THE FRENCH BOYS

The French Boys Quadrilogy (Live Blog)

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The French Boys Quadrilogy is released in four volumes by NQV Media over the next two months.


From the moment the Lumière Brother’s first wowed audiences with their motion picture La Sortie des Ouvriers de l’usine Lumière to Georges Méliès groundbreaking A Trip to the Moon, France has remained the beating heart of cinema. In the years following the Lumière Brother’s and Méliès, France would continue to break new ground in film. For example, Alice Guy-Blaché would blaze a path for women in filmmaking with L’enfant de la barricade in 1906. Meanwhile, France would equally pave the way for emerging LGBTQ+ representation on film with Club de femmes (1936), Olivia (1950) and the groundbreaking Un Chant D’Amour (1950). France has continued to view the short form film as an essential part of the cinematic landscape. Its commitment to the power and place of short films, never more evident than in the sphere of LGBTQ+ storytelling.

It is, therefore, no wonder that NQV Media’s new collection of gay shorts, The French Boys, is split over four volumes. It is also no wonder that these incredible films are some of the best LGBTQ+ short films out there. Each volume, taking us to new places through journey’s of love, family, grief, friendship, adolescence and identity. Over the next two months, we will bring you each volume, with capsule reflections on each of the fantastic short films held within.


READ MORE: THE DUTCH BOYS

The French Boys (Volume One)

Watch now on Amazon, Vimeo and Peccadillo Pod.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


SO LONG, PARIS! (Director: Charles Dudoignon-Valade)

Divorce can be a challenging process for children at the best of times; often, they live in the hope that their parents will find love again despite the odds. But, when this revolves around sexuality, this challenge can be even more profound. Many parents who leave a husband or wife due to ‘coming out’ find themselves caught in a trap. Do they tell their children that they are gay and introduce them to their new same-sex partner? Or do they hide their sexuality for fear that it may make an already tricky separation worse?

For Lucy, her parent’s separation is an open wound as she visits her father in Paris. But for her father, her visit is wrapped in a dilemma, does he tell Lucy he has met a man? As Lucy’s return to London draws near, this decision will ultimately be taken out of his hands in a film that is both a love letter to Paris and a tender coming-of-age drama. The eagle-eyed amongst you will also notice a beautiful homage to the famous 1956 French short, The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge).


FREED ‘Baltringue’ (Director: Josza Anjembe)

Issa is just a few days away from his release from a youth detention centre when he encounters a new inmate, Gaëtan. For months Issa has kept a lid on his sexuality, emotions and anger, spending his time in the carpentry workshop preparing for a career on release. But, Gaëtan seems different from the other inmates; he loves poetry and doesn’t hide his potential interest in Issa. However, with just days to go before freedom, is a boy worth the risk? Or is freedom and safety more important?

Freed beautifully explores the apprehension and fear of first attraction within a hostile and homophobic environment. Here Issa is caught between wanting to trust Gaëtan while fearing the possible trap that may lay before him. Many gay men watching will fully identify with this dilemma; after all, what are Gaëtan intentions? Issa’s final choice tests this very question, with the answer painfully laid out before him just minutes before his release.


VINCENT BEFORE NOON ‘Vincent avant midi’ (Director: Guillaume Mainguet)

Over time, many families find themselves torn apart by disputes, separation, or anger. Meanwhile, for many LGBTQ+ people, separation from family due to homophobia sadly remains far too familiar. But at what point do we try and move on, forgive or heal the pain of the past? For some, this opportunity never comes, but for Vincent, his distant father suddenly and unexpectedly arrives on his doorstep, just as he is packing up his life, ready to move. Taken by surprise, Vincent is unclear on the reasons for his father’s appearance until his father’s reason for reaching out suddenly becomes apparent.

Mainguet’s delicate exploration of family breakdown and past pain never seeks to provide the audience with all the answers. Instead, this is merely an opening that may or may not help the healing process to flourish.


SUNSET CEMETERY ‘Extérieur crépuscule’ (Director: Roman Kané)

We all have a different reaction to grief and loss; for some of us, it may make us question our place in the world. While for others, the pain and sadness are tied to a deep feeling of emptiness as the departed leaves a void in our life.

Still mourning the loss of his brother, Joseph’s sense of grief and loss is embedded in a need to live a life free from the fears surrounding him. But, can he find someone and something meaningful as he tentatively lets go of his sexual doubts and embraces a new world. Here Sunset Cemetery weaves together the stress, freedom and fear of coming out with the urgent need to live free of restraints and celebrate life following a painful loss.


BEAUTY BOYS (Director: Florent Gouëlou)

In a small village in rural France, the stage is set for an evening of performances. The audience, the townsfolk and the performers, the town’s young people. However, as three young people practice a daring drag act, two older boys who are due to perform a rap look on with disdain. On stage is aspiring drag artist Leo, while his big brother and aspiring rapper, Jules, looks on with horror. But as the big night draws near, will Jules allow his brother to get up on stage in drag? Or will he join in with the homophobic comments of his best friend?

Director Florent Gouëlou’s tale of brotherly love, support and internalised homophobia is an utter joy to watch, and without doubt, a highlight of The French Boys: Volume One. Here identity and sexuality merge with themes of community, friendship and family as two worlds collide in an ocean of sequins, rap, glitter and tracksuits.


READ MORE: THE ITALIAN BOYS

The French Boys: Volume Two

Watch now on Amazon, Vimeo and Peccadillo Pod.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


FALLING ‘Tombe’ (Director: Benjamin Vu)

Baptiste is popular with the girls, and the school captain of the rugby team, while Leo keeps to himself as he suffers regular homophobic bullying. The year is 1994, and while both boys may ignore each other in class, they share one thing in common; a french literature assignment due in a few days. The book in question explores themes of responsibility, guilt and choice. But when Leo invites Baptiste over to his house to study, the rugby captain seems almost surprised at the invitation.

When Baptiste arrives at Leo’s home, Leo is busy making a model for his fathers birthday, but as both boys begin to talk, share and discuss their lives, a common ground is soon reached despite their differences, but what secrets lie under the surface? Does Baptiste hide more than a fleeting interest in Leo? Or is he trying to make amends for the actions of his friends just a few nights before?

Benjamin Vu’s stunning and complex short film layers a soft chamber play with unspoken love and care as both boys attempt to navigate emotions that rumble under the surface. Here Baptiste and Leo skirt the questions that simmer beneath the surface of their evening together while equally finding meaning in their encounter. Falling is a reminder of the complexities of adolescent emotions and the need to find belonging in a fog of youth sub-cultures.


THE RETURN ‘Le Retour’ (Director: Yohann Kouam)

Yohann Kouam’s short provides us with an exquisite and powerful exploration of culture, sexuality, family and peer group. When his older brother Theo returns from a year of travelling, fifteen-year-old Willy welcomes his brother back with open arms. However, during the past year, Willy’s life has also changed, his peer group becoming his life. But when Willy witnesses his older brother kissing another man, his love for Theo and dedication to his homophobic friends come into direct conflict.

Kouam’s film delicately unpicks the relationship between family and peer group while focusing on Willy’s internalised anger, frustration and fear. His final devastating act, one of suppressed emotion and confusion, as the powder keg of peer group and family belonging explodes. But, equally, thought-provoking is his older brothers journey, one that ultimately led him to escape to find his sexual freedom.


FOOTING (Director Damien Gault)

Following a difficult break-up with his partner in Paris, Marco has returned home for a weekend with his parents. However, Marco’s relationship with his father, Jean-Claude, has proved difficult ever since he came out and moved to Paris. Therefore, on a cold frosty morning, with his mother’s encouragement, Marco agrees to go on a long 5K run with his dad. But, can the fresh air, countryside and space finally bring a father and son together? Or will the barriers erected between them over many years prove to be impenetrable?

Gault’s beautifully filmed and performed short film layers delicate comedy with unbridled honesty as it explores the unspoken love between a father and son. Here Gault explores how coming out, distance and emotional insecurities can build barriers over time that can be difficult to dismantle once erected. But even more powerful is Footing’s discussion on age, forgiveness and the importance of communication.


THE SWIMMING TRUNKS ‘Le maillot de bain’ (Director: Mathilde Bayle)

At what age did you discover your sexuality? For some, it was during our early teenage years in a blaze of desire. While for others, including me, it was in our childhood that we began to realise that our feelings differed from those around us. Thinking back to when I was nine or ten, these first feelings were confusing, random and wrapped in fear and excitement. For example, I remember loving Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, but unlike the other boys at school, I didn’t want to be him; I wanted to be with him. Equally, I remember seeing The NeverEnding Story at the cinema and obsessing over Noah Hathaway, cutting his picture from magazines and newspapers without knowing why. These early desires were never fully sexual, but they were urgent, perplexed and uncertain.

Mathilde Bayle’s stunning, brave and beautiful short explores these first feelings of attraction and confusion with a rare realism and sensitivity. On a family camping holiday, 10-year-old Remi spends the long summer days avoiding his family in the campsite swimming pool or at the nearby beach. It’s clear Remi feels different to the other kids and distant from his father and mother, but he doesn’t know why. However, when Remi meets a young girl called Lea, his feelings are thrown into a world of confusion. Now at this point, I know what you are thinking; Remi is attracted to Lea. Well, you’re mistaken, for Remi’s new obsession is Lea’s dad, Stephane. However, Remi cannot explain or understand these new feelings and emotions as he steals a pair of Stephane’s swimming trunks.


READ MORE: THE LAST DAYS OF INNOCENCE

JOIN US FOR THE FRENCH BOYS: VOLUME THREE IN JANUARY 2022


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