‘’For some people, the NSA thing – the no strings thing – implies something impersonal. No emotions. No real intimacy involved. But some of my most intimate experiences have been with casual hook-ups. With strangers even“
That’s the words of ‘O’, the anonymous narrator of ‘Skin to Skin’. The new experimental documentary taps into the nuances of casual relationships, using real stories to pick apart conventional wisdom about LGBTQ+ hook up culture. Finding its power amongst the blurred lines of its doc/fiction hybrid approach, the lived stories coalesce with the surrealistic imagery in a way that feels both familiar and larger than life.
Directed by award-winning filmmaking duo Luna, the patchwork quilt of scattered stories and memories capture raw moments in a piece that reaches beyond one-dimensional takes on hook-up culture. Going to showcase that it’s often in the early hours of the morning, between bedsheets that people that hours before were complete strangers reveal some of their most personal stories.
Highlighting how the nature of the experiences allow often alienated people to connect emotionally with others, it shines a light on the intimate and safe space created in the aftermath of casual sex.
Ahead of the Irish premiere of the film, we spoke to the directing duo Luna, about how the film came together.
What spurned the project?
The idea for the project came out of conversations we had with the anonymous narrator: ‘O’. We thought he had a really unique and quite surprising perspective on hook-up culture. As filmmakers, we also quite quickly realized that the themes and fragmented nature of the stories would allow us to craft a slightly dreamy visual language for the film. Which was really appealing to us.
As one half of us (we direct as part of a duo) is part of the LGBTQ+ community, we were also really interested in exploring the Irish LGBTQ+ scene in a way we hadn’t seen before. For us, many of the depictions and explorations of the Irish LGBTQ+ scene – in the media and mainstream cinema – have felt a bit alien to us. It’s a lot more diverse, vibrant and multifaceted than what we traditionally see on screen. So we really wanted to try capture this – in a visually different way.
What does the anonymous nature of the subject give to the film in your eyes?
There’s a simple enough reason that the subject remains anonymous. He felt like it would help protect the identities of anyone whose stories are retold in the film. Ireland, after all, is a small place – and the LGBTQ+ scene is even smaller. So it felt right to ensure we protected everyone’s identities.
At the same time, though, there was something thematically and stylistically interesting about keeping the narrator anonymous – as one of the key parts of the film is the fact that a lot of these hook-ups happen anonymously, among strangers or passing acquaintances. In some ways, allowing the narrator to remain anonymous allowed him to share things about himself that he might not necessarily feel comfortable sharing if his identity were revealed.
How important was it to flip some conceptions about hook up culture on their head with the focus on the intimate moments?
The major theme of the film – the whole thing it revolves around, really – is this idea of intimacy. Sometimes, we think hook-up culture – and casual sex more broadly – is often depicted as something purely physical, or transactional. Completely devoid of connection and emotions. By exploring these stories, we wanted to try to capture something that we feel often gets overlooked about LGBTQ+ hook-up culture. We wanted to show how hook-up culture allows alienated people to connect emotionally with others. How it allows individuals to experience a sense of intimacy and community. Not only that, however, but how this world allows individuals to acknowledge aspects of themselves they might usually keep hidden.
Watch ‘Skin to Skin’ below: