Although there’s been a bit of a delay between releases, Girls On Film is back with Before Dawn, which features 11 short films from around the world. It’s an eclectic and interesting selection, so take a look at what we thought below.
Happy and Gay Dir. Lorelei Pepi (USA) 10 mins
A fun animated short, made in the style of a 1930s black and white cartoon. Two animal-like women invite two men out dancing. All is fine until the taxi driver realises this isn’t the sort of double date he thought, as they’re planning to spend the evening in a gay club. Things go further downhill when the club gets raided and the gay couples end up in a very strict church.
Happy and Gay is silly but very well done, perfectly capturing the feel of a 30s Merry Melodies-style cartoon. However, it gives things a smart, revisionist take, showing that life for some wasn’t that merry, as they were faced with homophobia, police raids and having to live in fear. It also subtly points out that while racism was perfectly acceptable to show back then, homosexuality wasn’t. A fun and entertaining slice of musical whimsy, which shows that sometimes things don’t change as much as we might think, even while they change a lot in other ways.
4 out of 5
No Matter Who Dir. Anne Claire Jaulin (France) 18 mins
It’s summer and a group of teen girls are out camping with their scout troop. It’s a world of fun, but also one of rules, including the moralistic principles of the organisation. It’s also a world that encourages intimacy between the girls – but intimacy that has its limits, especially when it comes to the ‘rules’ the girls impose upon themselves. After one of the girls kisses another in the woods, but gets spotted, the repercussions grow as the instigator of the kiss tries to deflect attention.
Well-made and sometimes quite dark, No Matter Who explores the difficulties of growing up, internalised homophobia, as well as the sort of dynamics and power-plays within groups that can easily become destructive and potentially dangerous. There’s a slightly Lord Of The Flies feel at times, and unfortunately many will know how easy it can be when you’re young to try to hide your own issues with your sexuality by projecting it onto others with an edge of cruelty.
3.5 out of 5