The short films featured are showing at BFI Flare Southbank and on BFI Player from 16th March to 27th March.
Table of contents
- Stockholm (United Kingdom) Director Tom Wright
- Too Rough (United Kingdom) Director Sean Lionadh
- Successful Thawing of Mr Moro (Sweden) Director Jerry Carlsson
- The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night (Canada) Director Fawzia Mirza
- Hundefreund ‘Dog Friend’ (Germany) Director Maissa Lihedheb
- Borekas (Palastine) Director Saleh Saadi
- Foxglove (Ireland) Director Michael-David McKernan
- Minutes (United Kingdom) Directors Alix Eve and Olivia Dowd
- Sunday (India) Director Arun Fulara
- This is Katherine (Norway) Director Ida H. Eldøen
Stockholm (United Kingdom) Director Tom Wright
Our first gay sexual experiences can be joyous as we finally allow someone we trust to explore our bodies freely. However, for some, their first sexual experience is far from being positive or pleasurable as they are assaulted or lured into uncomfortable and painful sexual experiences. The perpetrators of these sexual assaults often use terminology like “You were ready for it”, “You led me on”, or “We were drunk and didn’t know what we were doing.” For the victim, these experiences leave an indelible mark, a scar that never fully heals as they replay the event repeatedly in their minds.
Many victims of sexual assault turn to alcohol, drugs or casual sex as an escape, but this only further cements the pain held inside until it eventually feels insurmountable. Tom Wright explores how one young man repeatedly replays a single night in his mind as he searches for an escape door from the unresolved PTSD that haunts his every action in his powerful short film.
Too Rough (United Kingdom) Director Sean Lionadh
When we enter a relationship, we give ourselves to another person bit by bit; we don’t rush to tell them everything about ourselves instantly. Instead, we slowly unfurl our life, love, pain and doubts as trust grows. One of the most complex and challenging discussions we often have on this journey is our relationship with family or childhood experiences. But for those who have suffered at the hands of abusive family members, whether sexual, emotional or physical in construct, these discussions are even more challenging and may take years to come out fully.
Following a drunken night out, Nick’s boyfriend is about to discover the secrets at the heart of Nick’s family life – secrets that will change their relationship forever. Director Sean Lionadh’s tension laden exploration of domestic abuse and ongoing trauma is stunning in direction and performance as Nick’s secret life, and pain is suddenly revealed during one harrowing day and night.
Successful Thawing of Mr Moro (Sweden) Director Jerry Carlsson
Love may be eternal, but sadly our bodies are not. In Successful Thawing of Mr Moro, we are asked one pertinent question, what if the love of your life who died forty-three years ago could return from a cryogenic sleep due to scientific advancement? Would you be elated at the prospect of a reunion? Or maybe you would wonder whether the love you once held would ever be the same again. For Milo, these questions swirl around the potential thawing of his long-frozen partner Adrian as he debates whether the frozen in time young man could ever still love the older man he has become. Jerry Carlsson’s delightful snapshot of science fiction storytelling is rooted in discussions on time, ageing and the very nature of eternal love.
The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night (Canada) Director Fawzia Mirza
The family Christmas get together has long been the subject of situation comedy; after all, the festive family reunion can be joyous and excruciating in equal measure. For the Syed family, their annual Christmas Eve games night is a tradition that holds memories full of laughter, cheer and sibling rivalry. But for Noor, this Christmas Eve games night is even more important than those before it, as she introduces the family to Luz, her Puerto Rican girlfriend. Fawzia Mirza’s beautifully realised short couples situation comedy with heartfelt family drama in a short film that never falls into cultural clichés. Here we meet a close-knit Canadian/Pakistani family who opens their home and their heart to Luz, but not before thoroughly checking out she is worthy of Noor’s love.
Hundefreund ‘Dog Friend’ (Germany) Director Maissa Lihedheb
In the wake of the horrendous murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement brought to the fore a range of discussions on race and racism that had remained hidden from view. These discussions led to many challenging encounters and debates as friends, lovers and work colleagues attempted to unpick racism, hate, black experience and white privilege. Hunderfreund (Dog Friend) offers us a beautifully written, directed, and performed snapshot of a conversation about race, racism and social/political equality between two young men on their steamy second date.
Following a night of sex, Malik and Phillip find themselves stuck in each other’s company as their conversation turns to themes of race, identity and discrimination. Director Maissa Lihedheb beautifully and powerfully explores the exhausting nature of having to justify your race, place and belonging in a world built on colonial history. But Lihedheb also carefully examines and unpicks German history, including the shadow of World War Two that continues to impact Germany’s younger generations.
Borekas (Palastine) Director Saleh Saadi
The relationship between a father and son can often become complicated when a son comes out. Often the barrier of open conversation around relationships, feelings and emotions faces a further wall of silence due to a son’s same-sex attraction. However, these walls are rarely permanent in construction, and sometimes all it takes is time and patience to break down each brick. In Salah Sadadi’s sun-drenched short film, a Palestinian father and son finally begin to chip away at the wall dividing them as they find themselves stranded on the way to the airport with just a bag of borekas and croissants to munch on. But as they slowly open up, they realise that the wall between them may not be as high as they initially thought.
Foxglove (Ireland) Director Michael-David McKernan
The sudden death of a family member often leads to a lasting and damaging impact on family communication. But this damage is only further increased through a lack of emotional openness as family members close down due to unbearable and unresolved grief. For Siobhán, her return home to Ireland due to her father’s failing health holds painful memories of the family breakdown following her mother’s death. But as her dad faces his own mortality, healing comes through dialogue and conversation as they both face the grief they have held inside for too long. Michael-David McKernon’s delicate and visually stunning short film is laced with silent moments of contemplation as healing tentatively emerges from the darkness of grief.
Minutes (United Kingdom) Directors Alix Eve and Olivia Dowd
Imagine if you could watch the lifespan of a relationship unfold in just fourteen minutes. In their outstanding improvised short, that’s precisely what Alix Eve and Olivia Dowd offer us as we watch two young women meet, love, laugh and bond before eventually parting ways. Here we see a relationship tentatively bloom before slowly eroding and transforming into something new. Eve and Dowd capture the beauty of human connections and the difficulty of achieving longevity in a way few short films have managed. The stunning central performances are rooted in realism as they focus on the everyday discussions of two young women attempting to build an everlasting love. And while it may not lead to the permanence they both seek, their break up isn’t the end, but just the beginning of a new chapter.
Sunday (India) Director Arun Fulara
Kamble attends his local barbershop every Sunday without fail for a shave and a trim, but for Kamble, this ritual is not rooted in his desire for the perfect moustache and haircut. As he walks into the barbershop, Kamble enters a different world where the young barber is the centre of his secret universe. He watches the young man with a deep-seated love, just waiting for his turn to have his face and hair touched by an angel who will never know the desire he keeps hidden away. It would be easy to label Arun Faulara’s beautiful short film as a simple exploration of secret passion and forbidden love, but it’s so much more. Here Kamble’s weekly routine is an escape from life and a conversation on age and imagination in creating a new and free internal world.
This is Katherine (Norway) Director Ida H. Eldøen
Whether we are male, female, trans or non-binary, the journey toward happiness in our own skin is complicated. Throughout our youth, we are bombarded with stereotypes and clichés through film, tv and media of what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or trans, and sometimes no representation seems to fit the skin we wear. For Katherine, the process of self-actualisation and happiness has been blocked by a feeling of not fitting in with the imagery and stereotypes of lesbian life.
To add to this, Katherine also suffers from anxiety and self-doubt in her ability to ever meet that special woman who could bring her happiness. Using colourful animation and a Desperate Housewives inspired voice-over, Director Ida H. Eldøen’s rich conversation on media representation, community stereotypes, and confidence may explore life through a female lens, but it’s rooted in universality. Here Katherine’s story isn’t just the story of a woman finding her place in the world, its the story of us all.