11 Queer Short Films That Ruled This Year’s SXSW Film Festival
While feature films might have stolen most of the headlines at the 2022 SXSW film festival, LGBTQ+ lives shone in the shorts. Stories and filmmakers from around the globe highlighted our struggles, hearts, and fantasies. Here are 11 to keep your eye out for.
‘All the Crows in the World’ directed by Tang Yi
A quirky and surrealistic comedy, All the Crows in the World follows the journey of 18-year-old student Shengnan when she's invited by a cousin to a mysterious party. Shengnan quickly finds herself surrounded by leering middle-aged men who push the boundaries with her in increasingly uncomfortable ways. There's one exception in the crowd: Jianguo, a quiet man who's respectful, if a bit withdrawn. Over the course of the night, the two bond and break with the rest of the group for an adventure (and a quick-yet-fabulous dance number) of their own, complete with a queer reveal. It's eccentric, charming, and not to be missed.
‘Clare’ directed by Lauren Minnerath
Clare is a young student who catches sight of her teacher, Mrs. Larsson, secretly crying in a locker room, and reaches out to her to comfort her. It quickly becomes clear that their connection is deeper than that of your average teacher and student. Directed by Lauren Minnerath, Clare feels like a proof-of-concept short for a truly compelling coming-of-age story as well as complex portrayal of an inappropriate (to put it mildly) connection between student and teacher -- because, apparently, it is. Minnerath is currently developing her first feature film by the same name.
‘Don't Go Where I Can't Find You’ directed by Rioghnach Ni Ghrioghair
Following the shocking, accidental death of her partner, renowned composer Margaret begins to suspect that she's not alone in her home -- so she starts composing new music she hopes will connect her with her lost love beyond the veil. Lush and atmospheric, Don't Go Where I Can't Find You is a chilling love story full of passion and pathos.
‘For Love’ directed by Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor
Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor's For Love is a beautiful queer love story set against the backdrop of illegal immigration. Nkechi is an undocumented immigrant living in London with her girlfriend, Martha, and their friends. A surprise raid causes Nkechi to question living in secret and she decides it's time to take some serious (and potentially dangerous) action to change it. On the eve of turning Nkechi and herself in, and with their lives together on the line, Martha decides it's time for a big gesture to affirm their love.
‘Gay Haircut’ directed by Jude Harris
In this irreverent and joyful short, comic Krista has a new girlfriend, her first since college, and realizing that all her dick jokes no longer work (at least without becoming problematic), she needs a rebrand. Step one is a new look; specifically, she needs a gay haircut from the elusive stylist Svengali, Zacharias. She has no idea what she's in for when she sits down in the stylist's chair. The audience, however, is in for a great time with this amusing and breezy film.
‘Homesick’ directed by Will Seefried
Recapturing one's youth takes a bizarre turn in Homesick, a queer-inclusive short about a man whose craving for a happy childhood sees him attending a "retreat" that will help re-create that -- complete with rebirth (literally). It's absurd, melancholy, and uncomfortable in all the best ways.
‘Monsieur Le Butch’ directed by Jude Dry
Jude Dry's Monsieur Le Butch is an intimate snapshot of a moment in their relationship with their mother during a time when they unexpectedly had to move back home in their 30s. The two discuss gender, generational traumas, and haircuts. It's vulnerable, raw, and the kind of conversation any audience member can identify with in spirit, even if Dry's story is not exactly their own.
‘Tank Fairy’ directed by Erich Rettstadt
This charming, odd, and deeply heartwarming short directed by out queer filmmaker Erich Rettstadt is a rainbow-hued fever dream of the best kind. A take on the Cinderella story, Tank Fairy sees a young queer kid named Jojo trying to find his place and acceptance from family and friends. Enter his Tank Fairy Godmother (a "song wa si de"), which in Taiwan are the workers who routinely supply gas tanks to street vendors and old residential buildings. Here the Tank Fairy offers Jojo a glance at the glamorous possibilities at his fingertips if he accepts who he is: a baby drag queen. It's an irresistible bubblegum confection of a short.
‘Too Rough’ directed by Sean Lionadh
Nick, a young gay man, unexpectedly wakes up next to his boyfriend, Charlie, after a night of partying. He's horrified to realize they slept through to the morning and now he has to hide Charlie from his homophobic and abusive family. The tension is palpable as Nick's terror at the possibility of being discovered permeates the first half of this short. Revelations about his family life and Charlie's empathetic and loving response turn the film into a heartfelt and poignant experience that resonates long after the credits roll.
‘Warsha’ directed by Dania Bdeir
In Warsha, Syrian migrant Mohammed is working as a crane operator in Beirut. When another crane operator goes missing, he volunteers to take their job on a notoriously dangerous crane. He's filled with terror at first as he steps out on the shaking arm of the crane, which towers above the city. However, his fear is soon replaced with a sense of true freedom as he looks out at the city stretching below him. Like a phoenix, he rises above it, transcending everything -- including gender. It's incredibly beautiful, both literally and metaphorically, and writer-director Dania Bdeir has created a truly singular short in Warsha.
‘West by God’ directed by Scott Lazer
Starring trans actor Aphrodite Armstrong as Nelly, this slice-of-life short follows a young girl on her first date with the local drug dealer, Dane. The two go for a car ride and get to know one another, and Dane reveals a surprisingly vulnerable side to Nelly. It captures the trepidation and excitement of those early moments of attraction, equal parts dialogue and meaningful silences, beautifully.