Do you ever get the feeling that the safe sex message has all but become a distant voice of yesteryear? Well if you do, then you’re not alone, for here the boys behind the powerful, if controversial features Shank and Release have gone out of their way to remind the youth of today of this critical message, one that clearly needs to be repeatedly voiced aloud.
Only the star of the show seemingly doesn’t need a lecture on safe sex. Or so he thinks, given this is a young man wise enough to pack a condom in his wallet when he, alongside his best friend and girl about town Jess head off for a fun night out clubbing, end-of-exams style. Yet the fun that lies in store for this gay cutie is more of the physical kind, by way of a smooth operator all too eager to give him every inch of his being. Only in the light of day after the night before, the error of his unprotected ways lies in a piece of unused rubber.
For that is the crucial point that this well-executed short is making. For condoms are useless, UNLESS USED. That this young man had the means of protection in his pocket, but opted not to use it, underlines the shocking fact that 6,630 people in total in the UK, across all ages and sexual orientations, were diagnosed HIV positive in 2009.
Yet in a work in which the safe sex message is the dominant theme, director and man of many talents Jack O’Dowd, together with writers Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin equally spin an adolescent yarn in which coming out is refreshingly not an issue. For this is a son openly gay to his mother and to the world, sexual acceptance that gives way to some beautiful PRIDE moments. All of which gives added poignancy to the bittersweet scenes that contrast a loving mother anxiously awaiting news of her sons’ exam results, whilst her son nervously awaits a test result of his own making.
Only and in spite of its heartfelt theme, this telling tale sadly marks yet another British gay film that and for reasons best known to the powers that be, won’t be screened at this years’ London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, having bit the festival dust in its home country like all too many captivating UK based features I could name. And here you cannot help but wonder why? That it highlights the ramifications of casting caution to the wind, as reflective in the alarming statistic that one male under the age of 25 does so in the UK, every 27 hours with HIV positive consequences, makes it a work that all too tragically is based on a true story. Entertaining, yet cautionary in equal measure and frankly a short film that should be required viewing. Need more be said? (Gaycelluloid.com)