Eating Papaw On The Seashore ★★★ BFI Flare 2023 (Short Film)

Eating Papaw On The Seashore ★★★ BFI Flare 2023 (Short Film)

Eating Papaw On The Seashore is a tender, poetic tale of finding attraction beyond the laws of your country. A film that keeps it simple to amplify its story; there is a lot to like here.

Asim and Hasani – gay teenagers from the Guyanese Countryside struggle with attraction to each other. They have their first intimate encounter, but Hasani is conflicted about these feelings because the society he lives in does not accept same-sex relationships. As a result, he finds it difficult to accept that he is in love with another boy.

Finding that you are attracted to someone should be a joyous moment, even more, joyful when it is clear that that person has an attraction for you back. But what happens when this attraction in your own country is deemed illegal, that anything sexual with this person could potentially mean a life sentence. This is the unfortunate situation Asim and Hasani find themselves in, in Guyana. A country still behind the times when the two want to become closer, they can only do so in the dark and even more remote by the beach or the sea.

Far from their own homes but free from judgement, there is something bittersweet about having your own secret place to be yourself to explore your sexuality and Eating Papaw On The Seashore conveys that so well. When they are on the mainland, they are just friends, cooking and eating, but away from the gazes of others, they are who they are. However, that fear remains and, as such, the two-part ways, despite their continued attraction. It seems their reasoning to split, no matter how miserable it made them, was wise. Teenagers are rarely as careful as they think they are, and if the opening scene is anything to go by, the young men’s attraction to one another would be as clear as day to all in their homophobic community.

Interestingly, despite the colour that is present in the clear blue sky and bright yellow clothes that some characters wear, Eating Papaw On The Seashore looks dulled, as if a cloud is hanging over their characters during the day and only when together intimately in the evening can that cloud be lifted. With no outlandish shots, Rae Wiltshire’s cinematography and co-direction with Nickose Layne keep it simple. But this isn’t the type of story that requires something flashy; by keeping everything visually solid, the story takes on centre stage.

Similarly, the performances are not knockouts but serve their purpose well (Wiltshire taking on a lead role and all of the behind-the-camera roles) shows this. As expected in a film like Eating Papaw On The Seashore, there are moments that people will catch and relate to from their own backgrounds, and whilst we may not be from a country where such activities are illegal, they are still judged. Allowing us to connect with these characters immediately. A short that is well worth a watch.


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