How much of ourselves do we show to others? And how much do we keep locked away? No matter how much of our personality sits above the water and how much is submerged, our desires often float to the top—the need for connection, belonging and understanding central to the human experience. However, for many LGBTQ+ people, the relationship between hiding and seeking is impacted by social oppression. Many spend their most formative years hiding who they are from others, forcing their emotions and desires down. And no matter at what age you choose to break free and come out, the ghosts of those years spent hiding still lurk in the shadows.
The Male Gaze: Hide and Seek explores the complicated relationship between belonging, freedom and desire. From the powerful bonds of friendship in our early teens to the random sexual encounters we seek in an online world. Each short story, exploring hidden emotions alongside long-held desires. While simultaneously reflecting our global need for companionship, place and purpose. The result is another assured and insightful celebration of the power of short films. NQV Media once again brings a wealth of voices, artistry and storytelling to the screen in a blaze of pride.
Directed by Leandro Goddinho and Paulo Menezes, Lolo opens the collection. Lolo is 11 years old and confident in his emerging sexuality. But, when Lolo’s new boyfriend refuses to go public due to Lolo being ‘too gay,’ Lolo’s confidence is knocked. Luckily his vibrant friends Elena and Toby are on hand to help. The result, a sublime short film that unpicks the fears we dwell on as we emerge from the cocoon of childhood; its message of optimism, strength and friendship shines with sincerity and joy.
Following the optimism of Lolo, The Den, directed by Lorenzo Caproni, is a dark and brooding exploration of hidden desire. Here, Caproni explores the secrets kept locked away by those who choose to live one life and dabble in another. Christian, a married man with a child, is enjoying a beach break when a young man from his past appears. But does Christian view their meeting as an opportunity or threat? The Den quickly spirals into the darkest reaches of power, protection and secrecy. Its final scenes leave us with far more questions than it answers as themes of abuse, power and control take hold.
Our next film, Stanley, directed by Paulo Roberto, explores desire in closed rural communities. Its themes of risk, exploration and sex, wrapped in the power of random connections, dance and experimentation. This is followed by If Only You Were Mine, directed by David Benedek. We all hope the relationships we build provide security, love and freedom. But, in reality, relationships are often complicated; one partner longing for a deeper connection while the other longs for freedom. These conflicts in shared expectations often lead people to hide from the very partner they long to love. These feelings, never more pronounced than within our first tentative relationships. Here the interface between sex, desire and love is often confused and wrapped in self-doubt. And it is here where Benedek’s short film finds a powerful voice, layering it assured narrative with themes of confusion, hidden emotions and vulnerability.
Finally, No Strings, directed by Eoin Maher, explores the world of online connection and loneliness. Bryn has recently moved from Holyhead to London. However, his move has resulted in disappointment and disconnect: his only comfort, a range of random online hookups. But, on inviting over Sean, an opportunity for a much-needed connection dawns. But will Bryn allow Sean into his world? And can a ‘no strings’ hook up lead to friendship and belonging? Maher’s delicate and insightful short film explores the perennial subject of loneliness in a city full of random connections. The easy access, anonymous world of gay dating apps, both an opportunity and curse in building a sense of belonging. While at the same time, he gives voice to the challenge and apprehension of creating a new life in London’s urban sprawl.
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