Once again the good folk at Peccadillo Pictures proudly present another wondrous collection of sexually diverse short films that and in the main,
take an insightful and highly engaging look at gay men and their lives and loves, through the ages.

›› Overall Duration - 138 mins | DVD Release Date - 27th June, 2022 ‹‹

›› posted: Monday, 20th March, 2023 ‹‹

›› Have We Met Before? ‹‹

a short film by Oliver Mason.

2019 | 12 mins | UK.

the inherent need for human contact through gay times past and present.

Dave says:

From writer and director Oliver Mason comes this informative, if all too brief docudrama chronicling how gay men have met each other over the decades for sex, friendship and perhaps something more akin to a beautiful thing.

Beginning with the 'private members clubs' of yesteryear where gay men met each other strictly behind closed doors, it isn't long before we're transported to the 1st July, 1972 when the UK's first Pride march was held in London, in an era where 'hanky codes' were to be found expressing the unspoken sexual desires of their respective owner. As cottaging and cruising become an almost daily routine for many, here we're reminded of the thrill of the chase, alongside the ever present danger of police raids, let alone attracting the attention of those whose sole intent was to do you physical harm. Cut to modern times and with the advent of the internet, gay men and sex are but a click away, even more so now in the age of social networking and a multitude of apps dedicated to hooking you up with a man for the night or the day for that matter, even if and for some, this sanitized version of cruising has removed the somewhat seedy, yet homoerotic nature of the lust for man-sex.

Complete with Pierre Emö of Fragile - Babtou Fragil fame and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge donning many a guise to depict the times and indeed ever changing fashions and hairstyles that once were and now are, accompanied to the telling vocal contributions from a series of interviewees, this is but an upbeat journey through gay times past and present; from the sexual openness of the 'proud to be gay' marches of today, to times when our fight for gay rights was just beginning in the face of intense opposition from the public, politicians and religious leaders alike. Only at just twelve minutes duration, there's naturally many an unavoidable gap in the narrative, not least of which is the evolution of the gay scene itself; from the early days when bars were mainly located on the outskirts of the community, to the vibrant LGBTQ+ scene of today that attracts every colour of the gay to straight sexual rainbow of life and in which Pride itself is a massive celebratory event in the calendar of any major city.

Yet and in spite of the fine work from all cast and crew, with Emö in particular having a whale of a time in the costume and hair departments, the downside of this perceptive piece is that it's just too short - a short. What we do see however poignantly illustrates the fact that whilst the way we meet other gay men has and will continue to change over the years, the inherent need for human contact remains the same, in all of its socially diverse forms.

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

›› The Act ‹‹

a short film by Thomas Hescott.

2020 | 18 mins | UK.

a beautifully produced tale of forbidden love in legally changing times.

Dave says:

Adapted by Thomas Hescott and Matthew Baldwin, with the contribution of noted EastEnders writer Pete Lawson, from their acclaimed 2014 stage play, this is but a compelling portrayal of gay sex and love during the period of parliamentary debates in the UK over the decriminalization of homosexual acts carried out in private between two men of twenty-one years or over; words that became law through the Sexual Offences Act of 1967.

For it's in these legally changing times that we come across twenty-something Matthews (Samuel Barnett); a young gay man who's grown tired of endless rounds of casual sex, ever longing to find friendship and perhaps something more meaningful in his life. Yet it's via a cottaging encounter that he chances upon Jimmy (Simon Lennon; aka formerly Ben Tucker of Emmerdale credit); an 'officially straight' and working class man who's soon to end up in his bed, much to the concern of his landlady Flo (Annette Badland). Sending letters to the man he clearly loves, it isn't long before Jimmy reminds Matthews that he's not like him in no uncertain terms. Having seemingly lost the love of his life, such is the least of Matthews' troubles when the police arrive at his door to take him in for questioning over matters relating to his words of love. Only when all appears dark in Matthews' world, could a ray of romance be about to shine?

Complete with a series of verbatim voice-overs of parliamentary views of the time, this is but a poignant portrait of the period in which homosexuality was still synonymous with guilt and shame. Yet Matthews, wonderfully played by Barnett, and during an era in which many a gay man stayed prudently in the closet, remained unapologetic about his sexuality, having proudly told the police that yes - he's an invert, namely the now seldom used term for a gay man; albeit whilst denying that any acts of indecency took place between the two, knowing that such was still Against the Law. It's an aspect of this work that finds Matthews' initial sexual openness, or rather the lack of it, strikingly juxtaposed with his later out 'n' proud self.

For and in many ways this is a work of contrasts, with Lennon's vivid portrait of Jimmy showcasing how opposites can and indeed do at times attract, given the two men are worlds apart in terms of class, intellect and moreover the desire to find love and be loved, in return. Yet and in spite of an underused Annette Badland recently of Midsomer Murders fame, it's Cyril Nri as Duchess Edna May who all but ends up stealing the show, clearly relishing every line of his fabulous, high camp character. Well-shot and played throughout and complete with a score featuring many a jovial gay ditty, let alone a smattering of Polari here and there, the result is a beautifully produced tale of forbidden love; if thankfully not for that much longer. Simply captivating.

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

›› First Position ‹‹

a short film by Michael Elias Thomas.

2019 | 20 mins | US.

a deeply poignant depiction of artistic aspirations in the face of AIDS.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Michael Elias Thomas, this is but a deeply poignant depiction of artistic aspirations in the face of AIDS.

Set in San Francisco in the 1980's, new to the city aspiring ballet dancer Zachary (Anthony Sorrells) is soon to be found dancing the night away; albeit not on stage, but on the dance floor at one of the city's vibrant nightclubs. And as luck would have it, the man who grabs his attention, together with his body, just happens to be Jamie (Mark Wax); namely an independent choreographer with his own dance studio. Becoming an item in seemingly no time at all, with Zachary putting into dance the steps of his lover, all appears perfect in their lives. Until that is, Zachary notices strange blotches appearing on his skin...

Contrasting past and present time frames to dramatic effect, here we find Thomas deliver an emotional work that charts the onset of AIDS on the mind and body of a gifted dancer who longs to perform, only knows the reality is that his body is starting to fail him. To that end, Sorrells excels in the role, even if this work is as much about his lover, as his character, notably shining the spotlight on the ramifications that Zachary's declining health has on their relationship, with Zachary all but throwing back Jamie's outstretched hand of compassion, love and support, seemingly determined to be the dancer he once was and in his mind, still is - on his own terms.

Well-played throughout and beautifully choreographed by James Tabeek, this heartfelt work is but an acute reflection of a period when so many of us lost all too many of our friends and family and they in turn lost their dreams and very life itself. Yet it's also testament to that passion for dance, or for love, or whatever your joie de vivre be, that makes each day worth living. A life-affirming work, goes without saying.

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

›› Winter - Invierno ‹‹

a short film by Luis Pacheco and Rafael Ruiz Espejo.

2021 | 17 mins | Mexico.

the touching tale of the drag styled bond between a father and son.

Dave says:

From the writing / directorial pairing of Luis Pacheco and Rafael Ruiz Espejo, the latter of Spring - Primavera fame, comes this touching tale of the drag styled bond between a father and son.

For having moved to the city to fulfil his dream of working as a cabaret artiste, the last thing that Nico (Pabel Castañeda) expected was for his estranged father to turn up out of the blue. As wigs and costumes are hastily put in the closet, along with his sexuality, Nico's father (Rafael Ruiz Lizarraga) makes himself useful around the flat, fixing this and finding that, perhaps even the telltale signs of a drag queen. Only Nico's father has come to the city for a reason, one that finds him lay his cards on the table, just as much as Nico is set to reveal his true sexual self.

Well-played throughout, this is a work that and for all of its many positives, is complete with a somewhat odd 'frozen in mid-motion, apart from Nico that is' sequence that's intentionally been left to the viewer to figure out. And whilst you may think that you know what the scene implies, it's nonetheless as if part of the picture is missing, making your conclusion somewhat formed on a fragment of information. Just as you're equally left wondering if Nico's best friend Javier knows more about his father and perhaps his sexuality, than what Nico does himself?

That aside, this is a work that in its own way wonderfully showcases the open arms of sexual acceptance, even if and having all but remained in the closet during his father's visit, the emotional impact of a father seeing his son for the first time as his true drag-fabulous self is somewhat missing, having been played more as a laconic embrace of his son's sexuality, than as a dialogue driven encounter. Yet the act itself speaks volumes; that of a father not only accepting of his son's sexuality and lifestyle, but moreover doing the best he can to make amends for times past, in the time left to him. Heart-warming; indeed.

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

›› The Suit Weareth the Man ‹‹

a short film by Mitchell Marion.

2020 | 29 mins | UK.

a captivating depiction of a gay man's lust for corporate greed, wealth and power.

Dave says:

Highly imaginative, dark, yet equally gay to the core is this engrossing work from writer and director Mitchell Marion of G O'Clock fame.

It tells the story of Maciej (Maciej Nawrocki); rising star of Voland Associates, namely a London based property company that specializes in the "redevelopment of commercial sites for community enhancement" or in plain English, the demolition of council houses to built luxury apartments for the rich. Trouble is, Maciej lives with his deeply pious Polish mother Marta (Katharina Naumow) on one of the estates earmarked for redevelopment, a fact that has not escaped his mother who makes her views known to her son in no uncertain terms, having refused to sign the required paperwork. All of which leaves Maciej in a dilemma, knowing that he must somehow find the money to pay for his mother's health care, given the signs of dementia are all but apparent, whilst subject to the demands of his sinister, if somewhat handsome boss Christopher (Jack Hardwick). Having already sacrificed his cultural identity, let alone his sexuality in order to climb the corporate ladder; somehow, something has to give and perhaps it already has, when 'Men In Black' start appearing in Maciej's life!

Yes, you read the last part right, for this three act mini-feature is as surreal, as it's a telling depiction of corporate greed at the expense of the lives of ordinary people. To that end, Hardwick excels as the ruthless boss determined to turn Maciej into one of his corporate slaves, even if it's Niels Justesen as 'The Suited Man' who ends up almost stealing the show, being in effect Maciej's subconscious, ever urging him to become the man and the very sexuality that he's been suppressing all his life. Complete with a key flashback sequence that reveals the reason behind such, here we find Nawrocki deliver a vivid portrayal of a man who's only too aware of both sides of the argument and moreover of what's morally right, yet equally what's financially rewarding.

Well-played throughout, with Naumow notably on fine form as the moral voice of the piece, this is a work whose striking cinematography by Ali Farahani of The Silent Child credit, is enhanced by a lush classical score, including the timeless music of Vivaldi. And whilst shades of the Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino thriller The Devil's Advocate are to be found, cue the title of the company, this nonetheless remains an alarming, if captivating depiction of a gay man's lust for corporate greed, wealth and power and the fact that it shines the spotlight on such at a time of the acute shortage of affordable housing, let alone the energy crisis and therein the exorbitant and rightly shameful profits made by the utility companies, is to Marion's credit. Yet it's also a beautifully crafted work that refreshingly breaks free from the standard gay narrative to inject new life into the often stale genre and frankly, is all the more rewarding as a result. Simply enthralling.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 5 stars

›› Infinite While It Lasts - Infinito Enquanto Dure ‹‹

a short film by Akira Kamiki.

2019 | 18 mins | Brazil.

the touching relationship between two men of differing sexuality.

Dave says:

There's a really nice romantic feel to this short film from writer and director Akira Kamiki, which is just as well as it's all about love; albeit with one key difference.

For it was at a Monday night party in São Paulo that Danny (Michel Pereira) caught sight of Seiji (Julio Aracack). Urged on by his best friend Bruna (Lisi Andrade) to get to know the man better, it isn't long before the two leave the noise behind for a quiet spot on the apartment's rooftop; a not so romantic encounter as you would think, given the rubbish they have to make their way though to appreciate the beauty of the night sky and the look of love, in each other's eyes. Only what do you do when you fall for a man who's into sex and you're not?

In short, here we find Kamiki deliver a 'boys in love' story that focuses on the rarely discussed issue of asexuality, one that finds Pereira on fine form as a man who's out with his sexuality not only as a gay man, but as a man who simply has no desire for sex. It's a situation that finds Danny's flatmate Arthur (Paulo Ernesto) openly question just how a relationship with Seiji could have any future, given their opposing views on getting up close and sexually personal. The result is a nagging doubt that all but lingers in Danny's mind, one that makes him put the stops on their burgeoning relationship. But for how long?

For that's the question that dominates the narrative, with Aracack achingly expressing the emotions of a man who whilst hitherto sexually active, has nonetheless fallen in love with a man who's not. That their bond is 'infinite while it lasts' goes without saying, in a work that beautifully charts the touching relationship between two men of differing sexuality. Yet it's also a telling testament to a sexuality rarely seen in gay cinema and indeed cinema in general for that matter and for depicting such, Kamiki has to be applauded.

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

›› Melon Grab ‹‹

a short film by Andrew Lee.

2017 | 10 mins | Australia.

a realistic portrait of the bromance styled friendship between two young men.

Dave says:

From writer and director Andrew Lee of Eric fame, comes this nicely played tale of the bond between two close friends.

For Corey (Noah Regan) and Jaxon (Noah Fuzi) are more like brothers than friends, given they hang out together, play video games together and are forever seen skateboarding together. Only their friendship is coming to an end, by way of Corey's parents divorce and with it, Corey leaving the area to stay with his mother. As thoughts of a friendship about to be lost fill their minds, for one the question is more of whether or not their relationship could have been anything other than just a bromance?

Well for one, it certainly could have been, given here Lee takes delight in dropping hints that this is also the story of a gay teenagers burgeoning sexuality. All of which makes for a realistic portrait of the bromance styled friendship between two young men and to that end, both Regan and Fuzi deliver wonderfully natural performances throughout; both on and off the skateboard.

Enhanced by the lush cinematography of Dane Howell, who beautifully captures the picture postcard views of the Central Coast region of New South Wales, this is a short film that and for all of its positives and of those there are many, does however notably lack the emotional impact of two best friends going their separate ways. Then again, is this of any surprise given and with a spoiler alert firmly in place, Lee has gone out of his way to deal with the issue by way of the boys' last skateboarding ride together, rather than a traditional 'arms around each other' goodbye. And whilst I dare say that this is not the ending that some would have preferred, it does nonetheless make for a more fitting close-of-play in keeping with the theme of the piece. Need more be said?

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

›› Thrive ‹‹

a short film by Jamie Di Spirito.

2019 | 17 mins | UK.

a telling work on the difficulty on being open with your HIV positive diagnosis.

Dave says:

From writer and director Jamie Di Spirito comes this telling work on the difficulty on being open with your HIV positive diagnosis.

It tells the story of two men who after a number of dating app texts, decide to meet in person to literally get to know each other better. The sex is great; trouble is that apart from the physical connection between them, they appear to have nothing else in common. Or do they?

For that's the issue that Di Spirito plays with, as Alex (Ben Aldridge) clearly wants more than just sex, only for hook-up Joe (Taofique Folarin) to rapidly decline his suggestion of going for breakfast, or even having a coffee together. Only that's all about to change, given there's more to their encounter than meets the eye. For it's now that Di Spirito plays his cinematic ace in the pack, by raising the issue of HIV and how difficult it is for those living with a positive result to be open with their status, knowing that rejection could well follow in what appeared at first to have been the start of something special.

The result is a work that's not only seriously sensuous in parts, but moreover questions: do you OR do you not tell the man you're about to have sex with, that you're HIV positive, even if your viral load is undetectable? It's an issue that all too few gay films address, with Di Spirito having not only raised the subject, but and to his credit delivered a sermon on the way that a HIV positive diagnosis should be handled between doctor and patient.

And whilst well-played by both Aldridge and Folarin, it's the narrative that speaks volumes come close-of-play and one that beautifully illustrates that being HIV positive and the dating rejections often attached to it, is still no drawback when it comes to finding - the one. Remarkably honest; goes without saying.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - seriously sensuous | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

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