By Elliot Nash
Two Aussie filmmakers will make their presence known at the 2020 Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Pretty Boy is a poignant new film about a young teen of colour beginning to explore his sexuality in the face of prejudice and indifference from all sides.
Pierce Hadjinicola & Sinclair Suhood, will screen their heartfelt recount of a teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality in the face of a society that does not like “his kind”, and despite his disapproving mother.
Dealing with issues of acceptance, belonging and identity within society, his family and his country, Pretty Boy is cinematographers dream, with eerily lit scenes of a typical rural Australian home juxtaposed alongside the brightly lit interiors of the local RSL.
In a country that still appears to question LGBTQI rights in the public forum, Pretty Boy takes an impactful, yet subtle look at the struggles that face queer Australians, especially those from a minority background.
Playing at Cinema Nova on 14 March, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival will feature a total of 8 films in the Youth Shorts category celebrating “the troubles, the awkwardness and the sometimes hilarity of growing up queer.” This year’s competition also includes entrants from the US, Canada and Israel.
First conceived in August 2018, Pretty Boy was born out of an underlying desire to tell the story of a closeted minority teenager.
For Sinclair, a Sri Lankan bi-sexual 21-year-old, the story was something that terrified him.
“Although I am from a minority background and bi, the character and story are not based upon me. It was more just a story that kind of scared me if it were to happen to me.”
For Pierce it was a challenge in whether or not it was his story to tell as a straight white male.
“How can I possibly understand the adversities of being homosexual in a society that (at the time) deemed it depraved and ‘not normal’ when I am a lifelong straight male?”
The answer: “Google it,” Pierce would say to his teachers when the film was first presented, citing “hundreds upon thousands of stories” detailing this real life struggle.
But to Pierce, Pretty Boy steps beyond just the struggles of sexuality, pointing out that the story is more a struggle against “the painfully judgemental antagonist of the film; his own Mother” rather than just “the failings of a misunderstood society.”
Unlike a lot of filmmakers; however, Sinclair stated his respect for the audience and his willingness to have them come to their conclusions, much like a piece of art in a gallery.
“I don’t like answering those questions in my movies,” said Sinclair.
“I want the audience to decide for themselves.”
Pretty Boy will be playing on Saturday 14 March at Cinema Nova, located in Lygon Court, Carlton.
Starting at 2 pm onwards, this will be a series of films that will undoubtedly inform the public discussion on LGBTQI rights, and help those that are queer or questioning.