Writer and director Farbod Khoshtinat’s short film Two Little Boys is no Love, Simon. The powerful short focuses on a closeted boy who chooses violence over truth in the highly sexually charged thriller.
It’s the film’s verisimilitude and the feeling that the entirety of the 13 minute experience unravels in near real time that makes it difficult to forget.
And it offers no easy answers moral or otherwise.
When faced in the bathroom by his tormentor, 16 year-old Tyler doubles down on a lie that he’s leaked to provoke any attention from Josh, saying that he told the principal that he’d raped him. The ensuing sadism looks like a scene from a brutal BDSM porn and I found my mind racing for a character identify with while being viscerally titillated by a very fucked up scene.
This topical short screened at the 2020 Brooklyn Film Festival and was also screened as a finalist at the 2020 Manhattan Short Film Festival in September.
LA Based Iranian director Farbid Khoshtinat says the short was inspired by a true story, “You could say,” he says, “It is inspired my own childhood, by my own experiences back in my home country Iran. So I took the core feelings of emotions and the core events it and I kind of re made it into an American Society, and American high school.”
Photo above: Farbid Khoshtinat
What Khoshtinat tried to distill into the short was the intensity of the trauma he experienced over a longer duration but is no less harmful. “Yeah. I mean, I’ve been bullied a fair amount back in my own days when I was in high school, and I should think, I mean I think just the fear of it, I think it kind of comes from the same place. That the fear is kind of real and some people, some people kind of, they made it. It’s like why Jordan Peele got behind Get Out and how it deconstructed racism while still being an intense thriller— you want to make that into a horror thriller. I just kinda did the same thing for homophobia.”
He says that the fear you feel is definitely real, even “the actor who we chose for the role who gets bullied, I wanted to make sure I had someone you know, who could bring this out of their own. Not just acting, who had similar experiences. He has been bullied a lot. He really fit into character and he often has to reenact the character. And I wanted to make sure my actors are really portraying the characters naturally. It was a lot of work. It was a lot of practice.”
Part of Khoshtinat’s film making style is that he feels comfortable making a scene happen in a real time. “Basically whatever happens in the 13 minutes on the movie should be happening in the 13 minutes of the real time. That’s a very immersive experience. It creates a cinematic experience to kind of be there with the actors in real time instead of just passing through the scene. Because the tension is real throughout the few minutes between the characters. It fits better. Almost kind of like a documentary drama. The way I kind of shot it with the handheld, with the minimal lighting. I used all the lighting of the high school on the set. And also the same with the characters I think, you know with the script it reads the same way. My whole point was to get the same feeling, to transform 100% of what was in the script into the film. I think that the characters were really clear and I think that comes really because they were based from my experiences in my childhood and that’s why there’s a lot of truth in that. And the tensions that is between these kids I think is part real because they both have a lot on the line. The stakes are very high for both of them and you can’t really blame and I’m not trying to take sides. That’s why it’s hard to say who is the real main character for a lot of people because it’s kind of split between the two people and they both have their own reasons for doing what they are doing. Which again I’m Iranian, and a lot of it is coming from Iranian cinema. That aspect of it.”
Two Little Boys is screening at the Oscar qualifying Nashville Film Festival, the International Short Film Festival of Cyprus and at Ireland’s Kerry International Film Festival through the end of October and the Norwich Film Festival in November. You can watch any of the screenings at individual festival sites although Khoshtinat says that, “once our whole festival run is over, I’m not gonna…a lot of people are asking if I’m going to talk to Amazon or Netflix because they get these short films and distribute it. But I just want to put it on YouTube and make sure that everyone can see it without having to pay anything, or the easiest way possible.”
Watch the trailer below.