Heartstopper icon Yasmin Finney’s new short film with Yungblud is a beautiful ode to trans youth

A promo still of actor Yasmin Finney as Charlie Acaster from the short film Mars. (Mercury Studios_Mars)

Yungblud and Yasmin Finney’s short film Mars is a colourful and lively ode to trans and non-binary youth, and the expansive beauty of this community. 

Premiering at BFI London Film Festival, Mars is a breath of fresh air within the body of LGBTQ+ media and celebrates how miraculous it is to be your true self.

At the start of the film, we meet intrepid explorer Charlie Acaster (Finney), a trans teenager who finds escape in the wild stratosphere. 

Although we first enter her dreams and imaginations, we are soon brought down to earth as she discusses her Friday night plans with her friend Maisie (Leah Choudhry).

As they go their separate ways Charlie finds herself at a support group of trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming young people who are all navigating similar challenges. 

Maisies (L) and Charlie (R) in Mars. (Mercury Studios_Mars)

Maisie (L) and Charlie (R) hang out. (Mercury Studios/Mars)

To the backdrop of vibrant colours, sci-fi and found family, Charlie goes on a journey of self-acceptance and discovering that true friendship is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. 

Many LGBTQ+ youth will be able to relate to the sense of escapism, where you conjure up worlds in your mind where you are free to be who you are. 

Mars represents the beauty in opening that fantasy door in your mind and welcoming others. 

Created by award-winning musician YungBlud, he wrote on his Instagram that they assembled “a team of cast and crew that fully represent the communities whose stories we wanted to tell.”

And from the diversity of experiences, stories and nuances that come to life on the screen, it is clear this project was a collaborative effort. 

However, what is most special about this short film is that, as Charlie discovers her confidence, permeating from its very core is a sense of joy. 

Perhaps the moment that encapsulates it best is when the group session leader, Pete (Pete MacHale) tells Charlie: “There is joy, there is so much f***ing joy, but not if you are too embarrassed to go looking for it.”
Throughout the film, there is a keen sense of trying to find belonging, and the bravery it takes to reach out to those closest to you. 

As Charlie realises that she is not alone, we also see her bond with her childhood friend Maisie. The barrier drops and she can be fully herself, embracing the past, present and future in one glorious moment of euphoria. 

The constant thread of energy, happiness and searching for something more is beautifully coupled by the striking cinematography.

Directed by Abel Rubinstein, it is difficult to move your eyes away from the screen as each new shot shows more colour and sparkles – and out-of-this-world sequences.

Mars. (Mercury Studios_Mars)

Mars is full of magical moments. (Mercury Studios/Mars)

During one scene Maisie and Charlie go to an arcade and everything on screen comes to life as we are taken through a visually enchanting journey around the arcade, punctuated by the sounds of laughter and bliss. 

And between the heartfelt and beautiful moments, we also see the true teenage experience reflected, with spikes of anger, embarrassment, confusion and frustration. 

Going through puberty is never easy, let alone when you are going through a life-changing identity transformation. 

All the aspects of Mars marry up to create a powerful, vibrant and boundary-pushing short that leaves you with a huge smile on your face as the credits roll.