Summer (10 min.) Great Britain
Directed by Hong Khaou
What are you going to wish for?
This intricately crafted short delicately explores the ache of unrequited love as Leung (Peter Peralta) reveals his true feelings for his beefy straight pal Will (Jay Brown).
Night Swimming (19 min.) USA
Directed by Daniel Falcone
This terrific bittersweet teen drama depicts that perennial gay dilemma: falling for straight boys. Young Otter idolizes his alpha-male buddy Darby who just might have similar feelings for him. This exquisitely crafted story unfolds on a road-trip to New York City.
Running Without Sound (13 min.) USA
Directed by Judd King
A deaf teen with a crush on his pal grapples with confusing emotions and tensions with his fellow cross-country runner team-mates in this finely crafted gay jock story.
Out Now (20 min.) Germany
Directed by Sven J. Matten
Small town shy teen Tom is tormented by his high school classmates while he pines over the blond boy at the candy kiosk. German, with English subtitles
The Bridge (8 min.) Australia
Directed by George Barbakadze
A forboding dramatic snapshot of a bi-national gay couple who just want to be together in Sydney.
Hitchcocked (8 min.) USA
Directed by David M Young
This smart, sexy, scary short gives new meaning to the term: shower scene.
Oedipus N+1 (26 min.) France
Directed by Eric Rognard
Knockout French phenom Jalil Lespert (Tell No One, De Sade) stars as Thomas, a gay man who dies and then awakens as a clone in a terrifying sci-fi future (shades of Gattaca) only to have his mother deny him access to his boyfriend as she attempts to cure his sexual preference.
French, with English subtitles
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* "Summer" (UK 2006) explores the common theme of unrequited love between a gay teenager and his best friend, who is straight. Sweet, give it 4 stars out of 5.
* "Night Swimming" (USA 2005) has a similar plot to the short above, but carries the gay boy's crush on the straight best friend a bit further, on an unplanned night together after the latter's vehicle breaks down en route to a concert, stranding them in the woods. The togetherness encourages the gay boy (Otter) to test the waters and see if his friend/idol (Darby) feels the same way. Realistic and emotional, give it five stars out of five.
* "Running Without Sound" (USA 2004) spotlights Sean, a gay deaf teen boy whose passion is cross country running. Already somewhat shy due to his inability to hear or speak, Sean has to rely on visual signs from his friends, which become more complicated when he develops a crush on a teammate. Sweet and creative short film; wish it had more time to develop the story. Four stars out of five.
* Small town, shy German teen Tom is considering being "Out Now" (Germany (20 min.) to his classmates, who already torment him as a sissy and outsider. He discusses his feelings with a boy he meets on the internet, including the fact that he has a crush on another boy who works at a nearby snack shop. A night out at a disco frequented by his classmates results in a revelation and a new resolve for the young man. In German with subtitles (Which unfortunately aren't that easy to read, since they often flash on the screen too briefly or are shown as white on a light background, rendering them near invisible). Three stars out of five.
* "The Bridge" (Australia 2006) - A young gay male couple leave their Russian homeland to escape homophobia, and relocate to Sydney Australia, awaiting approval to immigrate there. Their thoughts and emotions before (and after) the immigration decision is made are the subject of this intense, emotional film. Four stars out of five.
* "Hitchcocked" (USA 2006) is a sexy but somewhat scary story about two guys who meet on the internet for sex, with a very clever twist ending. Tempted to give it an extra star just for the title, but we'll stick with four stars out of five.
* "Oedipus N+1" (France 2003), likely boasting a production budget higher than the other six films put together, tells a creative and intriguing sci-fi story set in the distant future, when "The Circle" - the elite rich and educated part of the population - have essentially taken over control of the world, and push for conformity with its ideals and values. Thomas, a gay man, awakens to find out that he had died and, paid for my his mother, he has been cloned to live again ... but Mom wants a bigger say in that life, this time around. Impressive and generally well-acted, though a bit confusing as a 26 minute short. In French with English subtitles. I give it five stars out of five.
There are no DVD special features, other than trailers for other Wolfe releases.
I highly recommmend it.
I am not in the mood of explaining technical excellence today, so just plot/character analysis (and it would be unfair to low-budget indie productions anyways).
1. "Summer" from Great Britain is very good. A coming out story between a boy of Asian heritage (He looks Phillipino) and a British boy. The story started out with two boys doing what boys do, running around in athletic clothing, talking trash, catching leaves, blowing sand out of one's eye. All of which brought back fond memory of youth.
The highlight of this short is on the Phillipino boy's performance. He cried quietly to himself of the mistake he had made. That performance affected me. The kiss was unplanned and self-blaming ensued because of that. I can understand why he got angry over his straight mate, as a way to hide his discontent about himself, all too well, I might add. Excellent performance. The British boy's performance, however, is okay, but not outstanding. Fortunately he was sympathetic and tried to remand the friendship, otherwise, I might hate him for personal reason. LOL!
2. "Late Swimming" from the US. Now I can release my great discontent on the jock boy who played with the gay boy's feeling with this short. The straight beer-belly straight boy had a Goth girlfriend. Our DVD cover boy was the third wheel, just tagging along. I bet he was just shy (can't you relate to the character?). The straight boy asked our shy gay boy who did he think about when he jerked off. Like all honest shy gay boy, whose [virginal] sexuality being intruded without reservation, all he could do was hauntingly staring at the straight boy with the prolonged silence (the most dreadful attribute of being a wallflower). The straight guy /played/ with him, but didn't want to take the responsibility for opening the Pandora's box.
The gay boy just wanted to normalize the friendship. The beer-belly boy didn't want to do anything with him. The gay boy decided to leave this small town for the art school (good for him), of which he was unable to make the conviction because of his attached feeling.
This short is the best story of this collection, in my opinion. Our poster boy's (Bobby Steggert) performance is excellent. He knows how to use silence effectively.
Off-tangent: I think the filmmaker must be my age, because I don't know if kids nowadays can relate to stuff like goth culture. They are probably more familiar with emo instead.
3. "Running Without" Sound from the US. Another gem. After two shorts shot in excellent reel (though Summer is more 30-frame digital video-ish and Night Swim is more 24-frame), this one is really grainy. It puts me off at first but the story would soon take over.
Our gay mute boy (Sean, played by Shad Sager) is so sweet, I doubt people could possibly not fall in love with him with ease. His friend, unlike the beer-belly jock from the previous short, was actually quite affectionate toward him, despite he was probably straight and could not return the love. This straight boy was actually cute for a change..., except there was nothing Sean can do about it.
For a gay guy, it is quite challenging to express love even with sound.... So you see, a lot has to be done with written words or physically when Sean tried. Sean wanted to kiss the guy in the climax scene, I think the viewer can be deeply tormented with the straight boy's /I have no objection, but I am not going to act either/ kind of stance. Sean, of course, did what we so hate to see.... Us viewers also are tormented with whether the straight boy is really straight or not, but only Sean would know that.... Now that's genius.
Just a quick clarification for another reviewer's oversight. The guy is not a deaf, but a mute. He could still hear what people say, without reading their lips. He just couldn't express things vocally.
4. "Out Now" from Germany. This is the transition film where the quality just goes downhill from here. After the rather interesting opening animation, the story itself is a stereotype fest. The main character was a dorky kid where everyone teased him as a homo, but he did all the blunder to prove he was not. If you think this is going to be an interesting portrayal, then man, you are wrong, because it's done in a unbelievable cartoon-ish way. The near the end twist is cheesy, and it schtinks.
5. "The Bridge" from Australia. I bet this one is voted unanimously the most boring of all the shorts. The skipping between flashback and present gives little meaning to the story. The plot is about the guy anguish over the lost of his immigrant boyfriend because he was expelled. We don't get to see the love development so we don't get to see the lost either.
6. "Hitchcocked" from the US. The title gives away this is going to be a spoof. The ending is a surprise, but it doesn't save this film from gawful acting (which is on-par with liters of DVDs out there with "gay" slap to them as the selling point). It feels more like a skit or a home-made video (which can be creative) about some couple's foreplay documentary.... You know, like when "My So-Called Life" increasingly became more focused on Claire Dane's /parents'/ sex life, and how they desperately tried to salvage it with some /fun/ activity? Yes, that's a major e[...] I don't want to see it on TV. Whatever you do behind the closed door is your own business.
7. "Oedipus N+1" from France. The other reviewers already summed it up quite nicely, but I just don't find it interesting. My opinion, of course. You can watch it for the production value.