Drama, 15 min
Log line: Set in the midst of the UK’s AID’s crisis, a young lesbian finds herself caring for a dying adversary when everybody else has abandoned him.
with every film comes an opportunity, not only to be entertained but also to be educated and to have our perspectives challenged…
The content of this film touches upon many key issues that not only affect our society but our humanity. Set in 1987 Vauxhall, London, Odd Girls gives audiences a snapshot of how the UK was responding to the HIV/AIDs crisis, as well as how the lesbian community played a vital role in supporting and caring for gay men. As if these messages were not already powerful enough on their own, at the time of writing this review when the world is in a state of disarray due to the Covid19 pandemic, there are parallels here that truly strike a nerve and hit close to home.
The initial idea for the script came from Welsh filmmaker Lauren Faulkner who told writer-director, Ellie Jo Hilton, about the many lesbian women who made huge sacrifices to help gay men with AIDS during the 80’s and 90’s. Then it would seem a huge undertaking went underway as Ashleigh Powell produced the short film with the help of 30 crew and six cast members. Ashleigh said for her “it is not just about the LGBT community; it is a human story that shows how people can care for each other in dark and fearful times, no matter the consequences”.
No one wants to discover that someone they know, whether it be friend or foe, is literally dying in front of them. How would you react in this situation? What could you do? The lead character in this film, Debbie, finds herself in just such a situation, and amidst a world that was churning fear and hate towards HIV/AIDS victims and the gay/lesbian/queer community at large. Under such pressures could she still make the humane decision to comfort David who was all alone and suffering from toxoplasmic encephalitis, brought on by AIDS? Thankfully, yes, and not only that, she also comes to the realisation that when people are dying, their tragedy is as much a fight you should be involved with as matters of your own. This raises the question that if you don’t speak up for people who are in dire need of being heard, can you live with that hypocrisy? Why should people listen to your issues if you cannot embrace those of others?
Whilst the actual plot of this film felt somewhat basic without much character build up or development, there is no doubt that the implications and underlying messages were very poignant and insightful. For sure one of the toughest challenges for short films is to not only grab your attention with a core theme, but to make the idea impactful. Odd Girls does just that. The intent and passion behind making this film can be heard throughout all the people involved. Ellie said her “aim with the film is to create a piece of work that not only informs the audience about the past, but that also resonates with them and opens people’s minds to a new perspective”. Sound recordist for the film, Samuel Elphick-John, said he was “honoured to be working on Odd Girls as he felt the film is as important now as it would have been in the 80s.”
My biggest qualm with the film would be its name—I feel the words “Odd Girls” neither portray what the film entails nor do the women justice by calling them ‘odd’. In any case, I hope that potential viewers will be able to overlook the title and not be put off by the heaviness of the matters outlined to still give this film a watch. The story of how lesbians formed a united front to help gays at this crucial moment in history is unique and moving, as well as holding many important messages that the world clearly needs to hear even decades on. One of the standout lines from this film is ‘Don’t die of ignorance’, and much like how people were quick to judge and make assumptions about HIV/AIDS back then, ignorance is definitely still plaguing our world today.
Janet Njau, who was Co-Producer and 1st AD for Odd Girls said “It’s a film about love for humankind; love that looks beyond physical faults.” She was confident that “this film has the potential to change mind-sets of people all around the world; teaching them to spread love and put their differences aside.” I believe that with every film comes an opportunity, not only to be entertained but also to be educated and to have our perspectives challenged. Despite being just 15min long, I applaud Odd Girls for having the audacity and ambition to bring these much-needed messages to viewers. Ready to watch? Odd Girls is available on Lesflicks VOD now!
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This article was written by:
Reviewer & Writer
Ping believes in the power of love and kindness, and that "love is love" no matter what shape or form it comes in. She would like to see positive representation for all walks of life in film and media.