When it comes to friendships between gay and straight men in movies, you know the tropes. They usually lead to one of two things: The gay man gets rejected, his love left unrequited, or—surprise!—the straight one was gay all along.
But reality isn’t always so black-and-white, and, sometimes, things are left to linger. That in-between space is sensitively explored in the gorgeous short film, Catalina, about a gay man who reunites with his (straight) childhood BFFs for an island getaway, and finds himself tip-toeing around the boundaries of their intimate connection.
The film comes from director Tyler Rabinowitz (See You Soon, producer on The Mess He Made and Lavender), and was written by Sam DiGiovanni, who also stars as Gus. Ready to embark on a camping trip with his two pals—the newly single Will (Ronald Peet) and the soon-to-be-married Brian (Ben Holtzmuller)—it’s hinted that Gus has some long-held feelings for Will. But they’ve been friends forever, so Gus tries to push those aside and enjoy their boys weekend on the eponymous Catalina Island.
As the guys soak up the sun, Catalina invites its viewers along for the trip, letting us bask in the stunning scenery and hang on every glance, every touch between Gus and Will. Are we imagining things, or is there a deeper spark between them? Their sleeping bags are pretty close to one another…
Speaking with Short Of The Week, DiGiovanni shares that the short was inspired by trips from his past, ones in which the close bonds of connection blurred the lines between friends and something more.
“I’ve joked before that, if you’re a male-identifying person, you have probably struggled with male intimacy in one way or another,” he says. “Not necessarily sexual intimacy but platonic, emotional, or physical intimacy, too. And so with Catalina, I not only wanted to explore the friendship dynamic between a gay man and a straight man but also what happens when friends decide to push through those boundaries and explore beyond the traditional boundaries of ‘friendship’.”
The film’s alluring slow-burn is complimented by its dreamlike cinematography, and a score and original music by award-winning songwriter Leland (who’s written for artist like Selena Gomez and Troye Sivan, and has been one of the musical masterminds behind RuPaul’s Drag Race for years now).
Catalina made its official bow earlier this yer at Outfest in Los Angeles, and is available to stream for free this week thanks to the short film launchpad, Short Of The Week, which hails the film’s intimate atmosphere and striking imagery: “The setting may steal certain scenes, but ultimately Rabinowitz always brings it back to the humans at the core of the story, as they are the vital heart and soul in the film’s success.”
You can watch the film on Short Of The Week’s Shortverse platform, or on their YouTube channel below: