THE MALE GAZE: A BETTER TOMORROW - Short Film Collection
A Better Tomorrow is the new instalment in NQV Media’s short film collection The Male Gaze, continuing their anthology of gay shorts from around the world. This collection has gathered five diverse films from Spain, Mexico, Austria, Greece and China; take a look at each below.
IF THEY KNEW (Spain)
Starring: Iñigo Aranburu, Koldo Olabarri, Eneritz Artetxe
Director: Aitor Gametxo
Martin works in a recording studio by day, a job that he loves. But by night he leads another life, dredging cruising spots for anonymous encounters with strangers. This double life is thrown into disarray when he meets a young actor who crosses between these worlds, marking either the start of something more fulfilling or a dangerous clash between these two lives. A film of contrast, hidden desire and - even sometimes - humour, this is a short that manages to show a real balanced depiction of a man whose perpetual solitude has led him to extremes. And it does so without any judgement whatsoever.
Starring: Guillermo Nava, Luis Vegas, Leonardo Maldonado, Tete Espinoza
Director: Jonathan Anzo
In rural Mexico, young Xutaj is deeply hurt when his overbearing father catches him undressed with his boyfriend. With the outbreak of the Covid pandemic coinciding with their separation, the boy is forced away from his lover, unsure whether he is fighting against his father’s disapproval or just the lockdown itself. A well-crafted short that captures that moment from 2020 when all our personal lives were invaded by global events, this is a story we can all identify with. That moment of flux, responsibility and guilt is summed up expertly here, with Xutaj every bit the Everyman in a coming-of-age romance that is very much a product of its time.
BOOM AND BLOOM (Austria)
Starring: Nils Hohenhövel, Simon Schwarz. Director: Stefan Langthaler.
When father and son head into the Austrian Alps to hike together, the distant pair are forced to talk properly for the very first time. Recently single, the father is trying to forge the connection that he never had with his gay son. Rambling and conversational, this is a slow short that explores a complex relationship past, present and future. Helped by its sweeping locations and stunning backdrop, this is otherwise a slow meander through both its narrative and its setting.
SEXUAL DISTANCING (Greece)
Starring: Jeo Pakitsas, Thodoris Vrachas
Director: Dimitris Asproloupos
During the height of the Covid pandemic, Kostas and Adonis are quarantined alone, connected to the outside world only via the Internet. They speak regularly about the daily drudgery of lockdown, but as they speak to the horny locals on hook-up apps, are they finding more in each other than in the casual conversations with strangers? A postcard from a time when the little things meant a lot, this character piece is a quaint reminder of when our lives became incredibly local.
AND WE COLLIDE (China)
Starring: Huang Kejing, Wang Yancheng
Director: Dongni Lanca Li
On the island of Hainan, where the Chinese launch their space missions, a young farm boy is completely enamoured when he meets a handsome, young aspiring astronaut. Even though this stranger returns his admiration, the difference in their background and their caste seems insurmountable, but he can’t help but dream that this otherworldly future might be his own. A gentle romantic tale, this is a wholesome and sweet short from a budding Chinese director.
This collection features a host of compelling stories from around the world. Each dreams of a future with a better tomorrow, but several shows these characters finding it today. While this compendium rests heavily on material depicting the pandemic, its best film is probably Xutaj. Although I really liked And We Collide, which peels back the curtain on rural China. As usual, this instalment of The Male Gaze is a life-affirming smorgasbord of international treats.
UK Release: 23rd October 2023 on VOD, released by NQV Media