Despite the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic preventing the 2020 BFI Flare Film Festival from running, the British Film Institute have made a collection of LGBTIQ+ films available online from March 20th-29th. A wide variety of features and shorts – categorized under the themes Hearts, Bodies or Minds – will be accessible in celebration of queer cinema. With a number of these films being shorts, compiled below are a handful of short film reviews in preparation for the festivals online exhibition tomorrow.
A Battle in Waterloo (dir. Emma Moffat, 2019)
A punchy period piece taught with emotion, A Battle in Waterloo pays tribute to the many “genders, races and sexualities” that have fought for their countries without recognition. Emma Moffat directs an empowering addition to feminist cinema, focusing on the relationship between Ellen (Jessie Buckley) and her ‘husband’ who has been injured at The Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
May-35 (dir. Tina Takemoto, 2019)
Three minutes may not be long, but it’s more than enough time for Tina Takemoto to unsettle viewers in an eerie memorial to the Tiananmen Square uprisings. The 1989 protest in Beijing cost many people their lives (the exact number being hotly debated), which Takemoto commemorates through hazy images of faces that are, most likely, no longer with us. The haunting style of May-35 leaves an imprint on your mind, reminding us of the students who risked their lives in the name of democracy.
Crypsis (dir. Christopher McGill, 2019)
Christopher McGill’s politically-charged short tells the story of a gay asylum seeker having to prove his sexuality to the authorities. Short but sweet, the nine-minute drama acts as a protest against intrusive, prejudicial government policies that force people into dangerous and traumatic experiences. Homosexuality and a refugee status both work against our protagonist, despite his efforts, as they unfortunately do for many seeking asylum in real life.
Broth of Vigour (dir. Daniel Mcintyre, 2020)
A “tonic for the body and mind”, Broth of Vigour is a fascinating experimental short teeming with energy. Cut together from a variety of cooking, gym and science shows, Daniel Mcintyre’s contribution to the Minds category of the festival inventively explores a range of unique and intriguing editing techniques to express the erotic ‘broth’ that is sexuality.
Dungarees (dir. Abel Rubinstein, 2020)
Refreshingly funny and extremely relevant, Dungarees listens in on the life of Blake and Cane – both coming to terms with their gender and sexual identities. Director Abel Rubinstein highlights the less-talked about issues surrounding gender transitions – specifically on the struggle of femininity as a trans male. Dungarees achieves a good balance between light-hearted humour and more weighty allegories, leaving viewers in a positive mindset.
Dirty (dir. Matthew Puccini, 2018)
Director Mathew Puccini sets out to deliver a heartfelt yet realistic depiction of sex that is often over-glamorised in mainstream cinema. Dirty is a tenderly honest snapshot into the lives of two teenage boys, skipping class to have sex for the first time. Puccini presents the embarrassing, taboo aspects of sexuality in a sensitive and understanding way, demonstrating how compassion is the key to a loving relationship.
The Sea Runs Thru My Veins (dir. Zara Zandieh, 2018)
A gorgeously moving and creative piece of German experimental cinema is brought to life by Zara Zandieh. The Sea Runs Thru My Veins captures the preciousness of life through old film aesthetics and a narration sewed together by various queer migrants, meditating on the idea of ‘happiness’. Poignant and creatively put together, this arthouse short forces viewers to reflect on their own outlook and consider a more appreciative approach to life.