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(Shorts for Boys, Brisbane International Film Festival, Reviewed by Simon-Astley Scholfield, 4 August 2000).

A splendid evening at the new Powerhouse Live Arts Centre in New Farm. The large crowd was all abuzz at intermission, spilling out of the bar and onto the verandahs overlooking the Flood sculpture, eerie mangroves, River shimmering with city lights, and the starry sky. However, pretty standard queer fare in this year's selection of international shorts for queer men, with The Burning Boy -- the only Australian film (and the best in terms of originality) in the programme -- being introduced by one of the actors for its premiere.

S&M IN THE HOOD (dir. Al Lujan, USA, 1998, 5m).
Black and white snaps of a gay male couple dressing up in leather and chains lead to a switch to colour as one of them begins paddle-batting a suspended, spinning, feathered animal that serves as a fetish object for their sexual games.

MAKBUL THE FAVOURED ONE (dir. Huseyin Karagoz, Turkey, 1999, 7m).
Erotic master and slave tale. A heavily-kohled prince falls for his slave, after he performs a blow job on his highness's big toe during a rose petalled pedicure. Based on an 1890 poem, colourfully and sumptuously rendered.

DAS CLOWN (dir. Tom E. Brown, USA, 1999, 8m).
Sparkles, a grotesque doll (looking like a figurine version of a young Krusty the Clown), is the pet object of Mr Higgins, the storekeeper of a curio shop. One day a book called Das Clown mysteriously appears on a shelf, and as Mr Higgins reads out the German text of which he understands nought, Sparkles comes to life and begins a serial killing spree with an assortment of sharp weapons. In this tongue-in-cheek hysterical nightmare (presented as a series of slides with voice-over narration), Danny Kaye meets Fractured Fairy Tales meets Trilogy of Terror in a fusion of cinematic genres and cliches.

LETTERS FROM HOME (dir. Mike Hoolboom, Canada, 1996, 15m).
Moving visual narrative about AIDS-awareness, fusing a speech by gay film critic, Vita Russo; a multi-racial, multi-gendered and multi-sexual loud-mouthed activists; and a hybrid of film camera styles. An in-your-face reminder that the AIDS wars aren't over.

GINGER BEER (dir. Seamus, Rea, UK, 1999, 17m).
My dear, it's Cockney rhyming slang for the Q word. Paul is single and gay and works as a teacher but hasn't come out at work. He finds a lesbian and gay ballroom dancing club in order to train for his forthcoming work Xmas party. He starts dating his male dance partner, and the two end up on the dancefloor at the party, to the delight of all and sundry except for one of his homophobic (female) students.

HI, I'M STEVE (dir. Robert Kennedy, USA, 1999, 7m).
Steve is having trouble finding a man for uncomplicated no-strings-attached sex, although maybe that's not what he really wants. Turning to telephone dating, he becomes even more frustrated by the men on the line, some of whom he arranges to meet. One has a neck fetish, another has sculpted a reindeer out of luncheon ham as a centrepiece for his kitchen table. Yet Steve may just be weirder than all these guys put together. He resorts to impersonating a dolphin out of desperation, and finds success! A fast-paced wry black and white look at the world of gay classifieds.

THE BURNING BOY (dir. Kieran Galvin, Australia, 2000, 12m).
What's in a kiss? Quite a lot in this locally-made film (shot on the Sunshine Coast) which explores the negotiation of a bond of intimacy between a pair of ostensibly heterosexual mid-teenage men who seem to have eyes for each other. The twist in assumptions is tightly played out through tender performances of the colloquial dialogue by the young actors. A visually stunning piece moving from underwater pool scenes to mesmerising sea, sky and rockscapes as black and blue as the mysterious bruise on one of the boy's backs.

CAN I BE YOUR BRATWURST, PLEASE? (dir. Rosa von Praunheim, Germany, 1999, 28m).
A hunky new guest from the midwest (bisexual pornstar, Jeff Stryker) moves into an L.A. hotel as Xmas approaches, with the owner of the hotel and each of the oddball tenants all having outrageous sexual fantasies about him. There's a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, an African-American drag queen in a wedding dress, a Muscle Mary with a little dog, and the elderly mother of the hotel owner, who's preparing a sumptuous Xmas feast. Stryker, looking and sounding like a cross between John Wayne and Joe Dallesandro, of course satiates the curiosity factor by revealing his sausage (and it's an eyeful!) in some hilarious cannibalistic daydreams. With its poolside setting and pornstar actor, Bratwurst spoofs Paul Morrissey's Heat, and pivots on the big sexual identity question, "Do you like to eat, or to be eaten?!"

FILMNET DAILY 3.108 Friday August 4 2000
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2000, 2006 © Simon Astley Scholfield