The Male Gaze: A Better Tomorrow is now available to rent or buy on Prime Video, Vimeo On Demand and Peccadillo Pod.
D: Ream famously sang “Things Can Only Get Better” back in 1993, but at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, many would have disputed their lyrics. As the pandemic lockdowns took their toll on us all, many wondered whether life would ever return to some form of normality as we were denied touch, separated from friends and stopped from seeing our closest family and even our lovers. Themes of separation, lockdown and communication surround each short in NQV’s The Male Gaze: A Better Tomorrow, and while not every short focuses on the pandemic and its effects, every film in this collection is about the importance of human connection and the hope that things can get better given time, togetherness and open communication.
The first film in NQV’s sumptuous collection is Aitor Gametxo’s IF THEY KNEW (Berak Baleki), an intimate study of two lives kept firmly apart and the loneliness that fills the void in the middle. Martin works at a film studio during the day and cruises the parks at night while also attempting to maintain contact with his young son from a previous marriage. Martin’s life is held in a series of impenetrable boxes until he meets a young actor, and the wall between Martin’s work and love life begins to crumble. However, one wall remains firmly in place: his choice to shield his son from his personal life. Gametxo beautifully explores the challenges of a life lived in secret and asks whether Martin can ever truly break down all the walls he has built over time.
Next up is XUTAJ, directed by Jonathan Anzo, a film that directly explores the challenges many gay young people faced as COVID-19 lockdowns left them isolated at home just when they needed the support of friends. In rural Mexico, Xutaj and his boyfriend are separated by the pandemic, just as Xutaj’s dad discovers his son is gay. As Xutaj finds his phone confiscated by a dad struggling to accept his sexuality and his new boyfriend, his mum, a nurse at the local hospital, is forced to leave the family home to protect them from the virus. As Xutaj attempts to navigate the rocky road ahead, he turns to his imagination for escape while his father battles his feelings for his son without the comfort of his wife’s wisdom.
Also, exploring the effects of lockdown on gay men, SEXUAL DISTANCING, directed by Dimitris Asproloupos, explores desire, friendship and the need for sexual connection as COVID-19 stripped away our social lives. Kostas and Andonis spend the endless days of lockdown on video chats, with one desperate for sex while the other explores new hobbies. But as the heat of lockdown rises, friendship morphs into something new, but will Kostas and Andonis embrace their new feelings or remain alone?
Every short film collection has one film that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and in The Male Gaze: A Better Tomorrow, that film is BOOM AND BLOOM (Neuzeit), directed by Stefan Langthaler. In the majestic surroundings of the Austrian Alps, a father and his son embark on an Alpine hike with only conversation for company. However, conversation has never been their strongest skill, and with so much left unsaid over the years, neither feels they know the other. But sometimes, the silence of nature and the stillness of its beauty is all it takes to build new bridges of understanding. Langthaler’s film beautifully explores father/son dynamics and the power of escaping the rat race in creating a new connection.
Finally, AND WE COLLIDE (‘潮汐平行时’), directed by Dongni Lanca Li, explores an emerging connection between two young men from very different sides of the tracks. On the tropical island of Hainan, an aspiring astronaut and a village farmboy oppressed by his gambling father’s cruelty find an unlikely but powerful connection as a rocket sits waiting for its launch into space. Dongni Lanca Li’s beautiful film perfectly encapsulates the fear, uncertainty and joy of the first sparks of a potential romance as both boys tentatively step into each other’s worlds as the sun beats down and the humidity rises on a countdown to something new.
THE MALE GAZE: SHADOWS ON SKIN
Themes of separation, lockdown and communication surround each short in NQV’s The Male Gaze: A Better Tomorrow, and while not every short focuses on the pandemic and its effects, every film in this collection is about the importance of human connection and the hope that things can get better given time, togetherness and open communication.