Being stuck in quarantine amidst a global pandemic forced a lot of people to grow introspective. Weeks of confinement meant, for many, contemplating their relationships with themselves and others was inevitable.
Those thoughts (and private transformations) are what many people in the 2SLGBTQ+ community share in a new, must-see short documentary called Lovers. It’s an ode to queer connection during the COVID-19 pandemic from Halifax creative Katie Clarke and pop artist T. Thomason.
Clocking in at nearly 23 minutes, the film features several people who touch on different facets of love—from the romantic to the familial to the platonic to self-love.
“Queer love is a kind of becoming—as this continuously evolving, continuously growing thing that just can’t be bounded,” Clarke, who directed the film, says. “But that’s exactly why I think the multifaceted stories in the doc are so impactful.”
Lovers’ ideation came at the cusp of Nova Scotia entering its third lockdown. Clarke had left Halifax for the weekend to visit Thomason in rural Nova Scotia, but new restrictions forced the couple to stick together for an indefinite amount of time.
Three days after Clarke’s arrival, Thomason started thinking about Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s breakaway hit 1984 song “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.” It was a tune Thomason often performed with his band—and since he was itching to start a new project, he decided to record a cover.
While Clarke considers herself more of a writer and theatre person, Thomason roped her into using her filmmaking prowess to create a music video for the cover. Clarke shot footage of their time together and implemented other clips of their friends talking about queer love during the pandemic.
“We made this call for submissions, and when we got them all, it became apparent—quite quickly—that it was bigger than the music video and it was a bigger project,” Clarke says. “We decided to create this two-part project with the documentary because it felt like it encompassed more of the spirit of Pride.”
At first, the documentary was slated to be a short 5 to 10-minute video. But after feeling a sense of joy and resilience about queer love from all the stories, it quickly blew up into a longer film—one that Clarke says has a rhythm and coherence that emphasizes humanness.
Some audiences might question the lack of polish and unfinished quality of Lovers. Most of the footage was shot on an iPhone, some submitted clips were recorded on webcams and the entire film is edited to a square aspect ratio.
But that imperfect style was a deliberate choice, and its roughness relates to Clarke and Thomason’s raw, ever-changing vision of queerness.
Moreover, it’s a reflection of the situation nearly everyone experienced during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; it wasn’t possible for Clarke and Thomason—let alone many filmmakers—to visit someone’s living room and bring a full set of film equipment. Even if they could, Thomason says it’s the content that matters most.
“So many people are saying, ‘Wow, it’s so nice to see something that’s just joyful,’” Thomason says. “That proves that even though this has been such a difficult year-and-a-half through the pandemic and it’s felt so isolating and alienating for people, at least this is proof that there has been some level of connection.”