On The Cusp, Longlist - Short Film


Matthew Puccini

Bering Pictures, 141 Entertainment, The Jacob Burns Film Center

Dirty was born out of my frustration with the current lack of sex education available to LGBTQ youth in most high schools. Even growing up in a fairly liberal area of California, my own sex education experience was extremely heteronormative — gay men were briefly mentioned in the context of AIDS, and no other references to the LGBTQ community were made.  At a moment late in the film, Marco turns to his boyfriend, tears in his eyes, and asks, “How was I supposed to know?” In writing the film, I thought a lot about that question, and about what I wish I’d known and seen growing up. I eventually arrived at the idea of updating the classic “losing your virginity” story by centering it around two queer teenagers, and by featuring queer sex in a naturalistic and unapologetic way. It’s important to me that the experience of the two young men in this film, though awkward at moments, ultimately ends up being sex-positive. I hope that this film is equally affirming, and perhaps even instructive, for young, questioning queer viewers. Morgan Sullivan, who plays Marco, and I also spoke extensively in the rehearsal process about wanting to tell a story centered around a trans character in which their trans-ness isn't explicitly mentioned, and where the conflict of the film isn’t a direct extension of them being trans. The end result, I hope, proves that films about trans and queer characters can occupy space outside of the all-too-familiar narratives of oppression and violence. We both feel strongly that there is equal, if not more, power to be found in seeing those characters existing on their own terms, and freely pursuing romance and intimacy.

Matthew grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives in Brooklyn. His short films have screened at Sundance (Dirty, Lavender), SXSW (Dirty, Lavender, The Mess He Made), qualified for the Academy Awards (Lavender), and been acquired by The Criterion Channel (Dirty), Topic Studios (Marquise) and Searchlight Pictures (Lavender). Matthew is a 2018 Sundance Ignite Fellow, a member of the 2017 New York Film Festival Artist Academy, a recipient of the Richie Jackson Artist Fellowship and a Creative Culture Fellow at the Jacob Burns Film Center. He was selected as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 2019 25 New Faces of Independent Film and as one of Indiewire’s 25 LGBTQ Filmmakers On The Rise.