Sunday, November 14, 2021

NewFest: The Shorts

The Night Train (c) The Night Train

NewFest: The Shorts 
Film Festival: Oct 15-26, 2021 

At NewFest, one of the best ways to see the next generation of LGBTQ+ filmmakers is by taking a chance on the Shorts programming. With curated evenings under banners like “Dyke Drama,” “I Know What Boys Like” and “The Future is Queer,” even if you’re not enjoying one, you know it’s short and the next one’s just around the corner. I didn’t see all the shorts this year, but I saw a fair amount, and here are my 10 favorites in alphabetical order (with special VIP citations given to four of them): 

Aimee Victoria (c) Aimee Victoria

Aimee Victoria 
Director: Chrystee Pharris 
USA, 11 mins 

This is the only pandemic related short I saw this year. The titular girlfriends have to find a way to celebrate their anniversary outside each other’s windows. And the fact that both are deaf makes this romantic movie even more touching. 

Between Us (c) Between Us

Between Us 
Director: Cailleah Scott-Grimes 
Canada, 17 mins  
Kei is a trans man living in rural Japan with his girlfriend. She wants to move to a more urban, accepting city, but Kei finds himself questioning the move when a local woman asks him for help. This is a very quiet film, and the personal journey Kei goes through is delicately explored.   VIP: Hans Bobanovits. His cinematography engulfs you with its rainy-day setting. 

Car Therapy: Uncoupling 
Director: Jennelle Williams 
USA, 7 mins 
A young lesbian couple going through relationship rockiness is in luck when their ride-share driver turns out to be a therapist. The hip dialogue feels authentic, and I liked how the movie resolved itself. 

A Fire That Never Dies 
Director: Chheangkea 
USA, 7 mins 

A young Asian chef is still in grief from the death of his mother when a new neighbor moves in upstairs. The two men bond over their artistic sensibilities (the neighbor’s a dancer) and the chef wonders if this romantic set-up is the work of his dead mother’s spirit. VIP: Nathan Singhapok. His score is beautiful and haunting. 

Love U Cuz (c) Love U Cuz

Love U Cuz 
Director: Eric Pumphrey 
USA, 15 mins 

This animated short is the sort of sassy fun shows like “Q Force” think they are. In a future world where aliens and humans intermingle, Brixton, a party them, decides to take their mopey cousin Kirby for a day at the spa and a night on the town. The vibrant colors and the exciting ways this world is rendered make this short just a fun ole time. 

The Man of My Dreams (c) The Man of My Dreams

The Man of My Dreams 
Director: Tristan Scott-Behrends 
USA, 5 mins 

Two young men are in the throes of new relationship as they traverse the streets of New York City without a care in the world. With no spoken dialogue (just poetic narration), the movie shifts to an unexpected but powerful conclusion about love that surprised me. 

The Night Train 
Director: Jerry Carlsson 
Sweden, 15 mins

Two young men traveling separately on an overnight train start to flirt with each other. This is the most traditional short I saw, with cute boys filled with hormones and not knowing how to deal with their attraction. Nothing new here, but still satisfying in its simplicity. VIP: The orange. The best use of said orange. That’s all I’ll say. 

On My Way 
Director: Sonam Larcin 
Belgium, 22 mins 

A Nigerian man has made it to a rendezvous point in the Belgian countryside in order to cross the border without papers. He hides in the back room of a store and is confronted by the young cashier working that night. Even at the halfway point of one of the longer shorts in the fest, I couldn’t tell if the movie would turn violent or take a humanistic approach. I was very happy where it ultimately ended up. 

Pure (c) Pure

Director: Natalie Jasmine Harris 
USA, 12 mins 
Celeste is a young black girl who is about to come out … to society at her cotillion ball. She is indifferent to this family tradition of introduction and purity until she meets Joy, another girl in her ballroom dance class. This feels like a very personal story and honest in its storytelling. VIP: Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew. As Celeste, Bartholomew’s subtle acting choices are refreshingly real. 

Virgin My Ass (c) Virgin My Ass

Virgin My Ass 
Director: Adar Sigler 
Israel, 17 mins 

Ophir asks his best friend Harel for a very awkward favor that might test their friendship. This one is the funniest short just because of the outrageousness of the favor and the nonchalant way director Sigler handles every moment of it. The title, which is a spoiler, still gives me the giggles.

Please note: NewFest is bringing the 2021 Award Winners BACK for weekly virtual encores through the end of the year! None of my favorites made it into the shorts encore, which means I missed some good shorts.  Info can be found here

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