Midnight Rhythms. Courtesy Film Freeway

First kisses, last goodbyes, and laundry detergent—the PrideArts Spring Film Fest has it all. This is the final of four curated weeks in the festival, and PrideArts finishes things off by showcasing touching connections, tragic losses, and lighthearted shenanigans in five short films. 

In Ian Graham’s Until Tomorrow, a college student (Keaton Moore) is stuck in a time loop, destined to relive the same subpar party again and again. How do we know? He explains his predicament to fellow partygoer and love interest Ansel (Shane Steinman) within the first 30 seconds of the film. Aside from the tendency to tell, not show, this feature packs a punch with its queer spin on the Groundhog Day trope we’ve seen time and time again. 

Part music video, part poem, Quincy Woo’s Midnight Rhythms is all emotion. The leads don masks, attend a ball, and mourn at a funeral as the narrator recounts the alienation, self-sabotage, and shame that accompanies his queer experience. Drifting from one kaleidoscopic space to the next, we follow Hero (Riku Toyohara) as he struggles to accept his feelings for his Lover (Nathanael Ayers). But the real star is Casey Hastings—the film’s production and costume design is at once modern and nostalgic, breathtaking and mesmerizing. Midnight Rhythms is a love letter to both the city and the deep feeling it houses. 

Electricity, Aaron Schoonover’s slice-of-life romance, follows old friends Ethan (Michael Judson Berry) and Adrian (Dylan Adler) as they reconnect after Ethan’s breakup. A summer blackout provides the perfect opportunity to get closer and serve “butch queen, first time in power outage” realness. Berry and Adler’s onscreen chemistry is undeniable, and the film captures the warmth of catching up with old friends (or old flings). This is the soft queer content we all need in our lives. 

The warm fuzzies continue with Diane Malherbe’s La Lavadora (The Washing Machine), a colorful short exploring sexual fluidity and fun. Quick pacing and lack of dialogue give the feature a surreal “silent film” quality, but The Washing Machine is anything but old-fashioned; as the laundry spins away, its owner (Alberto Molinero) daydreams about encounters with men, women, and everyone in between. Pro tip: don’t ignore the washing instructions (the credits)!

As comedienne Lady Lin (Wu Jiahui) peeks from behind the curtain and tiptoes onto the stage, we have unwittingly become audience members observing her clownish act. She pantomimes undoing the fly of her pants, and relieving herself at a urinal, her microphone doubling as a phallus. She pulls down an invisible pair of women’s underwear and squats at a make-believe toilet. Is this comedy, or a reenactment of everyday mundanities? Are we meant to feel uncomfortable? To snicker? To laugh? How much of Lady Lin’s act is a performance? Badou Zhao’s Truthless challenges us to ponder the contexts in which transgender individuals are allowed to exist. Onstage, Yuezhen “Jen” Lin is applauded; outside the theater, she is mocked and harassed, deadnamed and disowned. Her everyday struggles are interwoven with snippets of film that document a happier time, one in which she lives unabashedly. Is it the future, or just a dream? 

The PrideArts Spring Film Fest ends on a serious note with Private Life, Aleksei Borovikov’s short film inspired by an actual hate crime. Conflicted about his father’s death and suspicious of his partner’s fidelity, photographer Eric (Kevin Joy) follows his boyfriend Chris (Joe Regelbrugge) to the mountains searching for answers. What he finds is compassion and companionship, followed immediately by tragedy—this gory scene is not for the faint of heart. While its abrupt ending leaves something to be desired, Private Life is a heartbreaking tale of love and loss. 

The PrideArts Spring Film Fest week four shorts will stream from April 5 to 11, but catch more documentary content through the end of the festival on May 1. Get tickets here.