Boys Feels: High Tide is available to stream and buy on Amazon Prime Video and Vimeo from 15 January 2021.
By the time we reach mid-life, our minds are an ocean of experiences, some good, some bad, some fun and some scary. These powerful memories and life-affirming experiences build up over time through a series of rivers, streams and creeks in our minds that join and separate with the tidal flow of humanity. If you close your eyes, you will probably be able to recall the experiences and memories that make up these rivers and streams. For some of us, they are the first delicate yet sharp feelings of love, while for others, their first sexual experience may come to mind. These memories are the very building blocks of you, whether good, bad, joyous or scary. Boys Feels: High Tide is delicate, powerful, and thought-provoking in equal measure, with four stunning films that take us back to the memories that helped define us as we grew into men.
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First in the collection is Ocean, directed by Emmanuel Laborie. It’s the summer of 1979, and 10-year-old Jean is heading to the coast with his parents and younger brother for a relaxing break. However, for Jean, the holiday is invaded by an unseen force, the realisation that his mum and dad may no longer be as happy and harmonious as he once thought. Here Jean’s mind churns as he tries to navigate the new emotions he keeps silently locked away. Meanwhile, his younger brother remains oblivious to his newfound fear as emotions run high. But, when tragedy strikes on the beach, Jean’s fears are replaced by more profound questions of mortality. Ocean delicately unpicks the need for security and safety in childhood. While at the same time exploring the confusion of death.
Next up is Go Daan Go! directed by Mari Sanders. Nine-year-old Daan loves to swim and is also rather talented at it. But, as Daan gains a much sought after place on the school swimming team, tensions mount at home. The reason for this only becomes apparent when Daan finds a collection of his mother’s old swimming medals in the attic – his mum’s career in swimming, cut short by a genetic heart defect, her consent, conditional on him passing a full medical check, as she lives out her past fears and disappointment through her son. But, Daan wants to swim and, as a result, finds himself caught in the middle of a parental rift, with one parent fearful of his newfound passion while the other encourages him from the sidelines.
Mari Sanders’ tale of parental love and concern speaks to the need for self-determination as children grow – the challenges of protection and growth, brought to the surface as one young boy strives for something he can own. But even more profound than this, Go Daan Go! reflects the challenges of allowing children to make their own choices as they grow, even if these clash with parental experience.
For every one of us, sex, bodily change, and hormones eventually invade the security of childhood. This change can be sudden, scary, confusing and exciting as a new world opens up fraught with risk, pleasure and emotion. These memories often linger in our minds long into adulthood, framing our relationships, desires, and need for human connection. Within this world of sexual discovery, the final two films of Boys Feels: High Tide find their voice. Here both explore the first burst of sexual discovery from two distinct angles.
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The Boy in the Ocean, directed by Friedrich Tiedtke, tackles the onset of bodily change and the emotions attached as 12-year-old Mathias discovers his body for the first time while on a sailing holiday with his parents. Here, his newfound feelings and desires clash with a sense that his parents and peers treat him as a child. But when an older teenage girl captures his attention on dry land, Mathias will attempt to navigate these new urges, desires and emotions with mixed results. Tiedtke’s short film beautifully explores one boy’s sexual awakening as the teenager emerges from the cocoon of boyhood.
In the final film of the collection Beach Boy, director Hannes Hirsch explores relationships, infatuation and emerging confidence as Dimi spends his summer vacation camping with his older brother, Steffen, by the Baltic Sea. Dimi is more than aware of his good looks but insecure when meeting women. Here his attempts at seduction are often clumsy as he attempts to build his communication skills. When Dimi meets two girls outside the camp, he finds himself fascinated by the older Isabelle – the only problem is she is his older brother’s new girlfriend. However, Dimi has no intention of letting his infatuation go, embarking on a mission to woo her at any cost. Hirsch is unafraid to explore the jealousy, obsession and clumsiness of teenage relationships through Dimi’s self-centred yet innocent behaviour. Here his ability to find his voice is hampered by a boy’s emotions housed in a man’s body.