A new wave of directors are choosing to reject stereotypical roles and predictable plots by creating films that deal with real life scenarios, claims British newspaper The Guardian.
It highlights Ira Sach’s new film, Keep the Lights On, which follows the 10 year relationship between two men that meet on a New York phone-sex line in 1998.
It includes explicit sex, drugs, domestic squabbles, quotidian work hassles and meals with friends, both straight and gay.
No one dies and everything is shown with the same simple transparency.
In an interview with The Guardian, Sach said: ‘I feel very few films convey the communal nature of urban life these days, the lack of boundaries.’
‘Those are the gays over there – that’s not how we live anymore.’
Like several other recent features about gay characters by gay directors, Keep the Lights On, depicts naturalism.
Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, released last year to widespread acclaim, was fairly similar with its story of two guys hanging out after meeting in a Nottingham club.
And Travis Mathews’ forthcoming movie, I Want Your Love, explores an artist in his 20s’ social circle in a comparable style, which is said to welcome a shift in queer cinema with its powerful mode.
Substantial representations of unambiguous gay characters were rare on film before the 1980s and in the 1990s, reality stabilised thanks to breakthroughs in AIDS treatment and progress in legal recognition.
Political and aesthetic sensibilities began to take a back seat to story and character and challenges such as being openly gay or dealing with HIV, though still present, were more readily absorbed into conventional film-making.
‘You can look at queer film-making in the past 20 years and say we often reverted to using metaphor as a way of telling our stories and avoided the stories themselves,’ adds Sachs as he has done the opposite.
Keep the Lights On is autobiographical, as it revisits the relationship between Sachs and his former partner, a crack-addicted book editor.
‘I wanted to invert the secretive nature of the story by making a film that was very open.’
These passionate and talented film-makers seek to describe the experience of being gay today through stories that resonate beyond that context.
In these uncertain times for both cinema as an art form and homosexuality in mainstream culture, it is heartening to see ambitious film-makers embracing the real.
Haigh said: ‘We’re not afraid now to tell stories about flawed gay individuals who are fully rounded characters and just as fucked up about life as everyone else.’
Keep the Lights On is at the London film festival on 16 and 17 October and is released in the UK on 2 November.
Weekend is out on DVD and Blu-ray and I Want Your Love will be released next year.