Following on from recent shorts collection The Danish Boys, NQV Media is releasing the next instalment in its World Boys series. This time the focus moves to The Latin Boys and collects together six shorts that look at the gay experience south of the Rio Grande with shorts from Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica and Peru.
The Latin Boys opens with Unicorn from Bolivian film-maker Rodrigo Bellott. Focusing on Isaac (Doug Porter), a closeted gay member of the Mennonites, a deeply religious group, Unicorn explores sexual repression. Isaac escapes from the community and experiences life in the modern world as a gay man when he meets another closeted man whom he grows close to. Fearing that he’ll be recaptured and taken back, Isaac attempts to cut ties with the community but they aren’t willing to let him go so easily.
Unicorn is a moving and deeply emotional start to The Latin Boys and it’s one of the strongest shorts here. With a nuanced performance from Doug Porter, the short hits all the right notes and highlights the problems that still exist when religion and sexuality collide. With a strong soundtrack and beautiful direction, the short will make you feel very deeply and it’s really something special.
The second short, El Amigo, moves to Peru and is from film-maker Erick Salas Kirchhausen. Marcos (Sebastian Rubio) confides in his best friend Estban (Oscar Meza) that his relationship with his girlfriend is lacking excitement. That revelation, along with watching porn together, leads the two friends to cross a boundary that they may never be able to recover from.
El Amigo reminded me a little of Marco Berger’s 2009 film Plan B and it’s incredibly sexually-charged. One of the friends is keener than the other to have a sexual encounter and the other is surprised at how it makes him feel when it happens. The way things unfold is awkward, thrilling and understandably confusing by the time the short ends. I almost feel like there needs to be a follow-up to see what happens in the aftermath.
After those two shorts, the collection becomes a little hit-and-miss. Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau’s Mila Caos treads a familiar story as we see a 17-year-old Cuban teenager transforming himself into drag every weekend, desperately hoping for his mother’s approval. It’s a perfectly fine short but it lacked the impact that the first two have. Andrés Madrigal Alvarado’s Pray For Us pits a group of teenage punks against a religious supermarket owner as they hide out in her store and violence threatens to break out. Like the short before it, I didn’t feel it left much of an impression or offered anything particularly new to the gay cinema genre.
Things pick up again with Carlito Leaves Forever from Quentin Lazzarotto. Set in the Amazonian jungle, the short is incredibly subtle as the silent titular character decide to leave his village and a chance encounter reveals his sexuality, something he’s always kept quiet. It’s an important reminder that in many parts of the world, you can still be cast out for your sexuality and that people deny who they are simply to survive.
The Latin Boys ends on an interesting but not particularly effective note with Henrique Arruda’s I Am Yet to Make You a Love Song. The short attempts to capture the love between two men in an abstract way. For me it was a little too abstract and while visually it drew me in, narratively it left me completely cold. I could see that Arruda was trying to convey love in a fresh way but I just couldn’t connect with it.
I always find short collections to be a mixed bag and The Latin Boys is no exception. It’s worth checking out for the first two shorts alone, which would have hovered around the 5 star mark had they not been on the same collection as the other four. None of these shorts is bad per se, it’s just they didn’t match the heights that the first two did for me. There are lots of interesting ideas here and it should please most people. For me, it’s filled the gap until The Israeli Boys arrive.
Cast: Doug Porter, Eric Robles, Arturo Lora, Lorena Sugier, Oscar Meza, Sebastian Rubio, Yaniel Castillo, Rebecca Rodriguez Aragon, Paula Ali, Sandra Ribas, Saul Espinazo, Leo Ocampo, David Elizondo, Carlito Tirira Meshi, Arlindo Bezerra, Pedro Fasanaro Directors: Rodrigo Bellott, Erick Salas Kirchhausen, Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau, Andrés Madrigal Alvarado, Quentin Lazzarotto, Henrique Arruda Certificate: 18 Duration: 108 mins Released by: NQV Media Release date: 20th December 2019