NQV is getting ready to unleash its newest shorts series ‘The French Boys’. Starting this week, the series will feature four instalments released over the course of December and January. Casting an expansive spotlight on the realities of queer life in France, the series is a showcase for some of the finest film-making talent in gay cinema and NQV is showing support for those film-makers who may not get the exposure they deserve. The first instalment, ‘The French Boys’, features five shorts and it’s a very strong start to the series.
Opening with Charles Dudoignon-Valade’s ‘So Long, Paris!’, ‘The French Boys’ explores a young child trying to come to terms with her parents divorce as her father tries to find the right way to tell her that he’s gay. The child secretly hopes that her mother and father will eventually reunite but she has no idea that her father has entered into a relationship with another man. The short captures the feelings of confusion that children of divorce have to deal with and the hard realities of coming out later in life.
Second short ‘Freed’ by Josza Anjembe is completely different in tone and takes us inside a prison where 20-year-old Issa (Alassane Diong) discovers he might be about to be released. The only problem is that he’s starting to feel an attraction to new inmate Gaetan (Yoann Zimmer), which threatens to derail his road to freedom. Anjembe focuses on Issa’s battle between his feelings and his freedom, and it’s an interesting take on a gay romance in a prison setting.
Guillaume Mainguet’s ‘Vincent Before Noon’ is one of the highlights of this first collection. Vincent (Mathias Labelle) is visited by his estranged father (Jacques Bonnaffe) while he is in the middle of moving house. What begins as a tense conversation between father and son, soon digs into the years have led them to this point in their relationship. Rarely seeing eye-to-eye, the men have plenty of home truths to share with one another, and it’s a story I’m sure many viewers will be able to relate to.
‘Sunset Cemetery’ by Roman Kane tells the story of Joseph (Quentin Dolmaire), a young man who starts to live his life authentically following the death of his brother. Doing so sees him opening himself up to the possibility of a relationship with another man as he decides to no longer allow life to simply pass him by. It’s a coming-of-age story that really does hit home and the short has a freedom to it that enables you to go along with Joseph’s journey of self-discovery.
The collection comes to a close with ‘Beauty Boys’ by Florent Gouelou, which explores the relationship between teenager Leo (Simon Royer), who has a penchant for drag and make-up, and his older disapproving brother Jules (Marvin Dubart), who is embarrassed by his behaviour. The events unfurl over the course of an evening when Leo is about to perform at a public drag show and tensions flare up, forcing Jules to choose between his family and his friends. This short is a really heart-warming end to the collection, and it highlights how family tend to do the right thing even if they don’t understand the life another member lives.
‘The French Boys’ is a deeply engaging and entertaining collection of shorts. Each of the films here are worthy of inclusion and between them they cover a lot of different ground about the experience of gay men. The point that really drives home from these shorts is that no matter our differences, or where we’re from, many gay men go through the same struggles and encounter the same challenges. Watching how these men deal with life is likely going to help those coming to terms with their own sexuality. As it’s the first in a four instalments, I can’t wait to see where it goes next, and with the bar set so high with ‘The French Boys’, I just hope the series can continue to deliver this level of quality.
Cast: Arthur Igual, Paul Gael Kamilindi, Lucy Pouchoulin, Alassane Diong, Yoann Zimmer, Mathias Labelle Directors: Charles Dudoignon-Valade, Josza Anjembe, Guillaume Mainguet, Roman Kane, Florent Gouelou Certificate: 18 Duration: 100 mins Released by: NQV Media Release date: 3rd December 2021