New to Dekkoo this week:
Narrated by Zachary Quinto, the riveting new documentary Conversion takes a look at the history of gay conversion therapy and two men who bravely stood up against it.
The film tells the story of how these two unlikely friends — straight psychologist Gerald Davison and gay activist Charles Silverstein — changed the psychology world for the better after first crossing paths 50 years ago at a Behavioral Therapies Convention in New York City.
While Davison had been deeply involved in a practice dubbed “Playboy Therapy,” wherein he would attempt to teach gay men how to be straight, his first meeting with Silverstein proved eye-opening.
After what Davison dubs “an intellectual and emotional epiphany,” the men started speaking out against such practices, still quite common at the time, leading to an eventful moment when Davison presented his case at a national convention to over 1,000 peers.
This new film celebrates their courage and activism while also examining their moving 50-year friendship.
The Act is a stylish new 18-minute short from Thomas Hescott, a veteran director of the long-running British soap opera “EastEnders.”
The film follows the story of a young gay man named Matthews, played by Samuel Barnett, who believes that love is not, and cannot ever be, for him. That is, until he encounters the alluring Jimmy, played by Simon Lennon.
Set in 1965, just as acts of male homosexuality were about to be decriminalized in the UK, Matthews goes on quite a journey, discovering love, sex and a whole new chosen family in the backstreets and underground bars of Soho.
Speaking about The Act, Thomas Hescott said that the initial premise for the film was simple. Growing up, he never saw queer characters properly portrayed in period dramas. This new film is his attempt to tell a classic Hollywood love story with two gay men – a period drama wherein the characters that usually remain hidden start to emerge from the shadows.
The Act creates a world that juxtaposes the rigid conformity of mid-60s British society with the color and energy of an underground world and the intimacy and immediacy of a passionate relationship that would have been considered illicit at the time. The film also uses language taken directly from the 1965 House of Commons debates to frame the central love story.
Manu Roma is an up-and-coming filmmaker from Barcelona who uses his work to tell personal queer stories. To give you a strong sense of his burgeoning talent, we have collected his first three short films, all made over the past three years.
First up is Bones, a 9-minute film about Victor, a 20-year-old with two immediate goals: to lose his virginity and, more dangerously, lose as much weight as possible before his 21st birthday.
Shot gorgeously in black and white, Roma’s next short, the 19-minute Anonymous, uses a first-person perspective to tell the stories of three men who go cruising for sex in different locations around Barcelona.
The final film, The Virgins, is a 13-minute slice of meta-fiction about the making of a short film. When the two stars of a new movie drop out at the last minute, the director and his boom operator find themselves taking over the lead roles and going to unexpected romantic lengths to tell their story.
A visionary filmmaker worth keeping your eye on, Dekkoo is proud to bring the work of Manu Roma to American audiences.
From Taiwanese director Szu-Wei Chen, Jay is a darkly funny and casually disturbing 14-minute drama that isn’t afraid to explore a particularly cringe-worthy taboo.
The film follows the titular character, a mysterious 13-year-old boy Jay, played by Nick Wang. Reaching a pivotal moment of sexual awakening, the teen finds himself suddenly fascinated by his toned and attractive older brother. Spying on him at every opportunity, including during a sexual encounter with a girlfriend, Jay’s curiosity morphs into an all-consuming obsession.
Playing out with very little dialog, the film gets its point across mostly through eerie suggestion. The story plays out mostly through visuals and emotions thanks to Wang’s lead performance – which, while somewhat stoic, conveys everything we need to know about this youngster’s misguided affections.
From Romanian writer-director Dan Chisu, 5 Minutes Too Late is a gripping drama based on true events.
A cinema in Bucharest screening a controversial film about a lesbian couple becomes the epicenter of a radical, far-right, anti-gay protest. During the incident, a young man is physically attacked and brought to the hospital in a coma.
Complicating matters are inconsistencies in the police reports, in which they claim the attack on the young man took place before their arrival. The accuracy of their claim is called into question when security footage shows the ambulance arriving after the police, and leaked footage belonging to a bystander reveals the captain making homophobic comments to one of the anti-gay protesters.
A battle over competing narratives ensues between the stubborn, arrogant captain and an equally stubborn, idealistic investigative reporter who is just looking to unveil the truth.
As each party attempts to gain the upper hand over the public narrative, the officer and the reporter engage in questionable tactics in an effort to thwart each other. Meanwhile, a young man clinging to life becomes increasingly forgotten amid their political struggle.
Dedalus is a fictional triptych portraying community, love and loss.
In rural Iowa, a grocery cashier watches helplessly as classmates conceal their act of sexual violence against his teenaged step-sister.
In another story, a hustler sells his body for food, shelter and intimacy during a harsh winter in New York City. A young woman takes him in, but nothing satiates his unrequited love for an older gay client.
In the third story, mortality compels a father to leave his home in Los Angeles and move in with his daughter.
Director Jonah Greenstein’s gorgeously shot new feature debut laces loneliness with beauty to create a film of startling cinematic intimacy.
Two young men fall in love under harsh circumstances in the moving new romance On the Fringe of Wild.
Harrison Browne stars as Peter, a teenager who dreams of leaving his small Ontario town to pursue life as an artist, but his homophobic father, played by Andrew Bee, insists on turning him into “a man.” Sending him on a hunting trip one cold winter break, tensions run high and Peter runs away.
Lost, cold and reaching his breaking point, Peter meets another young man named Jack, played by Cameron Stewart. Jack is also desperate to escape his toxic family situation. A romance quickly develops between the two boys as they hide away in a secluded cabin, discovering one another and themselves. But the world outside eventually pulls them back and they’re soon stuck facing the circumstances they tried so desperately to flee.
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet and set in the early 2000s, On the Fringe of Wild offers up an early 21st Century snapshot of queer adolescent boys on the verge of growing up into men and discovering their authentic selves. The film was shot in rural regions of Northern Ontario, Canada, mostly outdoors amongst the beautiful, but cold, stark and melancholic winter landscapes.