Friday, November 02, 2012

"I Do": New film explores immigration equality, gay marriage and family duty

The new independent film “I Do”, by Glenn Gaylord and David W. Ross, manages to put together most of the major segments of the marriage equality, immigration equality, and family responsibility (as viewed in the “culture wars”) together in a well-constructed story. The film was aired by Reel Affirmations (opening night for the shorter 2012 festival) last night (Nov. 1) at the Carnegie Science Center  Theater in Washington, one block from the (competing) annual High Heels Race, which probably prevented a sellout.

Jack Edwards (writer David Ross) works in New York as an openly gay photographer but has emigrated from Britain on a long term visa since he was a teen.  As the movie opens, he is having dinner with his older brother Peter (Grant Edwards), who had raised him after a  family tragedy in Britain, and his brother’s just-pregnant wife  Mya (Alicia Witt).   Peter says , at the table,that straight men have more responsibility and less disposable income than gay men.  Peter accidentally leaves his wallet behind, and in the ensuing sequence his brother gets struck by a car and killed.

Jack helps raise the little girl Tara (Jessica Tyler Brown). This may seem like kind of “family responsibility”, the way it has been explored in movies like ‘Raising Helen”, “Saving Sarah Cain” and “Breakfast with Scot” (see Oct. 16, 2008; Aug 24, 2007).  But, as the writer pointed out in the Q&A, Jack really wants kids and envies the heterosexual world for providing that opportunity.  Now, he has the chance to be a substitute father.

Soon, however, he learns his visa won’t be renewed easily because of post 9-11 concerns.  At the urging of a legal counselor (Earnestine Phillips), he marries a lesbian best friend Ali (Jamie-Lynn Sigler). Pretty soon, the INS is barging in, and calling them in to their offices to quiz them (separately) to make sure they have a “real” marriage.  (If they didn’t, the movie says, Ali could go to prison.)  In the mean time, Jack has been dating two men, Craig (Mike Manning), and then the Spaniard Mano (Maurice Compte).  Both of these men are very congenial – and this film, in fact, makes all of its major gay male characters likeable (as had “Judas Kiss”).  Jack’s relationship with Mano deepens, and then Mano’s father has a stroke back in Spain, and Mano will have to go back to take care of him (the involuntary family responsibility card again).  Mano says, “he’s my flesh and blood, he’s my father”  even though the father had turned him away when learning he was gay.

Jack has explored the idea of divorcing Ali and marrying Mano, but is told that because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), now in the courts as possibly unconstitutional under equal protection, the INS cannot recognize the marriage even though New York State will.  But he could consider going with Dano and marrying in Spain and leaving the US for good, but that would mean abandoning his niece.  By now, this brother’s wife has mixed feeling about this whole thing, as in one particular scene where she loses her tempo.
The film was largely shot in LA, with many streets made to simulate New York; a few scenes were shot in New York, and the last sequence in the arid Pyrenees foothills in Spain, and it looks impressive.  The film is shot in 2.35:1 aspect, which means a lot of cropping at this particular venue.

In the QA, Ross said that the Obama administration has been able to hold off on actual deportation enforcements in these kinds of situations.

The film has played in many other festivals, including Austin, Frameline, Outfest, Atlanta, Seattle, and Asheville.  It appears that it will be released by TLA.  The official site is here

The link for Immigration Equality is here

Two short films to note on YouTube:

In “Not Gay” (16 min), by Charlie Polinger, Austin Prow plays a likeable college student who wakes up after heavy drinking at a frat party to learn of his proclivities from his buddies.
In “Gay in the Dark (“Al Buio”, 12 min) two brothers in an Italian boarding school both face their intrinsic identities. 

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