Wednesday, July 18, 2007


International Male- Gay Shorts Program
Prince Music Theater
Monday, July 16, 2007

Shorts are always a mixed bag for me. I find it frustrating at times when I find a true gem mixed within a bunch of films that I couldn’t really give a shake about, you know? However, the International Male shorts program at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival was one of those rare exceptions. It was a collection of films that were entertaining and well-made, each one of them a delightful escape … except one. But hey, in a program of six films, one 6 minute misstep is fine.

The above mentioned misstep is the German entry “Miss Popularity” which edits educational films of the 1950s to show layers of homoeroticism beneath the surface. In truth, I couldn’t find layers of anything but narrative confusion. I believe the piece works as performance art, providing intense images and thoughtful quotes. However, amidst an evening of strong narratives, this one did not shine.


Director Josh Kim provides us a four minute short entitled ‘The Police Box’’. The film, set in Hong Kong, is the story of a young girl who writes a letter to a police officer and places it in the box on his beat. However, one day, a young man catches a glimpse of what is going on and decides to play a trick of his own. This film is cute, and reminded me of an effective, albeit over-long, commercial. I do believe that the final joke in the film suffers slightly with American audiences because of cultural differences.

The strongest short of the bunch, is the Sweedish film “Lucky Blue”, the story of a young man’s sexual awakening one summer, thanks to the arrival of a young man to his neighborhood. It always helps when a gay coming of age story is cast with incredibly beautiful young actors. However, it should be noted that Tobias Bengtsson performance, as the lead Olle, is one of the finest I had seen at the festival. The film is a charmer and hopefully plays at a festival near you.

‘Groucho’ a 20 minute short from Spain, fairs much better. It is the story of a sixteen year old boy, whose fears of coming out to his parents are only compounded by the pending arrival of an incredibly hot American exchange student. The boy takes refuge in the apartment of his gay neighbors in hopes to avoid any change in his status quo. And then his parents arrive. This film is cute fare with wonderful performances by all the actors. The use of the Richard Linklater-inspired animation during the opening credits, may give the wrong-impression of the film, however. Be advised.

Beautifully shot, “A Prayer in January” is the story of the final encounter between two lovers. This eleven-minute short, by director Ofir Raul Grazier, is highly sensual. In fact, the way Grazier shoots the bread-making in the kitchen could greatly increase cookbook sales. Jamie Oliver, look out!

‘Outland’ will not be for everyone, and that is not a bad thing. This Australian short is the story of a sci-fi geek, desperately trying to keep his ‘fanboy-lifestyle-and-friends’ closeted from his hot date. I was charmed by this smiple story. My only complaint is the extreme ‘geekness’, for lack of a better term, of some of the characters. I didn’t think it was necessary and distracted from the overall charm of the short.


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