In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of LGBT films that are not only more plentiful, but also of higher quality. Asia has played a significant role in this trend. Despite this, I believe that no other film has been as bold and innovative in both its cinematic style and its depiction of the specific theme as Whammy Alcazaren’s “Bold Eagle”. This 20-minute short has already received acclaim at various international film festivals and is set to be screened at Sundance in 2024.
A man, completely unclothed, sits by the entrance of his small apartment. A talking feline appears and disappears around him. He begins to groom himself and moves about on the ground like a cat. The point of view shifts to mimic that of the cat, followed by a scene where the man is laying on his bed, exposing his naked backside and genitals. Close-up shots reveal various items in the room, such as gay porn magazines, a picture of Jesus, a router, and a stamp collection. A knock on the door interrupts the routine, but the man shows no urgency to answer, hinting at the story taking place during a lockdown. Next, there is a bizarre advertisement showcasing gay porn, political news, and trips to the US, while also playing with the idea of censorship. It becomes clear that the man is a sex worker.
The movie’s attempt to shock through absurdity and occasional crudeness is evident, but director Alcazaren’s true purpose seems to be completely different. The film turns various concepts on their head, including the closing credits which take a literal approach. The American Dream of emigrating to the US and assimilating into American culture, as portrayed in the ads and posters in the film, is a central theme but not the only one. The film also explores the concept of the internet and its pragmatic purpose of serving advertisements, pornography, and cat videos. Alcazaren also plays with the idea of censorship and political correctness. Overall, the film comments on the despair caused by the combination of the internet and capitalism, but it is difficult to discern a clear message amidst the audiovisual overload.
The film often gives the impression of an absurd commercial, utilizing Carlo Francisco Manatad’s editing as the primary method. The sudden cuts and overall fast pace contribute to this effect. Additionally, Peter Aragon’s use of vibrant red and yellow hues enhances this feeling. Meanwhile, Tristan Salas’s cinematography captures both the nudity and other visual elements in an unapologetic manner, perfectly complimenting the film’s overall aesthetic.
I am uncertain of the symbolism of the eagle in this context, but the film is undeniably daring. The combination of elements, including the audiovisual presentation, make “Bold Eagle” worth watching as a truly unique short film.