A crowd of 75 people came out to enjoy the Hotter Than July Film Festival last Thursday night. The event, which took place in the intimate amphitheatre of the Legal Aid and Defender’s Association new downtown headquarters, was hosted by Sistas Providing Intelligence, Creativity and Empowerment.
The evening began with the screening of “Triple Minority.” The film short was produced as director Amber Sharp’s thesis when she studied for her graduate degree at the University of Southern California School of Cinema.
“It’s about an African-American gay woman who wants to reconcile her relationship with her family without sacrificing her sexual identity,” Sharp said in introducing the film.
Sharp masterfully creates an uncomfortable tension that is present throughout the short. The story, that of a preacher’s daughter who is disowned for being a lesbian, is not new. But Sharp’s treatment of the subject is powerful enough to make the tale refreshing.
The feature presentation of the evening was Sharp’s new project, “Don’t Go.” The film is actually a pilot for a television series that Sharp is currently shopping. However, it’s unlike any series you’ve likely seen before. It’s about several friends in the life who share a four-plex in Los Angeles, but the characters Sharp has created are multicultural to the max. Included are a gay Israeli man, an Indian lesbian and an intersexed woman.
“For me, I like things that you’ve never seen before,” Sharp said. “Originally, I was just going to make the character transgender, but then I thought, ‘nah, that’s not enough.’ So I thought it would be great to give a voice to this community.”
Sharp has of yet been unable to sell the pilot, perhaps for the very reason that makes it so appealing.
“‘Don’t Go’ is just so different and so diverse from what’s out there that I think people are afraid to take the risk,” she said.
The version Sharp is shopping is admittedly rough and an obvious labor of love, but that takes little away from her vision. In fact, Sharp’s telling of what she went through to bring this story to life – she and partner refinanced their home to film it – helps viewers easily look past any of the film’s flaws.
“Right now what you’re seeing is just my heart and soul,” Sharp said succinctly.
Also shown at the festival was an episode of “The DL Chronicles,” the brainchild of directors Quincy LaNear and Deondray Gossett. But don’t let the name fool you. The series penetrates the downlow hype instead of perpetuating it and is a genuine must-see.
“When you see these stories you see some of things that we live every day,” said Andrea’ Wilson, co-founder and current vice-president of SPICE. “We’re just like everybody else and soon, through the movement, people are going to know that.”