Last Sunday I had the honour of attending the UK premiere of the Belgian film North Sea Texas – directed by Bavo Defurne, and selected as the closing film at the 2012 BFI Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. It’s a beautiful tale of teenager Pim, whose youthful affair with his neighbour Gino becomes a painful unrequited love as the pair grow up.
The setting is a rural Belgian town in the 1970s, which is so far removed from the real world, that there’s a distinct sense that Pim’s love for Gino really is all he has to bother him….but for any young gay teenager who’s ever fallen in love with a handsome straight boy, that is fairly often the case. His neglectful mother and her escapades offer a comic subplot to the narrative, and if you want to dig deep there is a lot to be said for absent fathers in the two families involved. The most poignant moment comes when Gino’s mother joins the hands of the two boys on her deathbed – signalling her silent understanding that they should be together.
A special mention must go to Anton Merton’s cinematography which makes colour into one of the film’s main characters. From vibrant yellow clothing to the perfectly captured textures of the rural landscapes, this is a story with a backdrop as beautiful as its main narrative.
The evening ended in a Q&A session with director Bavo Defurne (who looked wonderful in a white Tom Ford suit), who was thrilled to have this – his first feature film – gain such a positive reception, after years of making shorts (some of which you can preview on his Vimeo page). He’s got an undeniable style of his own, and North Sea Texas shows an incredible capacity to lay an emotional journey so bare and so honest, that even amidst such an obscure setting, most of the audience could relate their own experience to that undergone by Pim.
North Sea Texas is released in UK cinemas on April 6.