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DIFF Student Reviews: PRISM Shorts

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5 min

As part of our partnership with the Dublin International Film Festival, several Media students were given the opportunity to screen and review films appearing at the festival. Here, Michelle Kelly reviews the PRISM UK short film collection.

Above all else, the PRISM UK collection is an accessible and varied celebration of human relationships. The leitmotif is love as the films chart the complexities of this universal experience through the lens of the LGBTIQA+ community.

The programme opens with Abel Rubinstein’s playful romp Dungarees. A day in the life of transgender Blake and his boyfriend Cane gives a snapshot of their fun-filled and affectionate alliance as Blake is supported in his struggle to “camp it up” and embrace his femininity.

The next offering, S.A.M, delves headfirst into a challenging exploration of the budding relationship between two teenage Sams - one of whom has Down’s Syndrome and the other an abandoned loner. Each an outcast in their own way, the two find solace swinging together in the local playground as their connection deepens over a few weeks in winter.

In 6:23 AM, Geoffrey Breton introduces us to two young women who have rapidly established an intimate bond over the course of a single night. In the space of just four minutes, it becomes apparent that one has forgotten the other’s name, leading to accelerated declarations of feelings on both parts. Funny and poignant, we are left rooting for the couple as they take their first tentative steps towards love.

Something in the Closet is an original take on a classic “coming out” story. Drawing on her love of Steven Spielberg, the bedroom closet in Nosa Eke’s film is both a space for the angst-ridden teenage protagonist to explore her emerging sexuality and home to a red-eyed monster that stalks her. In internalising the dilemma of her sexual orientation, Eke creatively subverts the traditional portrayal of the queer teenage experience, rendering it all the more relatable and endearing.

A special commendation must go to The Passing, Nichola Wong’s elegiac and haunting tale of lost love and regret. Natalie Radmall-Quirke is elegant and restrained as Yasmine, a mortician wrangling with the pain and grief of discovering a former lover inside the body bag one morning. Wong’s desire for levity is also beautifully executed in the deliberately light-filled flashbacks of young Yasmine and her girlfriend.

The programme finale is Helena Middleton’s tender thought experiment My Mama, A Man in which her own mother discovers what it feels like to become a man for a day. Whilst the film clearly advocates for the freedom to live beyond the confines of societal expectations, it also raises unsettling questions such as why “confidence” is seen as a male prerogative.

The PRISM UK Short Film Programme is a prime example of the unifying power of film. Each of these gems teleports us directly into the different worlds of their diverse characters, transcending pre-conceptions, prejudice, race, age and gender. Sexual orientation is so seamlessly woven into the fabric of the stories that is almost an affront to focus on it. The subtle osmosis is both a fitting tribute to the LGBTIQA+ community and an ode to love in all its guises.

Michelle Kelly is currently studying for a MA in Journalism and Media Communications at Griffith College. She is particularly interested in environmental and social justice issues and has a life-long love of film, books and theatre. Prior to embarking on her master's, Michelle worked as a lawyer for ten years specialising in tax, banking and litigation law.

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