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Two great flicks today at the film festival

Just back from a break at the NC Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. We have two more to see later this afternoon/evening, but we saw two earlier that are worth catching if they come your way.

ON THE LOW
(US, NR, 2005, 16 min)
EMERGING FILM AWARD WINNER: BEST MEN’S SHORT
On the Low tells the story of two African-American high school boys, Ty Evans and Kevin Banks, involved in a clandestine sexual relationship. Things become complicated when Ty realizes his feelings are much deeper, but given the urban machismo world they come from, loving openly is not an option. Southeastern premiere.

This film was fantastic, but too short — you are left wanting to see so much more of these characters interacting with one another. You walk away from this film thinking is “people need to see this” because it exposes the The Down Low phenomenon (black men sleeping with men but don’t consider themselves to be gay), simply and clearly. From the director: “There’s something universal about integrity and self-respect,” explains the film’s writer-director Luther M. Mace. “Anybody- gay, straight, black, white; male, female- who believes that it’s okay to be in a relationship with somebody who refuses to publicly acknowledge them is in for a rude awakening.”

THE RECEPTION
(US, NR, 2005, 75 min) A 40-something gay black artist is living in upstate New York with his benefactor, an abusively alcoholic French woman who keeps him for companionship. Her daughter arrives for a visit with her own surprise -a new husband in the guise of a tall, handsome black Harvard law graduate. Through a series of drunken evenings and daytime squabbles, it becomes apparent that no one involved is what they seem, and old, deep-rooted resentments start bubbling to the surface and some shocking secrets get revealed.

This film blew us both away. Director John G. Young made this film for $5,000 and shot in eight days on digital video in snowy Roxbury, NY. The direction, acting, photography, editing and writing are stellar. I don’t want to share much more about the plot than what is given above, but the emotional turns and surprises make your average Hollywood drama look like pieces of crap. The acoustic music, by a group that I cannot recall or find info on now, was superb, and completely captured the mood of the film.

Obviously quite a few people in the know figured out this film is deserving of attention as well, and it’s getting a general theatrical release by Strand.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding