A look at the Modern Love selection at the 22nd annual short film and animation festival, Encounters at Bristol’s Watershed cinema.
With apparently less than 50% of teens today identifying as straight, it would have been nice to see one or maybe even 2 stories to be centred on LGBT+ relationships. Hence it was a real treat to find that 4 out of 6 of the selection were. And whilst the 2 male/female stories were wonderful in their own right (even if they did both follow the classic hetero tropes of marriage and pregnancy), the diversity and poignancy of the LGBT+ mini-flicks was really refreshing.
Balcony (2015) dir. Toby Fell Holden
A modern day, Shakespearean take on “two houses, both alike in dignity”, their unwarranted hatred of one another, and eventually the tragic results not being due to the forbidden romance but instead the underlying racial prejudice between the two young women. A cautionary tale not on love between enemies but on the dangers of preconception.
A Night in Tokoriki (O Noapte in Tokoriki) (2016) dir. Roxana Stroe
Stroe delivers a wonderful coming together of multiple different countries’ party cultures shown through really gorgeous uses of light, colour and music. The film’s lack of speech, and focus on the visual really enforces the theme of not judging a book by its cover – or even “don’t judge a gay man by his girlfriend”. Through the different cultures’ reactions to the homosexual plot twist, the audience itself is forced to acknowledge their own acceptance of heteronormativity.
Honeymoon (2016) dir. Ronit Meranda
Honeymoon is a fresh humanistic snapshot into the lives of two deaf women and the translation of the pedantic arguments of non-deaf couples into the real life struggle of the deaf community. The place and representation of the female narrative is problematic as it is in film (and the world!) so to have issues that so obviously and so wonderfully belong to the female, hearing-impaired minority as the central focus of a story is so important.
Marina & Adrienne (2016) dir. Lucy Campbell
The complete lack of context to the beginning of Marina & Adrienne is what makes it supremely enthralling; you are thrown into the middle of a story, just as these girls are thrown into this wild seascape. From the start it is atmospheric, visceral and wonderfully unconventional for the (normally) testosterone-fuelled genre of the nautical film. Like Stroe’s film, the use of dialogue is replaced by a hyperbolic landscape that physically made me chill.
In their diversity, this cluster of films makes for a strong, beautiful selection that exemplifies the wide spectrum of love in the modern age. To present a relationship, which often needs time to develop in order to be effective on the screen, as tenderly and intimately as some of these film makers have is quite something. Like a captivating relationship in itself, every second, every shot of these films counts – short film has truly shown itself as one of the most undervalued mediums. We’ll try to get to the bottom of it in our ongoing Brief Encounters series.