5

Queer Sport Films

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

Ah, Sports. A form of entertainment & exercise that has long had issues with the queer community due to the masculine-driven, homophobic nature of team sports. In fact, that’s something that four of this month’s films specifically address. There’s a delicate balance, almost a juxtaposition, because team sports, the locker rooms situation, and of course, group showers, that fuel both our sports-related fantasies yet equally creates a hostile, unwelcoming environment. Many queer youth often struggle with gym and sports growing up. They don’t feel welcome because the boys aren’t “manly enough”, or girls aren’t welcome in certain sports reserved for men, and so many other reasons.

 

All of this month’s Queer Sport Films deal with these topics in unique ways. “Shelter” is one of my favourite films ever – and it’s not just because both boys are sexy surfers! “Eleven Men Out”, “Mario”, and “Guys And Balls (Männer wie wir)” all handle the difficult topic of coming out while playing on sports teams. “Guys And Balls (Männer wie wir)” takes it from a comedic viewpoint, while the other two queer sport coming out films dig deeper into the darker arena of homophobia and reject in professional sports. The last film simply takes sport stereotypes and turns them upside down – and it’s a biopic based on the real life story of trans Muay Thai boxer, Nong Toom.

 

Don’t worry, it’s not all serious and there’s plenty of shower scenes to tease the sports fantasy lovers among us! However, all five of these Queer Sport films are incredible assets to the Queer film oeuvre. Though most of this month’s films are foreign (sorry for those of us who speak English!), they are all worth watching for the important stories that they recount.

 

Discover more about each film, and let me know which one is your favourite Queer Sport Film!

 

[Note: Not all of these films have full reviews yet – but they’re added to the quickly growing list of films I plan to tackle soon!]

1

Shelter

Forced to give up his dreams of art school, Zach (Trevor Wright) spends his days working a dead-end job and helping his needy sister (Tina Holmes) care for her son. In his free time he surfs, draws and hangs out with his best friend, Gabe (Ross Thomas), who lives on the wealthy side of town. When Gabe’s older brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), returns home, he is drawn to Zach’s selflessness and talent. Zach falls in love with Shaun while struggling to reconcile his own desires with the needs of his family.

 

When I first watched Shelter years ago, I loved it! Zach and Shaun are atypical gay men, focused more on their surfing and just surviving rather than the latest fashion or other stereotypical trends. Heck, Zach doesn’t even realise his sexuality is different until hanging out with Shaun bings the suppressed feelings out. Their first kiss is relaxed and very natural, but there is quite a raw passion when Zach fully embraces his attraction to Shaun. Both actors (both straight) do a great job of bringing their characters to life – along with some neat surfing! There’s equally a rawness with Zach’s sister and nephew; the troubles of being poor and struggling contrast with Shaun’s richer upbringing. I also absolutely LOVE the soundtrack – it’s one of few I own!  If you haven’t seen “Shelter” yet, find yourself a copy of this queer sport film today.

2

Eleven Men Out

The star player of Icelands top football team (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) causes a stir when he admits to being gay to his team mates and then goes on a journey to discover himself (with the help of the local press). He soon finds himself on the bench for most of his teams matches and decides to call it quits and join a small amateur team made up of men like himself – gay guys trying to play football in a straight world of Icelandic fishing culture machoism.

 

I’m on the fence about “Eleven Men Out”. Underneath the surface of this queer sport film, there is an interesting and novel plot surrounding a professional football player coming out. But there is a lack of focus as the film jumps from person to person; they dig into how everyone deals with it. Yet it’s almost as if they are trying to cover too much in this queer sport film. With cinematography & editing that juts back and forth, it’s not the easiest film to follow – and I won’t even touch on the anti-climatic ending that left me disappointed. But it’s not all bad! Most of the cast are decent, even if they aren’t really known outside of Iceland. Equally great to see an Icelandic film reach a broader international audience. While there may be a few better options within the queer sport genre, I still encourage you to watch “Eleven Men Out”. Despite the weak areas, it’s a decent film that addresses coming out in sports.

3

Mario

There’s a ripple of disquiet in the locker-room when Leon (Aaron Altaras), a new striker, joins the soccer team. Sharing a flat with keen rival Mario (Max Hubacher) sets the scene for an unexpected love affair, but the path of gay love in this macho world is not an easy one. Mario is unwilling or unable to acknowledge the implications of what is happening. But pretend girlfriends don’t fool everyone.

 

“Mario” has long been on my list of queer films to watch. Having to focus on subtitles didn’t help, but I wish I had watched this queer sport film years ago! With excellent cinematographic work and a keen eye editing, Director & Co-Writer Marcel Gisler takes us on an emotional journey into the realm of homophobia in the sports clubs. Unfortunately, the storyline is still too common today as openly gay athletes are not yet fully welcome in professional sports. However, the evocative acting of this superb cast brings out a range of emotions that is simply powerful to watch. If you haven’t yet seen, “Mario” – go watch it today! (And keep your eyes peeled, “Mario” has been moved up on my list of queer films to review).

4

Guys And Balls

After his homophobic teammates cut him from their ranks, a soccer player (Maximilian Brückner) vows to assemble an all-gay squad within a month. With the help of his sister (Eileen Eilender) and a former star, he prepares a lineup full of misfits to take on his former associates in a grudge match.

 

Overall, “Guys And Balls (Männer wie wir)” is an ok film. While everyone is a rather stereotypical in their characterisations, it actually works in a rather odd way. We have just about anyone you can imagine from the kinky leather gays, flamboyant nurse, the homophobic townsfolk, and more. But given that the story is more a tongue-in-check affront simply to entertain, it ends up being rather captivating. While Ecki’s all-gay football team is more a laughing stock than a team, they actually find rather strong personal motivations and come together in a rather inspiring way. I’ll leave the actual ending for you to discover, however. Along with a couple good laughs, I feel like you’ll enjoy this comedic queer sport film – though if you don’t understand German, you’ll need to find a copy with subtitles.

5

Beautiful Boxer

Based on the real life story of Parinya Charoenphol (Asanee Suwan), a Muay Thai boxer who underwent a sex change operation to become a woman. The movie chronicles her life from a young boy who likes to wear lipstick and flowers to her sensational career as a kickboxer – whose specialty is ancient Muay Thai boxing (moves which she can execute expertly with grace) – to finally confronting her own sexual identity, which leads to her sex change op.

 

Wow! This biopic Queer Sport & Trans film is utterly captivating and chock full of stunning visuals that bring the story of Parinya Charoenphol to life onscreen. It’s luscious, it’s emotional, it’s tear-inducing – it’s simply incredible! Told in a flashback/interview style, Director/Writer Ekachai Uekrongtham takes us to new depths of understanding in “Beautiful Boxer”. Focusing on the positive aspect of her story, he handles the her story with reverence and respect to honour the transexual conviction that Nong Toom is a woman trapped in a man’s body. However, the success equally relies upon the incredible acting & Muay Thai boxing skills of Asanee Suwan, providing an honest femininity to Parinya while performing all of the impressive martial arts stunts as Nong Toom. It’s Uekrongtham’s first feature film, so there are a few issues with the cinematography. But frankly – I didn’t care, it’s that great of a film! “Beautiful Boxer” should be at the top of everyone’s “To Watch” list.

But wait - I've already reviewed another Queer Sport Film!

While it did not make this month’s post, I recently reviewed another queer sport film. Dealing with being outed at school and facing alienation from his swimming teammates, our young lead struggles with the homophobia. Eventually he refocuses back on his swimming and proves that he’s still the star athlete – in addition to being gay. Find out the title of this French TV movie and read my full review HERE.

 

 

 

 

"5 Queer Sport Films" on teal background, with film strip corners

Portrait of Michael J. Deibert, owner of Queer Film Reviews

Hi, I’m Michael!

I have amassed a massive collection of queer and gay-themed films, shorts, series, and more. I’m here to let you know which ones are worth watching – and which ones aren’t!

Find A Review

Can't Find A Film?

Review Missing?

Is your favorite queer film missing from my reviews? Let me know and I'll add it to my short list!
0 0 vote
Post Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rainbow Pride Flag

Don’t see a review for your favorite queer film or short? Then let me know and I can try to review it sooner!