The new short film collection from NQV Media is out on July 5th to watch On Demand. Upon Her Lips: Heartbeats features shorts from Israel, France, Denmark, the UK and USA. Take a look at each of the short films below.
AFTER HIS DEATH (Israel)
Starring: Adi Bielski, Levana Finkelstein, Kim Gordon, Ori Lachmi
Director: Lior Soroka
After the death of her father, Ayelet discovers that he had been having an affair with another man. Although her mother is reluctant to talk about it, she decides with her girlfriend to track him down and speak to him, despite her family’s anger. A film about queer kinship, there is a beautiful moment in which the lover is rejected by her family but Ayelet hugs him tight because only she can understand tis new rejection and the life he must have led until now. Melancholy but hopeful, this depicts the opening of a new chapter, with a woman understanding herself more through knowing the truth about where she came from.
Starring: Isabel Juréhn, Elin Övergaard
Director: Elin Övergaard
Two women are in bed together when they find themselves in an argument and despite their affection for each other, they can’t help but be swept up in their emotions. An inconsequential film about the ups and downs of a relationship, this is a short with little going for it, with two bland characters not doing very much at all. It’s observational, which does not lend itself well to a film that seems to have no purpose or plot.
Starring: Lynn Stewart-Taylor, Lara Steward, Catherine Guy
Director: Ronit Meranda
Two women are on their honeymoon and having an argument in a restaurant, except they don’t disturb anyone around them because they’re speaking in sign language. Free to argue at full pelt in public, tensions are high as their argument turns to fury and their movements begin to attract attention. An intriguing snapshot of a deaf couple and the unique dynamic that sign language brings to their relationship, this is a simple short that captures and explains a moment that a non-deaf person could never understand if witnessed in the flesh.
Starring: Sarah Simone Jorgensen, Tom-Lee Ziegelman
Director: Tom-Lee Ziegelman
A young foreign woman is in Denmark, learning the language from her partner. Thinking that she is learning a functional version of the language, instead she is learning only the words that her girlfriend wants her to say, inviting her to bed and to kiss her and to give her compliments. It’s only when she goes shopping and tries to speak the Danish that she’s learnt that she realises the truth. A cute little comedy that uses its subtitles to create dramatic irony, some might call the Danish girlfriend romantic but others might call her cruel. I think I fall in the latter category.
Starring: Kinsey Kunkel, Cece Kelly, Ewan Fleck, Rohan Myers
Director: Nathalie Álvarez Mesén
Twelve year-old Cadie lives in rural Appalachia, where she hangs out with her neighbour, Sarah, and explores the countryside nearby. Talking about childish things, they hang out with two boys who they feel they’re supposed to flirt with, but they feel much more comfortable together without them. A sympathetic short that adeptly captures that moment of sexual awakening, Kunkel is superb as Kadie, with all the sass and self-assurance of a girl who’s yet to feel any pressure by society to conform. A buddy-movie with an implied romantic edge, this is a very well-crafted short that captures the listless excitement of a rural childhood.
FORBIDDEN FRUIT (France)
Starring: Zoé Héran, Jade Henot, Céline Jorrion
Director: Marion Jhöaner
Sam’s relationship with her mother is utterly toxic. Every day she is given a pill supposedly for her “growth”, but she begins to question what she’s actually taking. In school she’s awkward and lumpish, but when a friendly and charismatic classmate shows an interest in her, her mother’s reaction to her new friend is one of jealous animosity. A nuanced short with gloriously subtle characters, this does a brilliant job at hinting toward the truth, just slightly lifting the lid on an utterly compelling story. Sam’s mother is completely contemptible, but her furious face and muttered manipulation is all we see of what must have been years of cruel domination. With a great performance by Héran (the now grown-up star of masterpiece ‘Tomboy’) this is a blisteringly tense but stoically restrained coming-of-age thriller.
Directors: Paige Gratland, Sam McWilliams.
In this short documentary we meet Deana McGuffin, an artisan lesbian bootmaker from New Mexico. When she’s approached by a pair of artists to create a gay themed boot, she rises to the challenge but insists they enter them into the Texas bootmaking competition, where their big Queer boots compete alongside works from cowboys from all over the South. A fun and empowering short about the queering of a traditional craft, Deana makes for a charming subject and the film will really make you care about how boots are made!
BUDDHI BUDDHA (France)
Starring: Aude-Laurence Clermont Biver, Elisa Carà
Director: Sophie Galibert
After a trip backpacking around Nepal, a girl invites an old friend to catch up and tell her all about her spiritual experiences discovering a new life as a Buddhist. Her friend suggests she teach her how to meditate, but as they try to focus on their own bodies, they find it hard not to think about each other’s. A film about a different kind of self-discovery, it proves that you don’t have to go halfway around the world to try new things. This is a fun and sexy short that is wholly recognisable for anyone who knows anyone that had a gap year! The unifying ”heartbeats” of this collection’s title refer to the quickened pulse of the women in love in each short, awakening their desire in a multitude of ways. ‘Forbidden Fruit’ is the strongest of the group, but altogether these shorts form a diverse and beguiling compendium of sapphic love.
UK Release: 5th July 2021, released by NQV Media