LGBTQ+ Films - Part I:
And we are back! After a short break, we are finally here to do exactly what we love the most: watch short films and talk about them. This time around, we have brought two incredible and inspiring LGBTQ+ themed short films to discuss. As a gay film lover, I have always looked for queer representation on the screen, but that used to be a hard thing to find in the film industry as a whole. I mean, nowadays LGBTQ+ characters still can be sidelined or the victims of tired tropes, like the infamous “bury your gays”, in which the audience is presented with the death of queer characters, who are viewed as more expendable than their non-queer counterparts. That is just one of the reasons why we decided to dedicate not one, but TWO entire episodes to LGBTQ+ themed short films! And to help me with that, we have CenterFrame co-founder and filmmaker Bernhard Pucher and filmmaker, editor, and director of Brighton’s Film Pride Festival, Deborah Espect!
Before we dive into our selected short films, let’s quickly travel through the history of LGBTQ+ cinema. While in the beginning of the twentieth century, early depictions of queer characters in films could be found, they became less and less common throughout the 1930s, with the spread of censorship laws in Europe and in the United States. The crushing Hays Code banned depictions of homosexuality during almost three decades in Hollywood’s major studios, creating a vacuum that took even longer to be filled. It was only in the 70s and 80s that queer films started finding some space, and with the wave of independent, acclaimed LGBTQ+ themed films in the early 90s, the films were celebrated rather than hidden, creating the New Queer Cinema era. Still, as a teen in the 90s, this kind of representation was not easy to find, as most LGBTQ+ characters in mainstream media were closeted, suffering the consequences of HIV, or only used as comic relief. Fortunately, as we got to a new century of filmmaking, portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters started becoming more diverse and complex, but we still have a long way to go, mainly behind the camera, where we need more queer voices telling their stories.
And to hear one of those voices, we invited Dutch filmmaker Niels Bourgonje, director of the amazing short Buddy. Here we follow two gay men who used to have a relationship as they meet again in a clinic. We see the encounter through the eyes of our protagonist, who agrees to support his ex-lover during an HIV test. What starts out as an awkward reunion, soon becomes something more tender, even if some expectations are not exactly met. It is a very simple premise, yet very effective. The entire situation, which is something gay men are usually familiar with - as regularly testing for HIV and other STIs have become common aspects of our lives, is awkward and tense at the same time, and having a friend - or boyfriend together to support you can be really important. The film uses that interaction in a clever way, focusing on the feelings they might still have for each other, as well as revealing some secrets from their pasts. Niels tells us his inspirations for such an incredible story and explains some of his decisions, such as the use of light and colors, as well as trying to find the best location for the film.
Next we talked to French filmmaker Paul Marques Duarte, director of Valentin, together with Violette Gitton. In the short film we follow the titular character, Valentin, a 19-year-old trans boy, as he moves into his first dorm room in college. There he finds in a shoebox old photos that remind him of his childhood, good and bad memories, and his awakening to his gender identity. While the film, a collage of different scenes that work to tell us a coming of age story, is certainly impressive and technically well done, there was one aspect of it that grasped mine and Deborah’s attention: the positive tone of the story. As LGBTQ+ people, we know how important - and how rare - it is to have our family’s support when coming out, and we fortunately find that in Paul’s short. It is truly a breath of fresh air, mainly for transgender stories, that tend to focus on traumas and not so happy endings for their characters. This is a welcome shift from past trends and can really make a difference for the next generations of trans people trying to see themselves on screen.
And that was it for today, make sure to hit play and take a deeper look at our conversation to find out all the details about these incredible films and their creators. Don’t forget to check out the short films as well, which - besides being outstanding - will make the whole experience make even more sense. You will find helpful lessons and great insights on filmmaking and on the creative process that goes behind producing a short film. And please, if you are a filmmaker and have directed or written any kind of short film, be sure to send it to us and have a chance to feature your work in one of the next episodes of Make It Short. Also, do us a favour: share this message with other writers and directors you may know! Let’s share our love for films and learn in the process!
Film & TV Critic
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You can submit shorts from anywhere. Please make sure English subtitles are available if that's not the original language of your production.
We'll try to feature as many shorts as possible in the upcoming episodes of the show, but please be aware that it might not be possible to do so if we receive an overwhelming number of films.