Pride 2023: Recommended Films from Aesthetica’s Film Library
June is the month of Pride, the annual series of events when the LGBTQIA+ community come together to celebrate. Films events up and down the country showcase diverse representations and experiences, from Too Desi Too Queer, London Indian Film Festival’s pioneering short film programme at BFI Southbank on 23 June to Bristol’s Queer Vision Film Festival from 24 June – 9 July. So, to get yourself in the mood for all the incredible Pride events happening up and down the country, here are five brilliant films from the Aesthetica Short Film library that explore relationships, intimacy and coming-of-age tales.
In Blyndex, Rodrigo Inada and Yuri Mira’s documentary focuses on various members of House of Blyndex, an organisation that sees Black and LBGTQIA+ people come together to join the ballroom community. “Things have been really hard, being queer and black in São Paulo,” remarks one member, before explaining how the House of Blyndex made him feel confident about his body. Intimate confessionals are mixed with energetic movement and dance, and a pounding electronic score, to create a radical celebration of art on the margins.
From Brent-based filmmaker Roxy Rezvany comes Wifi Rider. Made in 2021, this documentary follows Shukri, a Queer Palestinian teenager who yearned to leave his lonely life in Jerusalem. “When I was 17-years-old, I wanted to move to Paris,” he says. “I was always under the impression that people’s lives were easier in the west.” Now spending his days on the internet, as he looks at western pop stars preaching about self-love and unity, Shukri is in desperate need of connection – and Rezvany’s 16mm film examines how he channels his frustrations into his fashion label, Trashy.
Right from the off, with the daydreamy 15-year-old school girl Cindy Wei (Rae Lim) making an erotic proposition direct to camera, Tsveta Lozanova’s coming-of-age comedy will have you in stitches. The bespectacled Cindy – who probably deserves her own feature film or graphic novel – makes an unusual discovery when she realises that her cross-dressing cousin is operating as a phone sex worker. As she dives into his world, she grows in confidence – with an ending accompanied by a glorious rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma.
Made in 2015, Kate Jessop’s striking 2D animation is a beautifully rendered 5-minute piece that deals with a strained relationship between an Indian daughter (voiced by Bharti Patel), now a young mother herself, and her father (Ernest Ignatius), who can’t accept his daughter’s sexuality. “I’m gay. It’s the 21st century!” she announces, although ignorance and stubbornness keep them apart. Originally commissioned as a work to explore South Asian LGBT relationships in contemporary Britain, the script by Carl Miller is a poignant look at families in the modern age.
Australian writer-director Jessica Barclay Lawton (The Sweetness) introduces us in this short documentary from 2020 to Zef. An environmentalist, non-binary bar worker, the free spirited Zef is a 21-year-old on a mission to discover the truth in and amongst the noise. “I didn’t know I was gay until I was 16½,” we hear, the first revelation in Lawton’s impressionistic, intimate portrayal. A film that blends narrative elements with documentary tropes, it’s a highly unusual experience, topped off with a dreamy sound design.
Words: James Mottram