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An unmissable collection
on 18 August 2009
Like its predecessor in the series, this is a truly excellent collection of nine short films, with the added benefit that more care has been taken this time to ensure an international flavour, including films from Sweden, France, Germany, Mexico and Australia. It's unusual for short film compilations to maintain a consistently high standard throughout, typically having several 'fillers' thrown in; here, however, almost without exception, the films are superb (and several sport a welcome dark or supernatural twist). They comprise:-
*The Island (Canada, 6 min): A mix of narrative and animation as a film-maker imagines a 'homotopia' in response to homophobia - putting all homophiles together on an island. A provocative, original formulation that combines outspoken humour with a dose of bitter poignancy.
*Cowboy (Germany, 35 min): An urbanite estate agent in his 30s visits a decrepit farm in the countryside, hoping to purchase the land. He meets a quarrelsome yet buff, young farmhand, generating an escalating and tense eroticism. An atmospheric film that ascends into horror, with a genuinely startling denouement. Outstanding.
*Kali Ma (US, 16 min): A 'teenage' male of Indian origin is regularly bullied by the most popular guy at school. After he comes home crying following one particularly rough beating, his mother decides to visit the popular guy's home and exact her revenge. An excellent juxtaposition of black comedy and pathos, and a most original take on an otherwise common theme.
*Lucky Blue (Sweden, 28 min): 18-year-old Kevin is taken to a caravan site by his aunt for a summer vacation, where he meets Olle, a young handyman working at the park. Whereas Olle is quiet and painfully shy, Kevin seems brash and disdainful. A drunken midnight kiss, which Kevin denies in the morning, leaves Olle confused and hurt. A sweet and tender tale - a brief respite from this generally dark collection.
*Love Bite (Australia, 2 mins): Two teenagers smoke pot after school; one of them is desperate to confess a hunger that he is no longer able to hide from his friend. Entertaining and fun, if all-too brief.
*Bramadero (Mexico, 22 min): An abandoned construction site high above the bustle of Mexico City provides a location for two young men to perform a silent, prolonged mating ritual. A wordless and explicit, passional and violent, posthuman and sensual, communion between bodies.
*Weekend in the Countryside (France, 16 min): Two good friends, Marc and Pierre, take a trip to visit Marc's father at his sprawling countryside villa. Sunshine fades as Pierre rejects Marc's advances towards him - but will Marc face unexpected consequences? Another excellent, tense short with an intensely dark undercurrent.
*Working it Out (Australia, 6 min): An apparently assimilated, monogamous homophile couple spend their 45 minute gym session arguing about a 'stranger' who smiled at one of them in the changing rooms. A humorous film, if a somewhat tired theme.
*Futures (and derivatives) (USA, 18 min): A bumbling US law firm has an important client due at 8am, so they hire a temp to work all night producing a presentation. The next morning: the client arrives, the presentation is set up - and things take a mystical turn... An aesthetically strong, yet somewhat bizarre finish to this collection.
Overall, a fantastic compilation, with eclectic originality and a strand of sci-fi / fantasy (which seems to be an emergent trend). A collection that will easily bear multiple viewings. Highly recommended for all.