Once again the good folk at Peccadillo Pictures proudly present another diverse collection of gay short films from across the globe,
in which the allure of a risky attraction yields emotional results, proving that the age-old adage
of taking the plunge is as relevant and sexy, as ever before.

›› Overall Duration - 159 mins | DVD Release Date - 24th July, 2023 ‹‹

›› posted: 6th October, 2023 ‹‹

›› My Uncle's Friend - O Amigo do Meu Tio ‹‹

a short film by Renato Turnes.

2021 | 9 mins | Brazil.

a video styled portrait of a teenager's burgeoning sexuality.

Dave says:

Simple, yet equally telling, this short film from co-writer and director Renato Turnes is but a video styled portrait of a teenager's burgeoning sexuality.

For this is the story of Vicente who as his namesake, is forever captured on video as a teenager, courtesy of his father's present to himself in the form of a camcorder on Christmas Day 1987. Shooting footage of everything he loves; from his family to his hobbies, a retrospective narrative from an older Vicente highlights the events filmed that in hindsight were but clear signs of Vicente's emerging sexuality. From his lack of interest in playing football, to being bored at an 'Evel Knievel' stunt car race, this is but a gay man in the making, being more interested in spending time with his uncle's group of macho friends and in particular the cutie that is Chulé; namely his first crush.

Yet such affection is a two-edged sword that finds Vicente eavesdropping on adult conversations that depict the grave reality of the times that were. All of which makes for a nicely told story that in a sweet 'n' tender way wonderfully showcases a teenager fully aware of his true sexuality, yet all too conscious of being careful not to show it, given the homophobic mindset of the period. Only and as delightful as this short film is, it feels like a cinematic starter, in that it wets the appetite for something more substantial to follow.

Gay Visibility - covert | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 2+ stars

›› Budapest, Closed City - Budapest, Zárt Város ‹‹

a short film by Máté Konkol.

2021 | 13 mins | Hungary.

falling in love with your straight best friend.

Dave says:

There's a lush, energetic feel to this short film from writer and director Máté Konkol, even if it walks on a more than familiar cinematic path.

It tells the story of Péter (Péter Katona); a Hungarian teenager who's taking his British friend Adam (Adam Wadsworth) on a whistle-stop tour of Budapest, complete with his personal and political commentary on the highs and the lows of the city he calls home. Finishing in an underground club, the two drink and dance the night away, before heading out in the early hours of the morning for some fresh air and in Adam's case the opportunity to kiss the object of his affection. Only does Péter feel the same way about Adam, as Adam does about him?

Complete with a vibrant score and some neat screen graphics, here Konkol has crafted a work that beautifully encapsulates the feelings of friendship and love, as Péter romantically tells Adam that it would be nice to be thinking about somebody, when you hear a love song. Only it's apparent from the onset that Adam has already found 'the one' he desires, with Wadsworth's facial expressions and telling eye movements wonderfully showcasing the inner longing of a man who's clearly fallen in love with his straight best friend.

To that end Katona excels in the role of a young man who loves to dance, as much as he yearns to leave the city he's now grown tired of. Well-played throughout, it remains the on-screen chemistry between the boys that makes this work punch well above its cinematic weight, even if the close-of-play is somewhat unresolved, given it would have been nice to know just what the future holds for these two young men?

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› Eden ‹‹

a short film by Sven Spur.

2020 | 17 mins | Belgium.

a gritty portrait of carnal desire.

Dave says:

With the sounds of sex replacing dialogue, here the camera following the life of Wolf (Mustaf Ahmeti); a restless young man ever on the lookout for sex, whether it be out cruising in his local park or downtown at a gay sauna, where mirrors and kitschy decor form the backdrop to acts of man-sex. Getting it on with cutie Benny (Vincent van Driessche), or for that matter anyone who can satisfy his incessant lust for sexual intimacy, the question beckons if in Benny, Wolf has found more than just a casual encounter in the night?

For that's the issue at the heart of this short film, given Wolf is clearly searching for someone or something, other than sex. Only it's sex that dominates this work and whilst frank, it's far from explicit when compared to other titles I could mention; Travis Mathews' I Want Your Love included.

Yet at the end of the day, this is a work that's more about sex, than plot, given at no point does any character utter a single word. To the credit of cast and crew however, every thought and desire is crystal clear, in what amounts to a gritty portrait of carnal desire from writer and director Sven Spur. Yet and for all of the sex to be had; frankly, I was bored.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - sexually frank | Overall - file under ... 2 stars

›› Chaperone ‹‹

a short film by Sam Max.

2022 | 16 mins | US.

an unnerving tale from the dark side of life.

Dave says:

Both unsettling and yet equally mysterious is this short film from writer and director Sam Max.

It tells the story of an unnamed figure; aka the chaperone (Zachary Quinto) of the title who picks up a young man played by Russell Kahn in his car. Only before you can utter the words "rent boy," it's apparent that this is not the usual scenario that gay cinema has a-liking for, given Kahn is cast as 'the client' of the piece, having already paid the older man for services about to be rendered. Making sure that his client has disposed of all means of personal identity, including deleting every file that would reveal the nature of their business, the chaperone leaves the city to drive his client to an austere rental house in the remote countryside, its split-level design highlighting sofas covered in plastic sheets and a bathroom drawer full of weed. Helping himself to the free samples, before asking the chaperone for sex; dildo fashion, something just isn't right - but what?

In short, this is one of those works in which you know that for at least one of the characters, it's not going to end well. No surprise really, given Max has filled his work with enough alarm bells to more than signal something is wrong from the onset and yet knowing that, we witness a young man all too willing to get into a car with a man he's never meet before, but who he's hired for a specific reason. To that end Quinto of Heroes, Star Trek and The Boys in the Band / 2020 fame and one of the few openly gay Hollywood big names, is and as expected on fine form throughout. Dressed in black from head to toe and forever wearing gloves; albeit until his work is done, his character is sinister to the core, speaking his lines in a quiet tone, his dialogue is as troubling as the act that he's engaged in.

Yet his performance is matched by Kahn, whose character and unlike the viewer is all too aware of what's going on. Yet here you never get to know the motive behind the young man opting for such a drastic course of action and whilst this could be viewed as a cop out, it certainly leaves you wondering about the narrative long after the end credits have rolled. Suffice to say that this is one of those gay shorts that's different from anything you've seen before and believe me in terms of gay cinema, that's something of a rarity. Highly refreshingly for being so, the result makes for an unnerving tale from the dark side of life and whilst well-played and executed throughout, it's nonetheless far from easy viewing.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› Break Me - Knus Meg ‹‹

a short film by Irasj Asanti.

2018 | 15 mins | Norway.

a hard-hitting testament to a broken heart.

Dave says:

From co-star, co-writer and director Irasj Asanti comes this highly accomplished depiction of the two-edged sword that for all too many, is being gay and Muslim.

For Mansour (Ravdeep Singh Bajwa), a Kurdish closeted immigrant living in Norway, has a lot to hide, his hetero appearance to the outside world something of a necessity, not only on account of the strict religious doctrine of his family, but equally by way of his promising career as a cage fighter. Beginning in the squared circle with Mansour beating the hell out of his opponent, we soon see him partying the night away, his arms wrapped around a local girl, only for his eyes to fall upon his boyfriend Andreas (Fredrik Skogsrud) who's well aware of the mask that Mansour wears. Only also aware of Mansour's true sexuality is now his father (Asanti); namely a man who will do everything in his power to put an end to his son's relationship with Andreas, with an arranged marriage, if not a one-way ticket to his homeland, as certain as night follows day. All but boxed into a corner, will Mansour be able to find a way out to be with the man he loves, or will this be a fight that he's destined to lose?

With a spoiler warning firmly in place, here Asanti has crafted a captivating work that achingly depicts what it means to be gay and Muslim in today's society and in particular in a deeply religious patriarchal household where to be out 'n' proud would bring dishonour to the family name. Yet as relevant as the narrative is, it's Ravdeep Singh Bajwa's compelling performance that delivers the films' knockout punch; his telling eye movements ever directing you to the object of his affection and yet in just a few scenes down the line, filled with tears on the realization that the man he loves and who loves him deeply in turn, is a relationship that can never be.

The result is a hard-hitting testament to a broken heart, given the somber fact that what is shown on screen is a bitter reality for all too many gay men and women to this day. That Asanti does not shy away from depicting the mindset of many who contemplate self-harm, if not suicide itself as seemingly the sole means of escape from the situation they find themselves in, is to his credit. All of which makes for a short film that whilst ultimately quite sad, is it has to be said, beautifully played from start to finish. Deeply poignant; goes without saying.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› By His Will - She'asani Kirtzono ‹‹

a short film by Uriel Torten.

2021 | 16 mins | Israel.

a vivid study of a young man torn between his homosexuality and Jewish faith.

Dave says:

Illustrating how the two-edged sword of religion v homosexuality comes in many forms and faiths, here writer and director Uriel Torten paints a vivid study of a young man torn between his homosexuality and his Jewish faith.

For Elisha (Ido Tako) is that teenager, only to be more interested in partying than Judaism, a fact that hasn't been lost on the school Rabbi (William Selzer); nor his parents for that matter and in particular his father (Eyal Boers). No surprise really, given his eyes have already strayed from his text books to fellow pupil Daniel (Nir Magen); a teen who like Elisha is desperately trying to find a way to reconcile his faith, with his sexuality. Only when Elisha gets more than up close and personal with out 'n' proud party boy Idan (Itay Koren), has the time come for him to choose whether to be open with his sexuality, or to forever remain in the sexual closet of life?

Whilst comparisons with Irasj Asanti's Break Me are all but obvious, given both works showcase a young man caught between religious and secular worlds, this short notably attacks the narrative from a different direction. Intercutting his story between past and present time frames, here we find Torten and in marked contrast to the father seen just a few minutes earlier in this collection, instead go out of his way to show the outstretched hand of human compassion. To that end, Boers nicely plays the part of a father who's solely interested in his son's well-being, leaving star of the show Tako to shine in wonderfully expressing the mixed emotions of a teenager who questions his faith and sexuality, when set against the prejudice of non-accepting religious minds.

Only and for all of the shorts' positives, of which there are many, this work and whilst well-played throughout, nonetheless lacks the power of Asanti's hard-hitting testament to the fact that faith and homosexuality is for many, a difficult tightrope to walk. Given that, some will no doubt question if such an orthodox yarmulke wearing household would be as accepting as this, to their son's sexual openness? Then again and to Torten's credit, the underlining theme here is one of support and acceptance and in this age of continued homophobia from those who preach the word of God, but lack any of his unconditional love in return, that's a message than cannot be said loud enough.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› Red Ants Bite ‹‹

a short film by Elene Naveriani.

2019 | 23 mins | Georgia.

a moving testament to love in the face of entrenched bigotry.

Dave says:

From co-writer and director Elene Naveriani comes this moving testament to love in the face of entrenched bigotry.

For Afame (Donald Acho Nwokorie) and Obinna (George Imo Obasi) are two Nigerian men who find themselves in the capital of Georgia. No surprise really, given in Tbilisi loving father Afame can be with both his daughter and his estranged wife Ana (Magda Lebanidze). Only between child-minding duties that see the two men take Afame's daughter for a day out at a nearby zoo, the two can be found alone together by the sea or playing video games; football fashion. Only are they just close friends, or perhaps something far more meaningful to each other?

It's a question that dominates the narrative, with joint writers and stars of the show Nwokorie and Obasi wonderfully playing the role of best friends and perhaps something more, as telling eye movements and facial expressions achingly create a vibrant sense of sexual tension between them, even if nothing remotely overt, not even a kiss, is shown. That said, you know where the story is heading, with Naveriani having gone out of her way to take it slow before delivering the key scene that's set to confirm what we all suspected from the onset. Yet therein lies the short's sting in its tale, with the love and affection shown having been dramatically cut short upon the arrival home of Ana; namely a woman who preaches from the pulpit of moral virtue, whilst earning a living working in a massage parlour - of sorts?

Nicely played throughout, above all this is a work ingrained with the reality of both sexual and racial prejudice. That this is shown in the poignant close-of-play is not really a spoiler; rather a sad reflection of the negative attitudes towards homosexuality that remain the dominant view in Georgia and their constitution itself to this day, with same-sex sex legal; gay marriage not. Need more be said?

Gay Visibility - covert | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› Jim ‹‹

a short film by Tom Young.

2021 | 15 mins | UK.

the inspiration story of The Diana of Earl's Court.

Dave says:

Set in West London in 1982 comes this poignant work from writer and director Tom Young that vividly highlights the dangers of selling yourself on the streets to strangers.

For this is the story of 41-year-old Father Jim Fitzsimmons (Gary Fannin); a parish priest who for one night only is finally letting his gay side run free, in his desire for man-sex. Nervously selecting a rent boy from a chorus line of young men, the two end up back at Jim's place, smoking, drinking and dancing the time away as a precursor to the act itself; more for Jim's sake if truth be told, than for the boy himself. Only when things start to get intimate between them, the young man (Cary Ryan) throws up, not used to sherry at the vicarage; nor for that matter the kindness of a man who shocked by his own yearning for sex ahead of the boys' needs, realizes the reality of the situation, only to then discover the true age of the young man in his arms.

Taking inspiration from the life of noted Church of England priest Bill Kirkpatrick, aka "The Diana of Earl's Court", known for his acts of compassion during the peak of both the AIDS crisis and the then exploitation of young male sex workers in Earl's Court during the 1980s, here Young has crafted a compelling story that's far removed for the inner conflict of those who devote their lives to a doctrine that forbids their very sexuality. Rather this well-played work shines the spotlight on the plight of sex workers who literally put their lives on the line when encountering strangers in the night. To that end, Fannin is exceptional in the role of Jim; his emotions laid bare for all to see. Yet it's Ryan as Simon, the rent boy of the piece, who captures your heart courtesy of his achingly real portrait of a vulnerable young man longing for affection, only to find himself one of many young men selling their body to seemingly the lowest bidder; their aspirations in life all but cast aside for the odd pound or two.

That the real life Jim / Father Bill, so shocked by the news of the death of a rent boy at the hands of a group of paedophiles, went on to found a charity that supported hundreds of male sex workers in the '80s and '90s, is not a spoiler. Rather it's credit to a man who sought to bring protection, comfort and care to young men working the streets and to those living with and indeed dying from AIDS at the height of the pandemic.

The result is a captivating work that here is played as a platonic love story, given Jim would never forget the teenager who he held in his arms that night; namely a boy who for that brief moment in time, was moved by a tender touch of a man who saw in him not a rent boy, but a young man longing for love and acceptance. That said, it's Jim's / Father's Bill's relationship with male sex workers that would forever change his life and indeed the lives of others for the better, that remains the powerful narrative core of this 'inspired by real life' work. Deeply moving, goes without saying.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› Hornbeam ‹‹

a short film by Mark Pluck.

2022 | 17 mins | UK.

a beautifully played short on the quest to find true love.

Dave says:

This beautifully played short film from director Mark Pluck tugs at the heartstrings by showcasing a love that came so close and yet so far, from being perfect.

Not that love was in the air when two strangers met in the middle of the night; a deserted car park the pick-up point for the fortysomethings to get to know each other intimately well. Only sex is not on the agenda here, as a gardener by trade (Daniel Lane) is set to discover when he finds himself in the company of a man (Christopher Sherwood) so closeted that he's not even out to his parents, or almost anyone else for that matter. Cutting their time together short, the two men go their separate ways, only to repeatedly meet each other over the course of the next few nights that soon turn into days; for conversation, friendship and perhaps something more akin to a beautiful thing.

Essentially a two-man play, here actor, writer and producer Lane has crafted a telling work on the quest to find true love; namely when that one person feels the same way about you in their heart, as you do about them. Only and with a spoiler warning firmly in place, here Lane opts to pull the rug out from under the feet of romantics, by dropping two key lines from each party into the conversation; revelations that will have dramatic consequences on their burgeoning relationship.

Well-played throughout by the Lane / Sherwood pairing who wonderfully capture the 'yin and yang' styled nature of their relationship, the result is a deeply touching work on life, love and if anything regret over what could have been and what, nearly was. Captivating, if ultimately quite sad.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› Too Rough ‹‹

a short film by Sean Lžonadh.

2022 | 15 mins | UK.

a gritty take of the difficulties that some gay teens face in coming out to their parents.

Dave says:

In the gay cinematic world where we're more used to coming out stories with a happy ending, here writer and director Sean Lžonadh delivers a gritty take of the difficulties that some gay teens face in coming out to their parents.

For this is the story of gay teenager Nick (Ruaridh Mollica); a young man who's clearly in love with his boyfriend Charlie (Joshua Griffin), only and with many a good reason, to have never invited him back to the family home, until that is, an openly gay house party finds him having the Dutch courage to do so. Yet come the morning after the night before, he wakes up to find Charlie lying next to him. Panic-stricken to the point of paranoia at the likelihood of being found in bed with his lover, the two are but prisoners behind the closed door of Nick's bedroom, with Charlie all too soon aware of the reasons as to why Nick shied away from inviting him to meet his parents, as the sound of an expletive filled row between the two travels through the thin walls of the council house. Only when Nick's autistic brother Adam (Oliver Wright) unexpectedly walks in on the two, is their relationship about to be exposed to his unsuspecting mother and father?

Vividly contrasting the sexual openness of Charlie with the closeted reality of Nick's home life, here Lžonadh delivers an emotional story that pulls no punches in showcasing how for some gay teenagers, coming out to their parents, is far from an easy decision to make. To that end, both Griffin and Mollica excel in their contrasting roles and yet whilst Griffin is on fine form throughout as a true boyfriend in need, standing by his man whatever the consequences be, it's Mollica who steals the show with the look of fear vividly etched across his character's face as the gravity of the situation that Nick finds himself in, dawns. And it's this relationship between the two young man and therein the screen chemistry between the actors that frankly make this story so convincing, as they and in a relative short space of time, draw you into their lives and the potential repercussions of being found to be gay, in a homophobic household where those who are supposed to care for you, are more interested in spending the night with Johnnie Walker.

The result is an achingly real depiction of coming out to those you love, in a dysfunctional family unit. Well-played from start to finish, Lžonadh nonetheless leaves you with a close-of-play that cries out for a sequel to be made, given the look on the boys' faces is one of longing for love, support and acceptance. Only will it be forthcoming?

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

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