›› BOYS ON FILM #21: BEAUTIFUL SECRET ‹‹






Once again the good folk at Peccadillo Pictures proudly present a wondrous collection of nine sexually diverse short films that and in the main,
vividly contrast the outstretched hand of human compassion with the homophobic mindset of those all too close to home.

›› Overall Duration - 132 mins | DVD Release Date - 8th March, 2021 ‹‹

›› posted: Thursday, 23rd December, 2021 ‹‹




›› Memoirs of a Geeza ‹‹

a short film by Theo James Krekis.

2019 | 4 mins | UK.

an achingly realistic depiction of a father's pride in his son's sexuality.

Dave says:

From writer and director Theo James Krekis comes this strikingly vivid account of a father's reaction to his son's homosexuality.

Yet "perception, is a funny thing" as the East End Geeza (Elliot Warren) of the title keeps on reminding you, with his recollections on life, sex and in particular his family, the unbroken voice-over that accompanies a carefully constructed montage of Super 8 fashioned home movie footage. It's a neat concept that allows for a This Is My Life styled narrative, as we gain a frank insight into this working class lad's life and of how his father (Tony Richardson) discovered his son painting his toe nails in the morning, and moreover his surprising reaction to such. But then; perception, is a funny thing.

Only this captivating short film is all but over before you know it. And that's a shame, because what we see is an achingly realistic depiction of a father's pride his son's sexuality. Simply wondrous.


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




›› We Are Dancers ‹‹

a short film by Joe Morris.

2019 | 30 mins | UK.

an engrossing depiction of the last days of decadent life in pre-Hitler Berlin.

Dave says:

From writer and director Joe Morris of Junk fame, comes this compelling depiction of those who were willing to stand up for their sexual freedom, in the face of the rising tide of fascism.

For exit stage left Kit Kat Klub singer Sally Bowles and show your appreciation for the new Cabaret star in town, namely Hansi (Hans Piesbergen); an ageing drag-queen who has lived through times that gave hope of gay liberation, only to see those dreams cast aside in the rapidly changing political landscape of Germany, 1933. Warned of what to expect should she perform her crowd-pleasing satire of the Hitler / Hess leadership by her ex partner Ulrich (Simon Eckert); Hansi is faced with the decision of whether to forever hide in the shadows, or confront prejudice by proudly going on stage knowing full well the dire consequences of singing it like it is, when members of the Nazi party come knocking at your door.

In part German / English and intercut with archive footage of the period, including the chilling words of how degeneracy will be eradicated from German life, this short film frankly plays like a feature, vividly capturing the relatively few years before the first concentration camp confirmed the heart-wrenching horrors of the Holocaust in all of its sickening form. Only we're not at that point - yet. For like an amber light, here the narrative focuses on the alarming change in political views of the time, one in which parallels can so easily be made to the "do as I say, not do as I do" leaders of today who in a frightening case of history repeating, are seemingly only too willing to put into law a series of restrictions on our human rights and freedoms.

Piesbergen is simply outstanding in the role of Hansi / Hans Stürm aka "Miss Eldorado", namely the renowned artiste of Berlin's most famous pre-WW2 club for all members of the sexual rainbow. What became of Stürm, sadly remains unknown. But here Morris offers an interpretation that all too poignantly illustrates how the young man she fell in love with, is no longer the open-minded youth she once knew. All of which makes for an engrossing depiction of the last days of decadent life in pre-Hitler Berlin and of a man who realizes that to save others, he must be willing to make the Ultimate Sacrifice. Simply captivating.


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




›› My Dad Works the Night Shift - Mon Père Travaille de Nuit ‹‹

a short film by Zachary Ayotte.

2018 | 14 mins | Canada.

a wonderfully refreshing take on the coming out scenario.

Dave says:

From writer and director Zachary Ayotte comes this captivating short film about a gay teenager determined to out himself; whatever the consequences be.

For fourteen-year-old Félix (Victor Boudreault) is that calculating and conniving youth, caught in a monotonous trap of boarding school life during the week and weekends spent with his conservative father (François Trudel) and his pious devotion to the Church. Enlisted to sing in the local choir, whether he wants to or not, Félix's sole means of escape is time spent at the local swimming pool, where he openly lusts after an older boy by the name of Vincent (Antoine L'Écuyer). Not that this is a one-way conversation, as Vincent is more than happy to play along, to the point of spending the night with Félix when his father's out working the night shift. Only in a game of sexual cat and mouse, just who's been caught in the trap?

Beautifully executed throughout, here Ayotte weaves an erotic, if at times surreal mix of fact and fantasy that highlights a young man's desire to out himself to his father, by literally getting caught in the act. Not that this boy hasn't already hinted at the homosexual facts of the matter, leaving so many clues around the house that his sexual orientation is all but obvious. Yet with a father who clearly would prefer not to deal with the reality of his son's sexuality, Félix seemingly has no other option but to raise the stakes, knowing full well the explosive ramifications it will have.

In short and in a work that's full of positives, together with a few surprises along the way, Boudreault excels in the role of the rebellious teen at the heart of the story and yet as good as he is, it's the narrative that steals the show, by breathing fresh life into the often stale coming out scenario, by wonderfully showcasing a manipulative puppet master at work, knowingly pulling the strings of those around him to his desired effect. A pure delight.


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




›› The Pier Man - L'homme Jetée ‹‹

a short film by Loïc Hobi.

2019 | 21 mins | Switzerland - France.

a striking portrait of the longing to escape a soul-destroying life.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Loïc Hobi, this bittersweet tale of despondency focuses on the life of a lonely young man who yearns to leave the remote coastal region, where he lives and works.

For lonesome docker Théo (Hubert Girard) is that man, forever pining for adventure on the high seas, having found himself trapped in the repetitive nature of his humdrum existence. That is, until a broken turbine forces a cargo ship to make an unscheduled mooring. Seizing the opportunity to try and become part of the crew, Théo is only too keen to engage in their initiation ritual of the bare-knuckle kind, having set his sights on joining sailor Giuseppe (Youssouf Abi-Ayad) aboard the ship. Only come sailing time, is Théo destined to be part of the crew, or just another of Giuseppe's ports of call?

In what is in many ways a two-man play, here we find Hobi deliver a work that achingly juxtaposes the mindset of two men; from one who's only too well aware of the prison like reality of a life spent seemingly always at sea, to that of a man all too naïve to the hard life that lies ahead of him, should a sailor, he become. Only here and if truth be told, Théo is not ready for a life on the ocean wave, being hardly at ease in his own skin.

Gritty, downbeat and with a narrative that keeps you guessing as to what's coming next, this striking portrait of the longing to escape a soul-destroying life has a lot going for it, being well-played throughout, even if it's all but obvious that Théo is more in love with the idea of leaving hand-in-hand with the man he's clearly fallen for; rather than the actual rigours of the job itself. Say no more.


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




›› My Sweet Prince ‹‹

a short film by Jason Bradbury.

2019 | 12 mins | UK.

a striking portrait of a young man's sexual isolation.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Jason Bradbury of We Once Were Tide fame, this short film vividly depicts a gay teen's burgeoning online relationship with another young man; both of whom seek the friendship of those who walk a different sexual path in life.

Only here don't think of the digital broadband speeds of today. For set on the Isle of Wight in 2003, here the narrative achingly depicts the dawn of the internet; namely the days of modem dial-up connections, frustratingly slow download speeds, alongside VHS tapes, video cameras and mobile phones of the basic variety. Yet as antiquated as such technology is today, back then it was revolutionary, bringing internet access to the world and to gay boy Tommy (Yoni Roodner), the opportunity to have a MSN Messenger chat with another gay teen who goes by the name of 'Mysweetprince' (Harry Saward). Only is Tommy ready for the next step, in the form of an online video call with the man himself?

Like many a short film before it and no doubt after, this poignant piece ends just when the story starts to focus on a relationship, that could be. Between then however, there's many a bittersweet scene to be had, in a work that finds Bradbury delight in intercutting the narrative with grainy fragments of teenage video diaries, at times almost Jarmanesque in style, that together showcase the dark side of Tommy's nature, hanging out with a crowd heavy into solvent abuse, solely down to his unrequited longing for a hetero member of the group who's clearly off limits.

The result is a striking portrait of a young man's sexual isolation, seemingly the only gay on the Isle and of his desperate need to connect with another gay teen; albeit via the internet, unable as he is to come out to those around him. Yet this is also a cinematic testament to how fast IT changes and what was cutting-edge technology once, now belongs in a science museum. A telling work; indeed.


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




›› Dungarees ‹‹

a short film by Abel Rubinstein.

2020 | 5 mins | UK.

a visually bright and upbeat work on the growing pains of youth.

Dave says:

Screened in the UK by Channel 4 as part of their celebration of the Iris Prize Best British Shorts series of short films, this joyous work from writer and director Abel Rubinstein tells the story of transgender Blake (Pete MacHale) and cisgender gay boy Cane (Ludovic Jean-Francios); best friends and more who hang out with each other, whilst grappling with their sexual insecurities.

Sadly all but over before you know it, this touching tale nonetheless has a lot going for it, as here we find Rubinstein making the most of the limited screen time, wonderfully juxtaposing a series of comic asides and here cue some noisy sex and an oversized dildo, with a series of heartfelt emotions, including Blake's deep desire to - look like a man. Using the screen like an artist uses his palette, the result is a visually bright and upbeat work on the growing pains of youth. A pure delight.


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




›› Clothes & Blow ‹‹

a short film by Sam Peter Jackson.

2018 | 23 mins | US - UK.

a comical roller coaster ride on the meaning of life and family.

Dave says:

From writer and director Sam Peter Jackson comes this comical roller coaster ride on the meaning of life, if not family itself.

Not that American voice over artist Daniel (David Menkin) would pay much attention to that, given his life in London is seemingly an endless mix of client calls and one-night stands. All that is about to change however when his mother Stephanie (Nancy Baldwin) comes calling, paying him an unexpected, or should that be unwelcome visit from the States, together with inviting his sister Chrissie (Christy Meyer) to 'pop over from Geneva' for a long overdue family reunion. Wasting no time in cutting to the chase, Stephanie promptly asks Daniel why he's never come out to her? A question that catches Daniel off guard, as much as when Stephanie later learns that Daniel has been out to his sister for years. With tempers raised with words to match, what will it take for all three to unite in the spirit of Christmas?

Wonderfully played throughout, here we find Jackson weave a tale that's both touching and yet equally frustrating; frustrating in the sense that there's just too much going on here, with the narrative crying out for breathing space. And that's a shame, because the screenplay is filled with a series of hilarious one-liners that are delivered in typical Joan Rivers quick-fire fashion, with Baldwin clearly delighting in the role of the Mother of all Matriarchs.

That the story ends with Daniel realizing the shallowness of his life and seizing a moment that could lead to something more meaningful, is of no surprise. What is a surprise is how Baldwin and Menkin prove to be a great double act, leaving Meyer to shine as the compassionate soul of the piece. Yet with almost every scene delivered in top gear, you cannot help but end up feeling that this is a feature condensed into a short. That said, there's still a lot to like here; in particular the central theme of coming out to those close to you, before they ask you the question themselves!


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




›› A Normal Guy - Un Baiat Normal ‹‹

a short film by George Dogaru.

2019 | 14 mins | Romania.

one man's incessant search for a body beautiful for the night.

Dave says:

From writer and director George Dogaru comes this poignant short film on the dividing line between sex and the search for love.

For you've been there before; at your local gay club, scanning the crowd to see who could be your Mr Right for the night, or perhaps more. And then you see someone, that being all-round cutie Vlad (Pedro Aurelian); namely a man who ticks all of your 'let's get it on' boxes and before you know it, you make your move. But is it to be a move that gay boy Daniel (Vlad Bîrzanu) will live to regret, when he comes to realize that the object of his desire is more interested in a bed for the night, than the man sharing it with him.

As the first Romanian short film I've reviewed, this work frankly has a lot going for it, not least of which is its remarkably honest approach to the gay scene and of a man forever turning away potential boyfriends, if not love itself, in his incessant search for a body beautiful for the night. Yet this is also a work whose narrative presents Daniel with a series of obstacles that repeatedly prevent him from getting the sexual high he so desires. Not least of which is that Vlad is totally wasted; strung out on drink 'n' drugs, incapable of sex, let alone love.

Only it has to be said that Daniel is far from a likeable character at times, throwing out the girl (Ilona Brezoianu) he shares a flat with on a bitter cold night, just so he can have the place to himself; whereas in reality all he needed was a bedroom. And whilst Daniel is the central character of the piece, the star of the show is Alex Bogdan who here excels as his cousin Sandel; namely a man whose conversation is full of the bigoted language and homophobic banter that whilst alarming, nonetheless reflects the ingrained conservative views held by many in this part of the world, and yet and in a narrative twist, equally reveals himself to be more than at ease in a gay man's company, come close-of-play.

Set in Bucharest and the developing gay scene therein, the result is a work that transcends its country of origin, given this scenario could easily apply to anyone lusting after a Mr Right, only to find in him your Mr Wrong, with Daniel here having ignored his cousin's advice of just going after - a normal guy. Say no more.


Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - the erect monty | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars




›› Pretty Boy ‹‹

a short film by Pierce Hadjinicola and Sinclair Suhood.

2020 | 9 mins | Australia.

coming out in bigoted small-town Australia.

Dave says:

From the writing / directorial pairing of Pierce Hadjinicola and Sinclair Suhood comes this emotional short film about coming out in bigoted small-town Australia.

Not that gay teenager Kevin (Orlando Norman) knows about that yet, happy as he is to let his true sexuality remain in the closet, knowing full well the homophobic wrath that coming out to his mother (Nicole Yardley) would almost certainly bring. Yet when his out 'n' proud boyfriend Nicko (Mert Altunsoy) tells him that he can no longer live in the shadows, Kevin must finally face up to the fact that and unlike his supportive sister Tara (Mel Jarnson), not everyone in his life will accept him for who he is.

Packing a powerful cinematic punch in under ten minutes, this telling work vividly contrasts the outstretched hand of human compassion with outright prejudice and not only from those close to home, but from those whose close-minded condemnation of the LGBT+ community, goes against the law of the land itself. Yet and whilst this work is beautifully played throughout, the real star here is the narrative itself that poignantly illustrates the reality that in to thy ownself - being true, you have to have the inner strength to at times, say goodbye to those you love, but who are unwilling to accept the beauty of the sexual diversity of life. That that is their loss, goes without saying, in this achingly real short film.


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

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