Shorts Directed By: Hong Khaou, Michael Simon, Jason Bushman, Timothy Smith, Jean Baptiste Erreca, Damien Rea, Tim Hunter, John Winter, Max Barber
Reviewed By: Timothy Breach
A collection of short films by various different writers and directors from around the world, focusing on LGBT+ issues and thematically linked by the collection title.
Hard love. Hard love? What does hard love mean to you? Is it a one-sided relationship? An abusive relationship? Is it even worth it? The short films in this collection address ‘hard love’ from various different angles, from love for a friend to love for oneself, with varying degrees of success.
There is not a right order or wrong order to watch them in (the DVD menu and the back of the case sometimes differ in their order) but I started with Summer and didn’t regret it. Summer is a coming out story between a guy and his best friend. I know what you’re thinking, ‘I’ve seen it a thousand times’, but wait, Summer does it without the cliché or melodrama we have come to expect. It has a fresh approach. I was also impressed with the performances of the leads. There’s a lightness and sense of reality to it all which can be summed up in my favourite line: “You can’t just nick my leaf!”
Next was Gay Zombie. I’ve only ever seen one other gay zombie film and that was rather strange and explicit… I won’t name it. Gay Zombie definitely took a different approach; comedy. A gay zombie simply wants to find love. However fun it was, and despite the make-up effects being better than expected, there wasn’t anything spectacular about it. In the end I felt that it was too long for the content and too long to stay engaged throughout.
I was also slightly disappointed by Serene Hunter but for different reasons. There is a heavy focus on sex and promiscuity which (don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude) fed into pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes of gay identities. I know that such people exist and I am not judging them, but I know that there is more to those people but often this is overlooked in the media. The question that persisted in my mind was ‘Is Luc actually a hunter or is he just a commitment-phobe?’ Many of us try and project an image of who we think we should be when in fact we are completely different.
Things certainly picked up with Le Weekend. I don’t want to give too much away about it because it is something that you need to watch to experience. In essence, it is a straight guy’s perspective on the gay lifestyle… there’s some juicy deceit to keep you hooked. Everything from the cinematography to the dialogue works beautifully together to create a short that is thoroughly captivating from start to finish. However, I would be interested to get a French speakers opinion on it; maybe the language made it seem more alluring than it actually is.
Cowboy Forever is a beautiful (if too long) exploration of a gay Brazilian’s friendship with the new guy on the ranch; the gay guy is in the closet. It beautifully explores a mutual love between friends. Despite one wanting more than the other, it never truly becomes an issue and isn’t milked for dramatic effect. It was beautiful to watch a compelling short focussed on mutual respect and love rather than sex. If I were to pick a hole with it, it was rather long… maybe too long, with the pace dragging in places.
There was a change of tone with Scarred, as you can probably tell from the title. This one is hard to sum up without giving anything away; if I say the wrong thing, the twist is revealed. So how can I whet your appetite; Nudity, sex and violence? Is that enough? How about a cliff-hanger? Scarred was simple yet executed effectively. It keeps you engaged and I personally was surprised by the twist… maybe I’m blind to these things though. What I am unsure about however is whether karma exists or whether gays can be psychos. Let me know what you think!
Let’s skip past Packed Lunch, unless a documentary about Speedos is your thing?
After the yawn inducing Speedos documentary was possibly the best short in the collection; Mirror Mirror. One actor, one person but two characters. Confused? Mirror Mirror is a heart-wrenching story of a man saying goodbye to his drag alter-ego. It beautifully explores the relationship between the two sides of the character and shows how they are almost two different people who, over time, have become so entwined that it has become destructive to the man behind the make-up. Love for oneself is the most important love of all, and this love drove a man to give up something he loved; how more moving can it get? For me it is hard to fault anything besides the fact that it ended.
So how do you follow that? Well you can’t top the drama so comedy is the best option and VGL-Hung fits the bill. To those under 20, you may never have experienced a chatroom. Chatroom, what’s that you ask. It’s a thing that was popular before smartphones and Grindr or Tinder. It’s how people met online, hooked up and dated. They still exist you know (but I won’t promote a site I know because you may hunt me down!). VGL-Hung is a fun insight into gay dating culture in the late 00’s and very much pokes fun at the clichés, expectancy and lingo. It may feel dated in places but many of the points it makes are still relevant today.