Hidden in this collection of shorts are two or three better, more focused films. It is too long to bare all the weight of its sombre content in one sitting. Anyone trying to bake their way out of their coronavirus confinement will be familiar with the problem that a good ingredient, eaten too often, loses its allure. If you want to get the most out of this collection have it a slice at a time.
CHROMOPHOBIA (Tunisia, 6 mins) Dir. Bassem Ben Brahim
Grimms Fairy Tales have a pretty dark heart, there is a lot of kidnapping and cannibalism under their sugar coating. This beautifully childish animation gives us a queer fairy tale version of growing up in a conservative community where torture and beheading are closer to home than myth.
SLEEPOVER (Sweden, 9 mins) Dir. Jimi Vall Peterson
Our lives are at least as full of the things that don’t happen as they are of the things that do.This is the woulda, coulda, shoulda of young friendship and not knowing if an opportunity was missed
JUST ME (UK, 11 mins) Dir. Mickey Jones
A soapy Scouse affair sneaks its body count in just like Brookside in the eighties. On the eve of a wedding every film fan knows that no stag or hen night is complete until the coroner arrives
MINE (UK, 6 mins) Dir. Matthew Jacobs Morgan
For gay men surrogacy means having to choose who will be the biological father. That quandary is played out a little too obviously and never quite rises above an exposure of self involvement.
DON’T BLAME JACK (UK, 29 mins) Dir. Dale John Allen
The longest and the most flawed of the selection. Dealing with mental illness, self harm and mania this attempt to use poetry never quite manages to be poetic. References to Platonic ideals in between sex and suicide attempts is too arthouse to hit the authenticity that the subject matter warranted
FOREIGN LOVERS (US, 19 mins) Dir. Timothy Ryan Hickernell
Is it too much to gushingly fall in love with a handsome foreigner in just 24 hours? Asking for a friend…
MANKIND (UK, 13 mins) Dir. Layke Anderson
An odd piece of semi sci fi as two lovers are faced with the opportunity for one of them to join the first one way trip to Mars. Not quite philosophy, not quite romance it poses the question of whether we can stand still as individuals, couples or a species.
ISHA (UK, 15 mins) Dir. Christopher Manning
Rahmi, a Romanian Muslim immigrant is trying to live two separate lives as best he can. But his brother and his mother have noticed the split and the crack is about to engulf them all.
RUOK (US, 13 mins) Dir. Jay Russell
In the midst of the heavy content is this joyfully realistic gem. Giggle at the misunderstandings and revelations that texting brings when the audience can see both sides of the screen. Two friends vie over the affection of a man on a hook up app but only we get to see the full story.
MANIVALD (Estonia/Croatia/Canada, 13 mins) Dir. Chintes Lundgren
Another highlight is the second animation in this collection. This time it is comedy rather than horror. Manivald and his mom are both seduced by the sexy muscular washing machine repair man. The story line is a satire of porn but the kids book visuals are Seussically vibrant in a world inhabited by the foxiest of foxes with a swing band in the background.
THE WORLD IN YOUR WINDOW (New Zealand, 15 mins) Dir. Zoe McIntosh
A tattooed trans neighbour comes to the rescue of an 8 year old boy trying to bring his grief stricken father back to reality. Tragedy cuts through their normal social boundaries.
Don’t try to swallow this collection all in one go, especially if you are not in the mood for the woes of rumination. If you like to skip your vegetables and just enjoy the cupcake then RUOK and Manivald are for the pure pleasure seekers.
Review by Andrew Hebden
Queerguru Contributing Editor ANDREW HEBDEN is a MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES graduate spending his career between London, Beijing and NYC as an expert in media and social trends. As part of the expanding minimalist FIRE movement he recently returned to the UK and lives in Soho. He devotes as much time as possible to the movies, theatre and the gym. His favorite thing is to try something (anything) new every day.