lad for a cigarette, the two end up back in the soldier's room where after some drinks and dialogue, the image of the woman comes into focus.

In short, this is a work that deals with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that all too many soldiers returning from the front line of war are left to deal with, often on their own. That John is struggling with the memories of his service in Afghanistan, is all but obvious; just as it's apparent that Eric is also struggling in life, perhaps even, given it's not stated directly, of trying to come to terms with his sexuality.

Strikingly shot in monochrome and with a score that contrasts the nightclub beat with a moving cello and piano instrumental by Kayvan Shokolat, frankly, this is one of those short films that I would have liked to have seen more of, as here Lee maintains a nice dynamic between the two men throughout their all too brief encounter, strangers in the night that finds Eric fascinated by John's military stories, only to realize that there's more to his war time experiences than what he's saying; skipping over the parts that he would prefer not to talk about, whilst desperately in need of someone to talk to.

Well-played throughout by the Richards / Webber pairing, the result makes for a telling work on those who in having served their country, are seemingly all too quickly forgotten about when it comes to the state of their mental health and well-being. And yes, more needs to be said on this issue.

Gay Visibility - covert | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› What Grown-Ups Know ‹‹

a short film by Jonathan Wald.

2004 | 30 mins | Australia.

a roller coaster ride of an atypical mother and son relationship.

Dave says:

Showing my age, I first saw this short film at the 19th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival of 2005 and my thoughts on it are the same now, as back then, given this is but a roller coaster ride of an atypical mother and son relationship.

It tells the story of the close, if at times strained bond between devoted, if clearly ill mother Elizabeth (Susie Lindeman) and her troubled teenage son Roy (Stephen James King); namely a young man on the verge of adulthood who and much to his annoyance, she keeps referring to by his childhood pet name 'Toodles.' Finding themselves on the road together without their father in sight but with his car, the two make it a habit of escaping motels in the middle of the night, so as to avoid a bill they cannot pay. Only when mother and son switch motel hopping for an all but deserted caravan park, the manager turns out to be Roy's unconsummated rest room encounter with a local named Maurice (Daniel Roberts). Yet that was then and now with Mother Dear out all day supposedly working, Roy seizes the opportunity to continue where he left off in the hope of finally embracing his sexuality, ever leading Maurice on in his desire for sex, only to discover that he's not the only one willing to get up close and personal with the man; albeit for a different reason.

Inspired by the short story of the same name by Alex Joseph and brought to the screen by writer and director Jonathan Wald, this is a work that and as much as it revolves around Roy's longing for man-sex, at its core however is the sombre reality of what grown-ups know, in the form of having to face up to the responsibilities of life. To that end, Roberts is splendid in the role of the man who and with his own tale of woe, literally forces Roy, wonderfully played by James King, to acknowledge the fact whether he wants to or not, that his mother is not only unable to pay the rent, but has not long left on the road of life.

All of which makes for a poignant coming-of-age work that packs a lot of melodramatic emotions into its time frame, in particular in the closing act when the truth hits home, with Lindeman here giving a deeply moving turn of the at times almost childlike mother desperately clinging to life, ever doing her best for her son, in spite of her body failing her. Achingly sad, but beautifully played, goes without saying.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› All Good Things ‹‹

a short film by Simon Croker.

2019 | 13 mins | Australia.

the parting of the waves for first time lovers.

Dave says:

From writer and director Simon Croker comes this touching tale of the parting of the waves for first time lovers.

It tells the story of Isaac (Joe Klocek); a young man who finds himself driving his soon to be ex Levi (Jayden Byrne) from Sydney to Melbourne, so that Levi can start a new life in the state of Victoria; albeit without his best friend and lover. Only whilst Levi is forever playing his guitar, Isaac is preoccupied with filming him, knowing that the frames captured will be the last of the two, together. Yet it's a road trip of mixed emotions, with Levi looking forward to the new life that lies ahead of him, only for Isaac to realize that he isn't prepared for his first romance to end, as all good things in life sadly do, as much as we may wish otherwise.

Central to the success of any film is the chemistry between its leading actors and here the Byrne / Klocek pairing shine in their opposing roles, even if Byrne is somewhat reduced to a supporting role, given here Klocek displays the very tears of a man who knows he cannot change the fact that the two will soon be going their separate ways and yet deeply wishing it not to be so, emotions that on face value appear to be the polar opposite of his partner, who is seemingly all but indifferent to the fact.

The result is a work in which the interplay between the boys has a lush natural feel to it, as the two young men navigate not only through the picture postcard landscape of their journey, but of their own feelings for each other. Yet it's a tale that finds Croker surprisingly up the gay to the core stakes of his story, by way of a close-of-play that has both men display their heartfelt love for each other in a bar in small town Australia; an act of outright pride that can only make you question in what direction the narrative is heading? And here, I'm not saying; other than to add that the whole production is beautifully performed.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› The Dam ‹‹

a short film by Brendon McDonall.

2016 | 16 mins | Australia.

the endearing story of love, regret and missed opportunities.

Dave says:

Is the gay world ageist? Now there's a loaded question, if ever there was one. Certainly in terms of gay cinema, the fact is that sadly all too few films showcase stories about elderly gay men. All of which makes this compelling short film from writer and director Brendon McDonall a highly refreshingly change in narrative direction.

It begins with Jack (Chris Haywood) turning up after a ten year gap on the doorstep of his on / off partner John (Martin Vaughan), having flown all the way from Cape Town to see him, when word reached him of John's failing health. Almost giving the love of his life a heart attack by doing so, the two however are soon to reminisce about times past, eventually venturing out to the nearby monolithic dam that was once home to their forbidden love, only for unspoken truths to rise to the surface over a life that could have been so much more rewarding for both of them.

In short, this is the endearing story of love, regret and missed opportunities, given it's all but apparent that the two men hold deep feelings for each other, only for Jack to be ill-at-ease with expressing them, drifting in and out of John's life more often as a close friend, than as a lover. It's a tale that's intercut with brief flashbacks of the two men as their younger selves; aka Felix Haywood as young Jack and Blake Bowden as young John, here seen swimming in the reservoir together, enjoying rare moments of sexual freedom in a telling work that all too poignantly reflects the legal and indeed social attitudes of years not that long ago, when those of gay inclination lived in a world of shame, fear and denial.

Frankly, this is another of those short films that I would have liked to have seen more of and in particular of the underdeveloped early years of the two lovers, given the backstory is somewhat of a wordless void. What we do see however is beautifully played, even if it cannot help but make you question just how many lives were ruined by the sexual prejudice of yesteryear and moreover are still being emotionally scarred in countries were being gay to this day - is strictly taboo. And yes, the answer to that is alarmingly all too many.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

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