Short Films to Watch: Pride Month

June means Pride Month, as people all over the world come to celebrate the LGBTQ+ experience. This week also sees the ASFF Season of Film programme LGBTQ+ Shorts: Defining Gay Cinema take to the big screen at York Theatre Royal. The screening, in partnership with Iris Prize, showcases four films that ask questions about how love can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. To get you in the mood, we select five fantastic LGBTQ+ films from the ASFF library for you to watch right now.


Poet, essayist and activist Lisa Luxx performs her own spoken word poem Lesbian in Rosemary Baker’s dramatic and intense visualisation. “This poem is ultimately about the public lesbian experience,” Luxx says, referring to the toxic connotations of the word ‘lesbian’ that has caused many queer women to hesitate before using it. Luxx’s forceful delivery – largely given as she faces her own reflection in the mirror – emphasises this, as Baker switches between different women removing make-up, stripping back their armour in this most vulnerable space.


From Brent-based filmmaker Roxy Rezvany, who we recently spoke to about her new project Photo Booth, comes the 16mm film Wifi Rider. The documentary short, which played at ASFF 2021, 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. Everything begins to change when he begins to channel his frustrations into his fashion label, Trashy.


Adam Palmer’s sensitive tale tells of two men – played by Nick Preston and Lawrence Walker – from opposing gangs who share a moment on the basketball court. As Palmer said when the short played at ASFF 2020: “The idea for Judas came about after seeing gangs in my local area. It’s always shown as such a heterosexual or masculine landscape, but it got me thinking, there could be at least one person struggling with their identity and where they fit into.” Featuring an elegiac score from Thom Robson, this naturalistic take on the struggle for self-acceptance is a fascinating look at sexuality, expressed more with gestures and looks than dialogue.  


Ron Dalglish’s introspective portrait, focusing on subject Elliot Jack Stew, played at ASFF 2019. As the camera stares at him, watching emotions in his face, we hear Elliot’s most intimate thoughts as he contemplates how his life will be after hearing the news that he has HIV. “I never went through what I assume a lot of people with HIV go through – which is this: ‘how will anybody ever love me again?’” he says, as he ponders the emotional rollercoaster he faces in a disarmingly calm manner.  A highly moving work.


Emma Dalzell-Khan’s ASFF 2019 Official Selection short is a vibrant piece about self-expression. Five lithe male dancers – beautifully choreographed by Jordan Robson – move in and around each other in a colourful space. The work explores what it means to be a man in today’s world. Cut to ‘Queen’ by Perfume Genius, the lyrics ‘don’t you know you’re queen’ perfectly distill Dalzell-Khan’s efforts to unpick the complexity of masculinity.

LGBTQ+ Shorts: Defining Gay Cinema screens at York Theatre Royal on June 17. For more details, click here.

James Mottram