Film Review: VOWS, (4min., USA, LGBT/Animation) 

A wordless wonder of a film, VOWS tells the simple, yet powerful story of a man on his wedding day. On what should be one of the happiest days of his life, our hero is hit with difficult feelings of abandonment that come when he sees an important wedding invitation has been returned- rejected. But love always wins.
A beautiful animated film with engaging colours and textures worthy of any Disney-Pixar, this film has something special hidden within it- in its credits. The film is only a few beats long, but within the credits we the highlights of our hero’s life well lived.
For a film so short, it is a mastery of simple touching story telling. And it is worth sitting through every credit to see the joy that unfolds in the final frames. A delightful and moving piece. Well done VOWS, well done.

 

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

VOWS, 4min., USA, LGBT/Animation 
Directed by Mark McKinseyVows is the story of a man on one of the biggest days of his life – he is incredibly excited, but is suddenly reminded of a deep sadness that plagues this very happy day with the person he loves most.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: YOURS FAITHFULLY EDNA WELTHORPE (MRS), (UK, Animation/Comedy)

A New film by Chris Shepherd, YOURS FAITHFULLY EDNA WELTHROPE is an animated comic short tribute piece to Joe Orton, a well known letter writer who complained to local companies under the pen name Edna Welthorpe.

 

Charming to listen to, and delightful to watch, this animation is full of humorous visuals, delightful images and the hilarious voice of Orton. Created to celebrate his life, 50 years after it ended, YOUR FAITHFULLY EDNA WELTHORPE is a joyful and engaging piece.

 

The magic in this film is that in only five minutes, we feel we know Edna, and know her well. Her voice, so aptly akin to the “fussy old lady” is perfectly characterised by exceptional voice acting. Of course the deeper comic layer here being that Edna does not exist, and these companies she is writing to are often perplexed at her letters. Regardless YOURS FAITHFULLY EDNA WELTHORPE is a hilarious and enjoyable film to watch.

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

YOURS FAITHFULLY EDNA WELTHORPE (MRS), UK, Animation/Comedy
Directed by Chris ShepherdJoe Orton would write letters of complaint using the pseudonym of Edna Welthorpe. Using this persona Orton would wind up companies, vicars and even ridicule his own plays.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: MATTHEW, (USA, LGBT/Family)

Moving and profound, MATTHEW, directed by Luke Willis is a striking film about a young boy (Matthew) who is in the process of discovering his own sexual identity when he must face the social sets backs of his disillusioned Grandfather. While going out with his friend Maya, a “hangout” his grandfather wrongly assumes is a “Date”, his grandfather decides to watch and see the developments. The grandfather ends up taking issue with his grandson- not because he refuses to kiss his friend Maya, but because Maya is black.

 

What is so compelling about this piece is that the character of the grandfather is blind to his grandson’s true orientation- all his can see is the issue he feels is right in front of his face- that his grandson is associating with people of a different race. But there is something incredibly wonderful in this story as well. The grandfather represents a time that is running out. His fears, his xenophobia and his hostility are unfounded and doomed to be short lived. Our hero Matthew and his friend Maya are the future- and they are at peace, both with their friendship and with who they are.

 

The layers of development that turn us from children into adults are rich and complex. They include layers of self discovery, layers of awkwardness, layers of history. And we emerge on the other side as the people we all grow to be. These layers are built in a series of fundamental moments that shape us in our formative and vulnerable years. MATTHEW is a film that takes a close and personal look at one such moment in a young boy’s life as he takes a step away from where his family comes from, and steps into a brighter and happier future.

 

A stunning film boasting beautiful cinematography and fantastic casting, MATTHEW is a film not to miss.

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

MATTHEW, 6min., USA, LGBT/Family
Directed by Luke WillisA teenage boy is figuring out his own sexual identity when his grandfather drives him to hang out with a girl.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: CHRICKE, (Sweden, LGBT/Experimental)

Just shy of seven minutes, CHRICKE packs a huge amount of information into itself. Waking up in a completely white world our hero, Chricke, operates in a blank void- the walls are white, the phone is white, the food is white, he is painted white. And he paints his things white as well. His world is bright- but colorless. The phone call from his father who rambled drunkeningly off the hook expresses nothing but familial disappointment for his son’s life choices. All the way Chricke paints himself white. Until, that is- he sees a light shining through a small way out. Unlike his current world this light is full of colour. As Chricke’s father drones on and on with what we realize is a final goodbye and disownment, Chricke finds a way out of tiny white world.

The obvious visual metaphor is striking and simple. The performance of our main character conveys everything needed with his body language. The piece does what every short film should strive to do- convey a feeling in a short, profoundly effective way. CHRICKLE does this. And the feeling at the end of the film is one of freedom- a fresh start awaits  our hero outside of the blank walls of montonecy and normalcy. Chrickle is free.

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

CHRICKLE, 7min., Sweden, LGBT/Experimental
Directed by Christian ArnoldA young man wakes up to a monotonus and isololated life in a colourless prison. Relucantly, he does everything in his power to suit his oppressive father. Until it knocks on the door.CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: BOY (USA, LGBT/Drama)

Powerfully shot and emotionally charged despite it’s minimalist script, BOY centers around a businessman who takes an interest in a young street kid. Taking him back to his apartment, he offers the boy kindness- tending to his recent injury and offering him a beer. Yet there is something sinister going on underneath the surface that is at first hard to read- until the moment when the tension in the room turns sexual and the two have a dramatic sexual encounter.

A film that unnerves and unhinges you, and leaves the viewer with a sick sense of breathlessness, BOY must be praised. For such a strong reaction to be felt in the audience is only a testament to the incredible portal by the well-casted performers and the tight, intimate sense of space created by the cinematographic style. BOY is a film that takes you into a disturbing and confusing world and breaks your heart in the process. We see, in only a few short minutes, the breaking of the innocence of our youthful character and the brokenness that is our adult character.

BOY is a stunning and gripping film, full of things to say about who we are, why we do the things we do, and who we do them with. It is a piece that makes us to look at a dramatic moment in the lives of two people and ask ourselves who they might be afterward. A compelling film indeed.

Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

BOY, 9min., USA, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Declan Quinlan

A businessman is pushed to evaluate himself after a young runaway leads him into unfamiliar territory.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: THE FRUIT MACHINE (Canada, LGBT/Drama)

Review by Kierston Drier

Based on true historical events that played out during the cold war in Canada, FRUIT MACHINE, directed by Omer Khan and written by Tavish Gudgeon, is a strong and compelling piece about social mores, and the epic divide between our love for our country, and our love for each other. Against the backdrop of war and the social stigma of homosexaulity, our hero, Marleau  is forced to submit to a bizarre and brutal test called “The Fruit Machine” but it forces him to recount the warm, and also painful memories of his relationship with Sam- who enlisted before him.

 

And although Marleau doesn’t want him to go, Sam is committed to serve his country. But when Sam returns to find Marleau in the arms of a woman their relationship and communication comes to an abrupt stop. Marleau is tormented by the one-who-got-away, and whatever happened to him.

 

For a film so short, it captures with strikingly articulate pain the sense of tragedy and pride in the hearts of young men going to war. But underneath that age-old story is something even more emotionally compelling- the love between two people who must hide their feelings for each other and when they are ripped apart, they are not even given the courtesy to mourn the loss of that love- as it is forbidden. Beautifully shot, exceptionally well casted and compellingly written and performed, THE FRUIT MACHINE is an engaging and dramatic performance. A brilliant retelling of a disturbing part of Canadian history, but story worth hearing at all costs.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

THE FRUIT MACHINE, 16min., Canada, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Omer KhanDuring the 1950’s and 60’s, at the height of the Cold War, the Canadian government was doing everything it could to gain an advantage. Major shifts were happening within the RCMP, military, and civil services. A device was introduced to test the stress levels of workers by measuring pupillary response to certain images. This device was called: The Fruit Machine.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: MASC ONLY (USA) LGBT, Comedy

Played at the June 2017 LGBT Toronto Film Festival

Directed by Drew Droege

Gay best friends, Tommy and Wesley, unwittingly venture to an intimidating party hosted by the gay elite. 

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Review by Kierston Drier

This racus American Comic short is a delight to the senses. Tommy is a young gay man living in New York and frustrated with his life. Why? Because he lives in the classic cliche of his community. His friends, even his best friend Wesley, are vain, superficial, sassy and larger-than-life. Acquaintances and potential lovers distill him down to a walking stereotype and it’s getting on his nerves.

Yet when Wesley invites Tommy to a party hosted by upper class gay elite, Wesley goes- looking for love, lust, a good time? He’s not sure, but something fun has to happen, right?

What is brilliant about MASC ONLY is that our character it butting against the bubble he’s been put in, while still having to actively engage in it. And this deeper social commentary is hidden within the piece, covered over by layers and layers of raucous, laugh-a-minute comedy. The piece has no bad lines, no dead air and no dull moments. It escalates higher and higher with physical and visual comedy, while still sparkling with wit. The performances are fantastic! You will laugh at every turn, but you will leave the theatre thinking.

This piece looks like a comedy and acts like a comedy, but within it beats the heart of deep social satire. A worthy watch indeed. To director Drew Droege, well done.

 

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Movie Review: HOW TO BE ALONE (Israel), LGBT, Drama

Played at the June 2017 LGBT Toronto Film Festival

Directed by Erez Eisenstein

Relying on “How To Be Alone” – a self-improvement audio book – a heartbroken woman, struggling with her lonesome existence, decides to embrace solitude and to learn how to survive without love. 

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Review by Kierston Drier

 HOW TO BE ALONE is a pensive film. Coming to us from Israel from director Erez Eisentein, this is a piece that makes you question introversion and healing from a broken heart. Our heroine, a newly single woman gets a self-help audio book about solitude, and following its’ advice, beings to live a life alone.

Regardless of the stoic, yet occasionally humorous advice the audio-book gives her, our protagonist can not seem to shake the image of her lover from her mind. Can her life be lead to it’s fullest without love in it? Will this book with it’s lonely advice deliver her to happiness and self-sufficiency, or will it drive her crazy?

This piece is a thinking piece. It takes us in, and engulfs us in our hero’s world so completely, that by the emotionally packed final scenes we are left to wonder if the book is real, or if it is all in her head.

A testament to good filmmaking, by the end of this film, we watch our hero take a plunge to get her lover back, and we are filled with the overwhelming urge to tell her to stop. Only a well crafted film could make a viewer feel so strongly for the hero’s well being.

Eisenstein has done an excellent job on examining love and human relationships through the lenses of solitude, while crafting emotion with a character that rarely speaks in the film. Silence and space are characters as much as our hero and her lover are. An introspective and poignant cinematic short.

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Movie Review: WAJOOD (SELFHOOD) (India) LGBT, Drama/Romance

Played at the June 2017 LGBT Toronto Film Festival

Directed by Vishal Srivastava

Revolves around a young hijra’s (trans-woman) life, who seems to fancy herself with an auto-rickshaw driver. When confronted by the elders of her community about her unrealistic expectations, she goes on a quest to know if somebody will ever fall in love with her or is this thought as naive as told by everyone around her? 

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Review by Kierston Drier

WAJOOD, or Selfhood, is a powerful short coming to us from Indian by director Vishal Srivastava. Bright with colors and boasting gorgeous cinematography, this piece sheds light on a little known part of Indian culture. The Hijra, known as the Third Gender, are a community of transwomen who are often misunderstood and shunned in society.

Yet WAJOOD takes a look at this section of society kind, compassionate and sensitive eyes. We follow our heroine through her emotional journey of dissecting her sense of self. She pines for the attractive rickshaw driver near her community, and wakes every morning to watch him. But her community members remind her that there is no future for people like herself. Her fate has been determined- she is not to be understood, and not to find conventional love. Her life, will be a lonely one. Yet a kind stranger will change her mind about what it means to be who she is.

What make WAJOOD special is it’s bravery. It tackles a topic worthy of discussion, about a group deserving of attention. More than that, it stands before adversity and shouts for recognition. But it will charm you as it does so. It will charm you with its stunning images, it’s entrancing music and it’s’ undeniably lovable and sympathetic main character.

If you watch WAJOOD, you may not identify with my main character right away, but you will love her. WAJOOD reminds us that we are far more similar that we are different.

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Movie Review: SHAPING SCARS (UK) LGBT, Dance

Played at the June 2017 LGBT Toronto Film Festival

Directed by Zsolti Szabo

A dance journey about two girls who once loved each other, but while one is able to embrace herself openly (and therefore their relationship), the other is struggling to step into the light and shake off her demons.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Review by Kierston Drier

This 7 minute UK experimental Dance piece is a gorgeous intimate dance piece set to a riveting and sparkling slam poem. Director Zsolti Szabo must be commended on the vision behind the work, for not only is a stunning visual dance performance, but film captures its intricacies and puts the performers talents under a microscope.

Two dancer go through the motions (both symbolically and literally) of a relationship gone wrong. Beautifully choreographed and light, a special nod must be given to the performers who engage in the incredibly intricate dance and the spoken word artist who performs the piece.

What sets this piece apart from the usual, is the camera work! The shots in this piece give the feeling that you are standing right beside the dancers. Turely, as much choreography was needed for the camera person as for the dancers themselves. If the film is the eye through which we see this art, then SHAPING SCARS invites you to join the dance.

The film itself has a deeper symbolic meaning as well. Our dancers are partners, but their love is not meant to be. Perhaps what is so touching about this piece is that underneath the vibrant poetics and stunning visuals is a message: that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. A film worth seeing, if for nothing else than that.

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