Boys Feels: I Love Trouble is available to rent or buy on Amazon and Vimeo.
Our teenage years are often turbulent, uncertain and shrouded in deep and powerful emotions we have not yet learned to control. For the majority of us, we come through these years with only a few scars, whether emotional or physical. But for others, the path is far more complicated with family, peer group or isolation, creating a challenging crossroads where life can sink into a vicious cycle of trouble. For these young people, hope can seem distant as the net tightens, sometimes through choice and sometimes through social factors outside of their control—the conflict cycle spinning as they try to navigate whether an escape route any longer exists.
READ MORE: A NIGHT IN THE FIELDS
Does this mean all is lost for young people on the verge of crime or trouble? No, there are always opportunities to escape. But, many of these are held within the support or guidance of someone who stops to care. In their latest collection of short films, NQV explores a range of issues that can, and do, lead young men into a world of trouble. Each powerful film explores peer groups, poverty, isolation and social expectation. While simultaneously reflecting the emotional uncertainty that bubbles under the surface of every teenage boy, even if their public persona brims with unbridled confidence and arrogance.
Opening our collection is the quiet yet striking GOTTA, directed by Sarah Veltmayer. For many kids and teenagers, family separation and divorce can see them torn in two; the love they hold for one parent competing with their passion for the other. However, this is escalated when a new partner arrives on the scene. Suddenly, the family unit is threatened like never before, as a mysterious new man or woman appears. The hope that their parents’ physical and emotional love would one day rekindle shattered into a million pieces. For Leon, this realisation is too much, as he vents his anger and frustration on his mum’s partner’s prized motorcycle – the act of destruction rooted in the vanishing hope of his parent’s relationship ever finding a new chapter.
READ MORE: BOY FEELS: DESIRE IN THE DARK
Next is THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL (Paskutinis Skambutis), directed by Gabrielė Urbonaitė. Young people often acquire labels throughout their adolescence, some defined by their actions and some forced upon them through school, friendships and social standing. For Edgaras, the labels he carries are a mix of the two. His past criminal activity smuggling cigarettes for money dovetailed with the challenges of providing for his family—the family home, often without water and food due to the unpaid bills that haunt each day.
However, at least Edgaras has a loving girlfriend who helps support him in finding the right path. But, as the final day of school comes into view, with a party celebrating their freedom, money worries cloud his thoughts. After all, how can he show his girlfriend a good time when he has nothing to offer? Maybe just one last smuggling job will help Edgaras pay for the school party? But, while it may provide a financial solution to his worries, no job comes without risk, as Edgaras is about to discover. The Last Day of School highlights the decisions many young people are forced into taking due to hardship. Their ability to circumnavigate the poverty surrounding them is neither straightforward nor easy to define, with society quick to attribute labels to individuals without ever seeking to understand the reasons behind their actions.
BOYS FEELS: I LOVE TROUBLE – The Last Day of School (Paskutinis Skambutis)
Of course, sometimes, the anger, frustration and emotions we feel during our teenage years are less easy to define. Here the bubbling fury of adolescence is not caused by a direct event but by the realisation that everything around you is changing and you cannot stop things from moving. After all, life changes, and so do we, including our friendships, wants and desires. But, for young people, that change can be unsettling and scary as their world crumbles only to be reborn. In our third film, TREEHOUSE (Cabane), these themes find a powerful voice under the beautiful direction of Simon Guélat.
As a long summer draws its final breath, four young teenage friends explore an out of bounds military zone in the French countryside – their mission to save a treehouse built deep in the woods. But, for young Denis, the summer is also a transition as his best friend becomes more and more distant. Here his jealousy of Mathieu’s new interest in girls is coupled with a sense of their friendship ending. But as Denis invites Mathieu to sleep under the stars one last time, his frustrations will reach boiling point as childhood ends and adolescence begins.
BOYS FEELS: I LOVE TROUBLE – GAMEBOY
Our fourth film, GAMEBOY, directed by Giancarlo Sánchez, also explores themes of friendship. However, here it’s the power of the peer group that takes centre stage alongside the feeling of invincibility youth often brings. The result is an outstanding and honest portrayal of the teenage pack and its electric but unstable energy. Thijs, Tobias, Sjeng and Tarik do everything together, their self-created world one of rambunctiousness, humour and low-level anti-social behaviour. However, when the boys steal their school’s exam papers, a profiteering enterprise ensues. But, what seems perfect soon descends into unforeseen risks—the boy’s sense of invincibility their eventual downfall.
Finally, POLLUX, directed by Michaël Dichter, takes us back to themes of social status, inescapable poverty and the pressure to conform to a set of predefined labels. Here Dichter’s short film is searingly accurate in its conversations on how a place can define the purpose of so many of the young people it houses.
In a small industrial French town, the large factory that gave birth to its community is set to close – the income of the families whose lives depend on its manufacturing thrown into doubt. Meanwhile, for the town’s young people, the imminent closure means no annual summer camp. But Vivian and Max aren’t about to let the notion of a summer camp die in a town of few opportunities. However, Vivian’s plan involves a local gang leader who cares little for the boys’ safety. While Max has his own worries as he tries to support his mum while his brother is in prison. Over one day, both boys’ lives are about to change, but for one, the cloud that already hangs over his family name will define the result.
BOYS FEELS: I LOVE TROUBLE – POLLUX
Once again, NQV has curated an outstanding selection of short films. But, the deep-rooted social and personal issues housed in each exceptional short make Boys Feels: I Love Trouble even more impressive. Here, we are encouraged to look deeper than the behaviour that sits on the surface in exploring the complexity of adolescent masculinity, peer group and community. The result is a collection of films that never allow for simplistic stereotypes or negative caricatures, offering us a world-class journey into emerging masculinity.
READ MORE: BOYS FEELS: HIGH TIDE