Article Title:Weekend: Beyond the one night stand
Category:Movies
Author or Credit:Christopher Banks
Published on:13th September 2011 - 01:21 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:10805
Text:Still by Quinnford and Scout At Auckland’s gay film night this month, Number 8 Films presents the award-winning UK film Weekend, about a one-night stand that becomes something more. On a Friday night after hanging out with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a nightclub, alone and on the pull. Just before closing time he picks up Glen. And so begins a weekend – in bars and in bedrooms, getting drunk and taking drugs, telling stories and having sex - that will resonate throughout their lives. The plot sounds unremarkable, but this character-driven piece is what has resonated with viewers around the world, in a rare instance of an intelligent, uncompromising gay film reaching beyond the gay film festival ghetto and into the mainstream. It premiered at the prestigious SXSW Film Festival in Texas earlier this year, winning the Emerging Visions Audience Award. Critics have also been raving, with the New York Times describing it as ‘perfectly realised - a bracing, present-tense exploration of sex, intimacy and love’. Paul Brunick in his review for Film Comment said the film was “a work of surpassing emotional insight and artistic accomplishment. It’s about the human condition and it’s already one of the best of the year”. It’s the second feature from director Andrew Haigh, whose first feature “Greek Pete” played to a sold-out crowd at Auckland’s gay film night in April. Says Haigh, “I wanted to tell an honest, intimate and authentic love story. I wanted to express that feeling of both fear and excitement that comes with the possibility of something new. I wanted to watch these two guys slowly fall for one another, fall for each other’s differences almost as if they were uncovering missing pieces of themselves.” The fly-on-the-wall intimacy is reminiscent of Haigh’s rent boy docu-drama “Greek Pete”, but with artful, crisp cinematography and compositions replacing the cinema verite style of the earlier work. “I wanted to capture those moments that two people share when they truly start to engage with one another, gently focusing in on the struggles at the core of their characters. “Russell and Glen are two people navigating through life in very different ways but both are looking for same thing - to find their place within the world around them. They are trying to work out who they are, what they want and how they should define themselves, in private as well as in public. “Obviously when dealing with two gay characters many of these issues become especially pertinent and it was important to me that I tried to say something truthful about the complexities of the modern gay experience.” Haigh is an editor by trade, having worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as “Gladiator”, so it may come as a surprise that for his own film he keeps to a very minimalist style. “It was vital to me that the performances were natural and so we tried to make everything feel as authentic as possible for the cast. This was helped by certain decisions - such as filming in strict story order and not shooting coverage. “It was a very conscious choice to shoot long takes and one of the advantages of this was that it gave us the freedom to try different things with each take, without worry over matching continuity. I think this helped enormously in creating the naturalism that was essential for the film.” Haigh’s interest in gay stories lies beyond the ‘coming out’ and ‘repressed love’ stories often common in gay cinema. “I wanted to tell a story about how people deal with their sexuality after they come out. I wanted to explore some of the more subtle aspects of the gay experience, especially how people respond to the weight of being different, of not fitting in. “I was interested in whether a person chooses to let their sexuality define them, and if so, then how. I also think that as society has progressed, new concerns and struggles have emerged and I wanted to explore a little of that too. “Of course I think it’s worth saying that you don’t need to be gay to be struggling with issues of authenticity and self-definition, and of course at the heart of ‘Weekend’ is a story of two people falling for each other. This, obviously, has very little to do with being gay.” Weekend is showing at Auckland's Rialto Cinemas at 6.30PM on Thursday 15 September. Ticket details here   Christopher Banks - 13th September 2011    
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