Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reel Affirmations starts in DC; the film "Shelter"


Reel Affirmations 17, the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival for Washington DC, kicked off with an opening night film of a stage event (discussed in my drama blog – see the profile) followed by the party at Nellie’s, a sports bar a few blocks down U Street from the primary venue, the Lincoln Theater. Other venues are the Goethe Institut and Landmark’s E Street Cinema downtown.

This year, the party venue offers two major rooms downstairs, one upstairs plus a deck. The view is not quite as spectacular as it was last year from the roof of the Ellington Apartments. The bar was playing the National League Championship game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, but then switched all the screens to a black and white Tarzan film.

A Centerpiece Screening on Friday night at the Lincoln was a new film by Jonah Markowitz, "Shelter" (2007), from Regent and Here! Films. The film takes place on the California Coast and in the Bay Area and recalls the mood of TheWB (CWTV now) series “Summerland.” Here, a young artist Zack (about 20 or so, played by Trevor Wright) and surfer lives with his older sister after a family tragedy and helps raise her son (some reviewers call him the "family slave"). He meets a successful fiction novelist Shaun (Brad Rowe) one of whose novels he has actually read, and there is a remark that the novel resembled a real life event, itself a dangerous possibility (the “Touching” case well known in California law). He begins to discover himself and a rocky relationship ensues. The moral question comes, what is his responsibility to be a “role model” to his nephew since he is the only male around. This question is important to many people, and the “morality” of the events and outcome could be
interpreted in more than one way by mainstream society.

There is a line that is particularly telling, when Shaun taunts Zach as to his lack of personal freedom to make his own decisions, and Zach says something like "some people simply can't do that; they have too many responsibilities." And the responsibilities don't always seem to be voluntarily chosen.

(See also Aug. 24 on this blog for other films about "mandatory family responsibility" for those without their own children, such as "Saving Sarah Cain".)

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