Celebrating the 20th volume of their critically acclaimed BOYS ON FILM series of gay short films, the good folk at Peccadillo Pictures
proudly present a wondrous collection of eleven sexually diverse short films, from around the world.

›› Overall Duration - 136 mins | DVD Release Date - 18th May, 2020 ‹‹

›› posted: Friday, 18th February, 2022 ‹‹

›› Chromophobia ‹‹

a short film by Bassem Ben Brahim.

2019 | 6 mins | Tunisia.

a deeply poignant exploration on being gay in a homophobic society.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Bassem Ben Brahim and set to the music of Beethoven to dramatic effect, this colourful, hand-drawn animation achingly charts the life of a gay man in Tunisia; from his birth, through his childhood, to that all important stage of sexual self-discovery, leading to his first love and the dire consequences when the true nature of his sexuality is discovered in a country that to be openly gay, is literally to play Russian roulette with your life.

For like so many countries of that continent, Tunisia refuses to legally acknowledge same-sex marriage or even civil partnerships. Then again, should this be of any surprise given this is a country in which gay sex is not only illegal, but punishable in law by imprisonment. That this moving short does not shy away from depicting the reality of such, is to Brahim's credit, given reports of family rejection, bloody beatings and suicide are alarmingly all too common.

Yet this is also a work that uses symbolism to strikingly juxtapose sexual prejudice with unconditional love. All of which makes for a deeply poignant exploration on being gay in a homophobic society and how the gay rights and sexual freedoms that we take for granted in the West, are but a dream for those of rainbow orientation living in other parts of the world. There by the grace of God, go I - indeed.

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

›› Sleepover - Sova Över ‹‹

a short film by Jimi Vall Peterson.

2018 | 9 mins | Sweden.

falling in love with your best friend.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Jimi Vall Peterson, this sweet, if somewhat underdeveloped tale of friendship, charts the lives of Emil (Hjalmar Hardestam) and Adam (Simon Eriksson); who after a night out at the local cinema, finds Emil opting to stay over at Adam's place. Sharing the same bed together, there's a sexual tension in the air, as Emil clearly yearns for their close friendship to be something far more akin to a Beautiful Thing. Only is his love for Adam destined to be unrequited?

For that's the problem with this work, for whilst Jonathan Harvey knew how to play the sleepover scene beautifully, here you're left with the feeling of many a missed opportunity to up the sexual stakes, even if it's all but obvious that Emil is on the hunt in Adam's bedroom for anything that would show a gay side to his friends' nature. Only here the narrative fails to push the cinematic envelope, with talk of penguins serving to make the chemistry between the two as sensuous, as watching paint dry. And that's a shame, for Eriksson and Hardestam are wonderfully natural in their roles.

That these two young men are on the cusp of adulthood and therein discovering their sexual identities, that is if they haven't already done so, goes without saying. Sadly however the result is a work that literally tiptoes around the emotions of falling in love with your best friend by way of a series of unspoken feelings, leaving Emil not so much tongue-tied, but more tied by a narrative that could have been so much more dynamic. Enough said.

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

›› Just Me ‹‹

a short film by Mickey Jones.

2018 | 11 mins | UK.

a bittersweet tale of long suppressed feelings of same-sex attraction.

Dave says:

Long suppressed feelings of same-sex attraction come to a head in this well-played, if bittersweet short film from director Mickey Jones.

For whilst many a face is to be seen here, this is essentially a two-man play telling the story of Scott (Philip Olivier); namely a man more than happy to put his gay side behind him, given he's about to get married to his live-in fiancée in a few weeks time. Only some things in life can never remain in the past, as Scott is set to discover when a house-to-house police investigation finds his ex-lover Connor (Carl Loughlin) literally knocking at his door. Yet it's a door that's slammed in his face, only to later find Scott all but consumed by his reignited feelings for Connor, sneaking off to a local gay club instead of spending time at his stag do and another chance encounter with Connor who yearns for him to finally embrace his homosexual self. Only has Scott been pushed too far?

In short, this is a work that finds a man at the sexual crossroads of his life, having to decide between accepting his true sexuality, or to forever remain in the closet of social conformity. As expected, Olivier who has played gay on numerous occasions in the past and here cue the Channel 4 soap opera spin-off Hollyoaks: In the City is wonderfully natural in the role. Yet it's the vibrant interplay between their opposing characters that frankly makes this work - work, with Loughlin of Tellin' Dad fame achingly real as Scott's former out 'n' proud boyfriend, ecstatic on having chanced upon the man he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

Yet in life and certainly in the hands of writers Thomas Sean Hughes and James Mallen, true happiness can at times remain elusive, given and come close-of-play, you cannot help but find yourself questioning if Scott will ever be true to who he is and moreover, accountable for his actions? That said, there's still a lot to like here, with Jones having packed many an emotion into such a limited duration, including a devastating twist in the tale styled ending. Say no more.

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

›› Mine ‹‹

a short film by Matthew Jacobs Morgan.

2017 | 6 mins | UK.

the undesired consequences of raising a child.

Dave says:

This moving drama from writer and director Matthew Jacobs Morgan is but a poignant exploration of the breakdown of a relationship, when a third party enters the equation.

Only in this case that third party is a baby; namely the one that long-term partners Ben (John Macmillan) and Liam (Joshua McGuire) care for with all the love of parental devotion. Yet with Ben the biological father of the child, Liam is increasingly finding himself the third wheel in a relationship in which everything he does for baby Lottie is seemingly not to Ben's liking. With their relationship now at breaking point, the question is - will it survive?

For that's the issue that this beautifully played work builds up to, given it showcases not only gay parenthood, but parenthood in general when one party is not biologically related to the child and finds themselves all but superfluous to the family unit. And whilst it's all but obvious how much Ben loves both his partner and child, this work nonetheless achingly reflects the emotional highs and lows to a side of life seldom seen in gay cinema, with both Macmillan and McGuire providing an acute reality check of the undesired consequences of raising a child, when the child appears more mine, than shared.

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

›› Don't Blame Jack ‹‹

a short film by Dale John Allen.

2019 | 29 mins | UK.

a deeply poignant cinematic essay on mental health.

Dave says:

From writer and director Dale John Allen comes this compelling portrait on an ex adrenaline junkie, once addicted to the hedonistic highs of the night, only to come down with a crush when the mundanity of ordinary life, hits home.

Prone to self-harm and now on prescription medication, here is a man who yearns for the reckless ways of his former life, even if he knows that such manic highs almost killed him. Yet it's in his search to escape the stark reality around him that finds Jack (Jordan Tweddle) chance upon Frank (Kane Surry) and a one-night stand that could be the catalyst for his salvation. That is, if he's prepared to let go of the man he was, to become the man he could be. But will he?

Intercut with striking visual imagery and language throughout, here Allen delivers a deeply poignant cinematic essay on mental health. It's a short in which Tweddle excels, digging deep into this acting reserves to vividly convey the raw emotions of a man whose desires and very insecurities are laid bare for all to see; in particular during the emotional closing scene. Sensuously gay to the core; frankly, this is not an easy work to watch, even if its' somewhat overlong drag scene and tranquil coastal views bring some much needed light to the decidedly dark narrative. Then again, this is not a comedy. Rather, a brutally realistic depiction of the every day struggles of those living with bipolar disorder, at a time in which Covid has taken a grave toll on the mental health and well-being of all too many. An outstanding debut work.

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

›› Foreign Lovers ‹‹

a short film by Timothy Ryan Hickernell.

2017 | 19 mins | US.

an inspired meditation on finding love in the digital age.

Dave says:

Written, directed and starring Timothy Ryan Hickernell, this is but an inspired meditation on finding love in the digital age.

For here we find Hickernell cast himself as the American of the story; a native New Yorker whose dreams of being an actor find him on the ferris wheel of the endless highs and lows of the acting circuit. Venturing into the city for a theatrical fix, by chance he encounters one of the dancers of the show he had just seen; namely Lucio Nieto in the role of the Italian Foreigner of the piece. Sensing an immediate connection between them, their one-night together seems all too short, given the many interests they share. Only can you fall in love with someone in twenty-four hours?

For that's the question that dominates the story, given this beautifully observed work goes out of its way to showcase the clear bond between the two men; literally strangers to each other and yet with so much in common. Only in life it can take others to make you realize the obvious, or in this case a foreigner to make the American see that love can indeed be found just around the corner, should you not be wearing blinkers to it. All of which makes for a sweet, perhaps overtly sweet tale of finding love in the age where dating apps have taken away the spontaneity of meeting the potential love of your life - by chance, even if here you cannot help but be left wondering if there could have been more to this relationship, than just that of a brief encounter?

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

›› Mankind ‹‹

a short film by Layke Anderson.

2019 | 13 mins | UK.

the relationship breakdown scenario turned on its head.

Dave says:

Apart; both physically and emotionally, distanced love is explored in this psychotronic short film from co-writer and director Layke Anderson.

Then again and with Stephen Fry as Executive Producer, this was never going to be your typical depiction of the breakdown of a relationship, opening with loveable Evan (Alexis Gregory) facing the possibility that his long-term partner Will (Ricky Nixon) is cheating on him. Or at least that's what Evan and for that matter we, the audience, are led to believe. Only in hacking into Will's laptop, is Evan prepared for the startling truth of the matter?

In short, this is one of those stories in which things are not what they first appear, with Anderson alongside co-writer Ryan Child playing with the narrative for all its worth, leading you in one direction, only to slowly reveal the true reason behind Will's decision to say goodbye to the man he clearly loves. To that end, both Gregory and Nixon deliver their lines to a tee and yet the dialogue is somewhat stilted, a direct result of initially having to conceal the unexpected truth behind their separation.

Intercut with flashbacks to happier times of the two together; from when they first met clubbing the night away on a strobe lit dance floor, to that of their rampant sexual desire for each other, this is a work that highlights the incessant need for many to explore the world around us, when life even love itself, seemingly isn't enough. Yet somehow and in spite of its interesting and certainly in terms of gay cinema, unique theme, it sadly falls short of the epic work it could and frankly, should have been. And that's a shame, for there's an awful lot to like here, with stunning neon lit shots of the city merging effortlessly into the proud to be gay narrative, one that literally turns the relationship breakdown scenario on its head. And that is welcome with open arms, in this age of repetitive gay storylines.

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

›› Isha ‹‹

a short film by Christopher Manning.

2018 | 15 mins | UK.

an achingly real depiction of being gay and Muslim.

Dave says:

From the London Film School and noted writer and director Christopher Manning comes this achingly real depiction of being gay and Muslim.

Not that Rahmi (Horia Savescu) is out to his family and certainly not to his mother (the wonderful Maia Morgenstern) who pines away for her old life near the Black Sea, leaving the responsibilities of the head of the household to her eldest son, upon the absence of their father. Romanian by birth, but now living life in London, Rahmi speaks his native tongue to his mother and to his rebellious younger brother Cemil (Game of Thrones' Lino Facioli in an all too brief cameo), but words of love to his partner Sean (Dario Coates), turning to him in the night for comfort under the pretence of working the late shift. Only for how much longer can Rahmi continue to live a lie?

That being gay and Muslim is not an oxymoron, goes without saying. Yet as this compelling work poignantly illustrates, for those living a double life, it's a never-ending balancing act between the Call to Prayer and the Call of Your Heart. For here the cinematic spotlight is turned on a man desperately wanting to live the life he yearns for, whilst equally aware of both tradition and the responsibilities placed upon him. That the narrative refreshingly stays away from the "find a nice girl" scenario is to Manning's credit; the mother here being a woman who is far from blind to her son's subterfuge, even if it's debatable as to how much she actually knows, preferring instead to grant her son permission to live his life - as he so wants.

Laced with an inherent fear of sexual discovery, this well-played work that to its strength does not shy away from depicting acts of gay sex, frankly has a lot to say in its all too limited duration and in particular of the inner conflict for those caught between same-sex love and a doctrine that forbids their very sexuality.

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

›› RUOK ‹‹

a short film by Jay Russell.

2018 | 13 mins | US.

an emotional tale of relationship woe between two best friends.

Dave says:

There's a lush The Sprinkler Sprinkled feel to this short film from writer and director Jay Russell that could so easily have been made during the height of the Covid pandemic, given only two of the cast appear in the same scene together.

It tells the story of close friends Alex (Peter Mark Kendall) and Bryan (Zachary Booth of Keep the Lights On fame) whose friendship is tested to breaking point when Bryan opts to sleep with all round cutie Craig (Sydney James Harcourt), knowing full well that he happens to be the object of Alex's unrequited crush. Desperately trying to patch things up with his best friend when the shenanigans of the night before come home to roost, the two exchange a series of heated text messages, only to be interrupted by the incessant ringtone of Alex's dating app bringing him every possible variant of night time delights. Yet just when the two warring factions appear to have reached a truce, things take an unexpected turn for the better for one, and for the worse for the other.

This is one of those short films that to say more, would give the game away. What can be said is that it's well-played throughout, with Russell using every visual trick in the book including an array of texting symbols, to keep you engaged, in the process taking a comical snapshot of the pseudonyms used by those ever up for some casual man-sex, only to illustrate how the words of those addicted to dating apps should perhaps, never be taken at their face value. That it closes with a neat twist in its tale is to Russell's credit, bringing his emotional tale of relationship woe to a sexy conclusion. Delightful.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› Manivald ‹‹

a short film by Chintis Lundgren.

2017 | 13 mins | Estonia - Croatia - Canada.

an animated delight on to thy ownself, being true.

Dave says:

This quirky animation from co-writer and director Chintis Lundgren focuses on the life of soon to be thirty-three Manivald; a fox of the closeted variety who appears all but happy in his harmonious relationship with his mother. Yet in spite of a series of academic achievements, Manivald spends his days and nights living at home, with the outside world and all of its adult delights seemingly passing by in front of him. That is until their washing machine breaks down and the arrival of hunky plumber Toomas sends pulses racing for both mother and son!

Bright and colourful throughout and proudly gay to the core, at the heart of this eastern European animation is the theme of emotional and sexual awakening. It's touchingly played, highlighting the strength it takes to break free from a close bond and how things may not always appear, as they seem. Complete with many a comical, if at times heartbreaking moment when the bitter realities of life hit home, this nonetheless is an animated delight on to thy ownself, being true.

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

›› The World in Your Window ‹‹

a short film by Zoe McIntosh.

2017 | 15 mins | New Zealand.

a beautifully played work on moving on from the death of a loved one.

Dave says:

There's a series of beautifully touching moments in the compelling short film from co-writer and director Zoe McIntosh.

For grief-stricken over his death of his wife, eight-year-old Jesse's father (Joe Folau) has all but given up on life, confining himself to living in their rundown caravan on the impoverished outskirts of town. Closing the curtains to the outside world, his son Jesse (David Lolofakangalo Rounds) has been left with the responsibilities of seeing to the chores of life, seeking rare moments of happiness in making picture box photo displays from a family album of happier times. That is, until the arrival of tattooed, V8 driving Repa (Lena Regan) who offers them the opportunity to break free from their grief and embrace life itself.

Whilst a simple scenario, this nonetheless is a beautifully played work on moving on from the death of a loved one. It's a short that finds Regan play the catalyst for that change as a hard as nails transsexual, who sees the predicament that Jesse finds himself in and with a heart of gold goes out of her way to make his father face the past, so as to engage with the present by seeing the world outside their window.

Yet it's Rounds who steals the show in the role of Jesse; his captivating eye movements and body language saying more than the almost laconic narrative. All of which makes for an inspiring short film that tugs at your very heartstrings, by vividly juxtaposing the sadness of a child who yearns for the sheer joy and laughter of the children around him. Simply wondrous.

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

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