Conscious that I’ve not been able to cover much from this festival, I thought I should pick at least one of the four programmes of short films. Drawing from the Community was about 45 minutes long, and made up of six animated films; so utterly different from the feature films I’d seen so far.
I relaxed and watched, and steadily relaxed some more, drawn into admiration of the visuals, the variety, and the minds of these filmmakers which opened up to me. While watching, I was struck by the art and absorbed all the ideas, these expressions of feeling and life; afterward, though, what had stayed with me most was the immense range within these six pieces, in terms of both mood and animation style.
The LGBTQ+ umbrella of communities does indeed cover the breadth of the world and has myriad stories to tell. Festivals such as SHOUT demonstrate this very well.
(dir Leo Crane, UK, 2020)
Jay is trapped in the relentless City until he is forced to confront his relationship with Time and himself.
Watercolor images of life models, combined with real interviews with models, bring to life an empowering story of slowing down from the city and letting go, finding acceptance of one’s own body and identity. Utterly beautiful; and yes, that’s a lot to cover in eight minutes, but it does. I’ve watched this one twice, more spellbound each time, and feeling equally free along with the main character by the end.
(dir Dominica Harrison, UK, 2020)
During a long hot summer in the forest, Child is forced to grow up. First her Dog becomes ill, then out of the blue, her Mother returns to their dacha with a new lover. Child’s world is turned upside down…
This was a very odd little film, quite abstract – even in comparison to the watercolor world of Nude Triumphant. Chado combines digital animation and risograph printing, at the same time as combining a coming of age story with a fairy-tale style. I was captivated, but can’t claim to have understood it entirely.
(dir Holly Summerson, UK, 2019)
Acceptable Face is an animated discussion about the ‘ideal’ respectable queer person. How would they look, act, and let people know that they’re not “that kind of gay”?
Now this one was both lovely and utterly relatable. Using charcoal animation to illustrate interviews expressing a range of fears and experiences, this short film provides incredible insight into what it’s like for those who feel obliged to put on a good impression, a polite, acceptable face of gay, queer, or trans people. There’s a difficult line to tread in both being accepted and not “letting the side down”. Some of the narrative is rather gritty, some restrained and some simply tells life like it is, and the fabulously expressive drawings add layers of feeling to the (real) voices.
(dir Kojirou Shishido, Japan, 2007)
A journey through the uncertainty and excitement of young love and homoerotic love, linked to the natural world: trees reflecting on the surface of a pond, butterflies fluttering in the breeze.
This ten-minute anime is not so much a story as a series of brief scenes of park and school, with one repeating encounter which becomes finally bold. The teen characters are sensitively and patiently drawn, with not much detail, but just enough to feel like the writer knows them. There were some images that were so fine that I can’t be sure if they were painted or if the animation was subtly blended with live-action. What I loved most was the application of daylight throughout the short, through windows, trees, and onto rain. Oh and this one’s available on YouTube for anyone to see.
Chromosome Sweetheart AKA Souchokutai no hito
(dir Honami Yano, Japan, 2017)
An ex-couple in a café, a girl sucking on her girlfriend’s hair, a running woman, a fleeing town, a little girl walking along the river. In this world, there are as many forms of love as there are people.
I didn’t find this one comfortable to watch, because to me the images were strangely abrasive. But as it progressed, I gradually accepted that this can reflect authentic experiences of relationships, just as any other visual style can. Actually, there was one surprisingly erotic scene with a shared peach which showed the film to be more complex and broader in scope than it first appeared.
(dir Rupert Williams and Ellie Land, UK, 2020)
Three stories of denied access and exclusion, bringing to light society’s views on disability, gender, and race in the most intimate spaces.
A more visually accessible piece, yet with content to confront and make the viewer think, this is essentially a short animated documentary about the difficulties some people face in accessing privacy in public. Three contributing narrators bring their own case studies, demonstrating that civil rights and inclusivity do indeed meet in the bathroom. My mind may not have always fitted into so-called “societal norms” and I’ve often wished my body matched, but by the end of this little film, I felt grateful that my body has never presented any doubt.
Short films are rarely as widely released or publicized as features, so I’ll encourage you to check out these filmmakers’ web pages:
- Leo Crane’s site
- Nica Harrison’s site
- Holly Summerson’s site
- Kojiro Shishido’s site
- Honami Yano’s site
- Bathroom Privileges
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