London LGBT Film Festival 2015
The BFI Flare team may have allowed a non-white member onto the programming team, but - on tonight's offering at least - the festival remains (to coin a phrase) hideously white. It was hard not to feel my heart sinking a bit as one pair of white boys after another wrestled with their feelings in The View From Here, a collection of six shorts on the theme of coming out.
That's not to diminish the films themselves, all of which were, at least, charming and competent. Søren Green's En eftermiddag (An Afternoon) was sweet ("Mathias and Frederik hang out after school. But does Mathias have the courage to tell his friend how he really feels?"), and Neil Ely's Mirrors ("a pair of ‘straight’ guys discuss their feelings in the cramped confines of a gay club toilet cubicle") wryly truthful. But there was a certain sameness to the other films - Gryning (Stockholm Daybreak), Tomorrow, and particularly Simon Anderson's Morning Is Broken - a tired retreading of the old tropes of self-loathing, of fruitlessly pursuing the unattainable straight guy.
Tired doesn't apply to Yohann Kouam's Le Retour (The Return), which stood head and shoulders above the other films, both looking and feeling like a full length feature. Opening with a group of black youths posing for the camera, gazing nonchalantly at the sky, it stars Adama Procida as 15-year-old Willy, who "must make sense of the world around him after he learns the truth about his older brother" (a dazzlingly beautiful Yann Gael). It's a rare glimpse into other lives, other stories; Le Retour alone is worth the price of the ticket.
BFI Flare: In case you didn't get the memo, Black Lives Matter.
Next: Futuro Beach.
Read last year's reviews.