Bender, directed by Alex Cardy (who is the film’s cinematographer), is an Australian short film that takes place the night before the Marriage Equality decision in Australia. The premise is a hook up in a car that takes place in the middle of nowhere, the car breaks down and the two must wait it out for help to arrive. The short film is a bold and beautiful dive into sexuality, gender and society that is one of the most memorable things I have seen in a long time.
Performances from the three cast members involved; Lucas Pittaway, Josh Lavery and Matt Hickmott are incredible. The main character (Skinhead) showcases his connection with his body and effortlessly portrays the dark, moody tones required to tell the tale, a reflection of the current time that the three live in.
I have to talk about the cinematography. It is gorgeous, dripping with a dark and brooding tone that is matched by the on screen performances from the incredibly talented cast who don’t have all that much to say, allowing their bodies and expressions to fill in the gaps when dialogue isn’t happening. It is a really difficult thing to get right and Bender delivers this perfectly.
The camera slowly pans and swoops around the environment, throwing in shades of black, blue and grey. I have seen a lot of sex scenes in films over the years and it is with no hesitation that I say that Bender has the best sex scene I have seen. The opening scene of fellatio in a city apartment right up against the glass windows is evocative, there is a dirtiness to it but it does feel tender and realistic. The contrast to the hard pounding that the skinhead receives is filmed from both perspectives and shines a light on an area of same sex well and in a way that we don’t often see portrayed realistically in film.
My main concern with this film is that it wasn’t long enough. The final frame is powerful and had me questioning on what happened next. Will they be rescued soon? Do they end up staying together and then getting married? There are so many unanswered questions that I will be pondering for quite some time. While I am slightly dissatisfied that these questions will probably never be answered, I can take solace in the fact that this type of film is getting made and seen.
Bender is bold, stunning, and concise. There is a lot to be said in fifteen minutes; a lot of questions, not a lot of answers, and exactly how this film should be. The team behind this are clearly masters of their craft and I cannot wait to see what they do next.
Bender is screening online for free as part of the St Kilda Film Festival until the 20th of June. For more information visit: https://www.stkildafilmfestival.com.au