Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blokes (shorts program)

We Once were Tide
Blokes” (shorts program), Fri 6/17 1:45p @ Castro, BLOK17C
UPDATE: all shorts now reviewed

Blokes (Block), dir. Marialy Rivas, 2011 Chile, 15 min., in Spanish with English subtitles; 
Spring, dir. Hong Khaou, 2011 UK, 13 min.; 
The In-between, dir. Alain Hain, 2011 USA, 10 min.; 
We Once were Tide, dir. Jason Bradbury, 2011 UK, 19 min. 
Triple Standard, dir. Branden Blinn, 2010, USA 20 min.; 
Family Affair (Assunto de Família), dir. Caru Alves de Souza, 2011, Brazil, 13 min., in Portuguese with English subtitles 
David Alfonso as Luchito in Blokes.
In Blokes (Block), young Luchito (David Alfonso, pictured) lives in a tenement complex (council block) and pines for Manuel (Campos Pedro), the boy across the courtyard, but the action is set in 1986, against the backdrop of the political upheavals of the Pinochet era in Chile. It’s a beautifully evocative portrait of sexual desire, with social and political unrest permeating everything. Highly recommended.

Noose and blindfold are not
toys intended for casual use.
In Spring, a 20-year-old college student has met up at a cafe with a top for his first experience of S&M, bondage, and dominance-and-submission. He is understandably nervous, asking directly how he can trust the older man. The top tells him that he thinks it’s hot that it’s the boy’s first time, but that he’s in good hands. He also tells him that feeling too safe might spoil the erotic thrill of the experience. They go back to the top’s flat and begin their scene, clearly with little or no discussion of the parameters and boundaries of that scene. Soon, the boy is made to stand on tiptoe and blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back and a noose round his neck. If he stands flat on his feet, the noose will tighten around his neck, asphyxiating him within minutes. It is profoundly and inexcusably irresponsible of the top to place a complete newbie in a position in which his life is literally in danger — where not merely the top’s action but his failure to act quickly enough could result in the bottom’s death — without taking adequate steps to assure the bottom that he will indeed survive the encounter. Of course, the bottom does survive, physically unscathed, but the reckless negligence of the top and the filmmaker’s tacit acceptance of it irredeemably ruin the film. Please boycott this film.
Danny Bernardy in The In-between

In The In-between, Jared (Danny Bernardy) has moved in with his boyfriend, a first for him. The question soon arises of how monoga­mous their relationship is, in theory and in practice. The scripted action between Jared and Robert (Brian Patacca) is accompanied by voice­over of documentary interviews with real gay men about monogamy and relationship issues. Unfortunately, I found the overlapping sound clips annoying, but overall the film offers an insightful exploration of monogamy and infidelity. Recommended.

In We Once Were Tide [photo above], Anthony (Alexander Scott) feels trapped, living with his dependent mother (Mandy Aldridge) in a cottage on the outskirts of a small village on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. There's fuck-all to do at home, but his mother requires constant supervision, so he sits with sketchbook in hand, waiting for inspiration. The one light in his life is his boyfriend Kyle (Tristan Bernays), but their moment of diversion turns to panic when they return to an empty house. Anthony is near his wits’ end, but Kyle has a few surprises in store. Scott and Bernays capture the palpable tension of the maelstrom of conflicting, sometimes contradictory, emotions, set against the desolate beauty of late winter. Highly recommended.
Crim and D at dinner in Triple Standard

In Triple Standard, former professional basketball player Crim (William Jennings) and his boyfriend D (Lee Amir-Cohen) must confront Crim’s deep-seated homophobia, which he expresses in nasty interactions during a friendly game at the gym. Indeed, Crim seems to be a poster boy for the idea that the most vocally homophobic guys are the closet cases. I loved the character of D, who is sure of himself and confident in stating his boundaries. Highly recommended.

Rossi and one of his brother’s friends
Rossi (Kauê Telloli) lives with his parents and his bully of an older brother Cauã (Thiago Franco Balleiro) in a flat in São Paulo, Brazil. In Family Affair (Assunto de Família), Rossi tries desperately to fit in with Cauã and his friends, who treat him as a nuisance or a plaything at their whim, but Rossi takes it in stride, presumably because he feels he has no choice. Other than his attraction to one of the friends, though, we don't get any insight into Rossi, and the matter-of-fact treatment of the bullying is disappointing. Recom­mended.

[Note: Family Affair (Assunto de Família) is not to be confused with Assuntos de Família – O Filme, the Brazilian title for the 2000 Growing Pains reunion movie. This film has neither Alan Thicke nor Kirk Cameron.]


  1. irrespective of what you think of the short film, Spring, and the character's action - it is grossly irresponsible of you tell people to boycott this film.

    SPRING, is a work of fiction and it's not representative of SM activity, and no way do I (the director) side with either character's action. You should really let people make up their own opinion.

    Urging people to boycott a film based on perceived inaccuracy in a work of fiction is very unfair and unprofessional of you.

  2. I think it was profoundly irresponsible of you to make the film, and I stand by my comments and my call for a boycott. I do not wish for your film to have any commercial success, nor do I wish to see more films like it made in the future, which makes calling for a boycott precisely the appropriate course. I did not say that I perceive your film as inaccurate, but that I perceive it as reprehensible. I saw about half the films in this year’s festival, and yours was without exception the worst.

    Furthermore, your claim that “no way do I (the director) side with either character’s action” is laughable, and, if I may say, very unprofessional of you.

  3. I just watched this short on the "Black Briefs" DVD. I have to agree with Lincoln. The film is reprehensible and says something about the filmmaker that indicates I wouldn't want him as a next door neighbor. He has to be amoral at the very least. Next time why not make a non-judgmental snuff film? Treat it as if it were a everyday occurrence.