Mates was an impressive short film featured in the 2012 GAZE film festival. Its creator, Antonio Da Silva, blurred the lines between pornography and narrative. Mates captured the essence of the anonymous hook-up made possible by the likes of the website Gaydar and apps such as Grindr.
“Hi mate” greets us in blue text, a friendly beginning. “Hi” is the reply. The conversation develops in Grindr cliches before pics are swapped. A flurry images of follows in increasing speed and with men in decreasing states of attire. Soon, snaps of bare chests and erect penises are interspersed with questions such as “What u into?” The men in the pictures are all different, but nobody’s face appears.
Da Silva filmed friends and buddies arriving at each other’s places, kissing, stripping and engaging in foreplay, again shooting from the neck down. Various pleasure seekers lose their business suits, sports gear, casual wear. Unbuckling belts, heavy breathing and the sounds of sucking and fucking fill the soundtrack, complemented by an anonymous dance beat.
A television screen appears in one room. Scenes from Prince William’s wedding and the public enthusiasm for the event appear. However, gay sex takes centre stage as commentators on the wedding are censored. Da Silva blacks out their eyes and mouths, even those of His and now Her Royal Highness. A middle-aged woman exclaims, “This is what’s best about Britain!”
Da Silva immediately cuts to men engaged in anal sex, groaning in different positions in different venues with different participants. He turns on its head on taboo and the censorship of gay sex, contrasting it with the ostentatious displays of venerable British traditions – royalty, marriage, family. He makes it graphic and explicit. His faceless characters cum, get dressed again and depart. Their encounters end.
Da Silva’s cleverly distils the essence of a cultural phenomenon in a perfect and bold blend of form and content.