A Gay Man's Past Looms Over His Quest For Love In This Poignant Short Film

Sal Bardo wrote “Requited” out of his frustration with queer narratives. The indie festival favorite hits YouTube this month to mark its 10th anniversary.
"Requited" actors Chris Damon (left) and Max Rhyser.
"Requited" actors Chris Damon (left) and Max Rhyser.
Sal Bardo

Filmmaker Sal Bardo is honoring the 10th anniversary of his debut short film, “Requited,” by releasing it online for the first time.

Unveiled on YouTube last week, the 2010 film follows Nicolas (played by Chris Damon), a 20-something gay New Yorker debating whether or not to attend the wedding of a high school friend, Aaron (Matthew Watson), for whom he has been suppressing feelings. If he goes to the ceremony, however, he’ll miss saying goodbye to his current lover, Gregor (Max Rhyser), who is moving to San Francisco.

Based in Los Angeles, Bardo told HuffPost he wrote “Requited” out of frustrations with the quality of LGBTQ narratives he was seeing in Hollywood at the time.

“I wanted to write something for myself that depicted characters and stories I could relate to,” he said. Having based the story loosely on a real-life friendship he’d had as a young adult, he added, “It’s definitely a snapshot in time. Looking back, the film feels very cynical. I think maybe I’m a tiny bit less cynical now!”

With its wistful, slice-of-life feel, “Requited” feels like a predecessor to the HBO series “Looking” and 2017’s “Call Me by Your Name.” The film had its world premiere at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival and went on to receive acclaim on the indie circuit. That same year, Bardo nabbed an award for Best First Time Filmmaker at Washington, D.C.’s international LGBTQ film festival, Reel Affirmations.

Since then, Bardo has gone on to create other well-received short films, including 2013’s “Sam” and 2015’s “Pink Moon.” He’s currently at work on a feature film, “Out of the Woods,” based on his 2015 short, “Great Escape.”

Still, he’s hopeful viewers accustomed to diverse narratives will still find value in “Requited,” which he jokingly refers to as his “first pancake.”

“The first pancake is never as good as the rest ― you have to warm up the pan,” he quipped. “My work has gotten much better, but I’m still really proud of ‘Requited.’”

Catch “Requited” in full below.