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‘Boys on Film 22: Love to Love You’ review

Boys on Film’ is the longest-running gay shorts series and over the years it’s showcased a wide range of shorts from across the globe, showing many different stories from the LGBTQ+ community. Often a timely reminder that the freedoms we enjoy in the Western world aren’t the same across the globe, ‘Boys on Film’ brings together shorts under a similar theme with every volume. The latest addition to the series is ‘Boys on Film 22: Love to Love You’, which features 8 shorts across a lengthy 142 minutes.

This collection opens with ‘Have We Met Before?’ by UK director Oliver Mason and it takes viewers through the history of how gay men meet starting in the 70s and running through to modern day. From the hanky code and public toilet hook-ups, to the Internet and smartphone apps, the short features stories from men who reveal what it’s been like to be gay through the ages and the various ways they’ve met other men. It makes you realise just how accessible hook-ups are these days, when you can literally have someone in your bed within minutes after speaking to them on an app.

Boys on Film 22: Love to Love You
Have We Met Before? (Credit: Peccadillo Pictures)

UK director Thomas Hescott’s ‘The Act’ follows and it’s a story set in 1965 on the eve of the decriminalisation for acts of male homosexuality. Matthews (Samuel Barnett) spends his nights exploring his sexuality and meeting men in Soho, with the threat of being found out and punished hanging over him. He forms a relationship with another man, that threatens to reveal his secret and a tense push-pull ensues.

While the first two shorts tell important parts of history for gay men, Michael Elias Thomas’ ‘First Position’ moves the viewer to ‘80s San Francisco where a young dancer tries to follow his dreams despite battling AIDs. He becomes embroiled in a relationship with another dancer, who tries to help him, but his health and his passion create a head-on collision for disaster.

Across the rest of the collection, the stories are varied and give insight into different aspects of the life of gay men. Luis Pachecho & Rafael Ruiz Espejo’s ‘Winter’ is a touching story of a non-binary cabaret performer unexpectedly reconnecting with their father, while ‘The Suit Weareth The Man’ by Mitchell Marion is a nightmarish exploration of sexual and cultural identities of a young man lusting after his boss but trying to please his conservative mother.

Boys on Film 22: Love to Love You
Thrive (Credit: Peccadillo Pictures)

Brazilian film-maker Akira Kamiki’s ‘Infinite While It Lasts’ sees two men meet at a party and fall in love, but their relationship proves to be anything but straightforward as those around them expect it to fail. They believe they can beat the odds but are they fooling themselves? By contrast Australian director Andrew Lee takes a look at two teenage best friends who may or may not cross the friendship line in ‘Melon Grab’. The short is understated but poses plenty of thought-provoking questions.

Bringing things to a close is Jamie Dispirito’s ‘Thrive’ and it’s the finest short on the collection. Two young men meet in person for a hook-up after finding each other on an app. After having sex, they begin to open up to each other, with each having a surprising secret to share with the other. The film explores the shame and guilt, as well as stigmas, around sexual health and it’s a bold 17 minutes.

‘Boys on Film 22: Love to Love You’ continues the series’ tradition of pushing the viewer to think about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community, and it captures moments that many will be able to relate to. As is always the case, some of these shorts are stronger than others but all have important messages to convey. When the shorts hit great highs, as they do with ‘Thrive’ and ‘The Act’, the collection is superb and it’s worth watching for those alone.

Boys on Film 22: Love to Love You
Credit: Peccadillo Pictures

Cast: Ben Aldridge, Samuel Barnett, Simon Lennon Directors: Oliver Mason, Thomas Hescott, Michael Elias Thomas, Luis Pacheco & Rafael Ruiz Espejo, Mitchell Marion, Akira Kamiki, Andrew Lee, Jamie Dispirito Writers: Various Certificate: 18 Duration: 142 mins Released by: Peccadillo Pictures Release date: 27th June 2022 Buy ‘Boys on Film 22: Love to Love You’ now

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Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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