It’s that time of year again; the gay and lesbian film festival circuit is in full swing. I’ve been a big fan of the independent gay film genre for years now, but never before have I actually had the opportunity to experience any of the festivals. So this year I decided to make a point of going to Philly QFest’s 17th festival, and I’m really glad I did.
Today I went to the 2nd screening of Judas Kiss. I had wanted to see this film since I first saw the teaser trailers, and it was well worth the wait.
Judas Kiss stars Charlie David as Zachary Wells who was a boy wonder filmmaker in his college days, but now approaching thirty, his best days are long behind him. So, when his agent encourages him to travel to his alma mater to judge a student film festival, he reluctantly goes: after all, he has nothing else to do. Returning to his old campus, he tosses professionalism aside when he has a one-night stand with Danny (Richard Harmon), the talented student filmmaker who’s much talked about movie proves to be the one to beat at the festival. Sexual shenanigans are the least of Zachary’s problems when he realizes that there has been some sort of time shift and that Danny is really his 20-year-old younger self! He’s looking directly at his past. But Danny’s none the wiser: he considers it just a fling with an old dude as he goes about his tumultuous personal life, juggling relationships with the cocky Shane (Timo Descamps) and with Chris (Sean Paul Lockhart), a fellow student with a crush on him. As Danny plots his way to an award-winning filmmaking future, Zachary works to change his past…and hopefully his future. Director J.T. Tepnapa (2002 short Masturbation: Putting the Fun Into Self-Loving) directs a very talented cast including David (Mulligans, Kiss the Bride, “Dante’s Cove”), Lockhart (Another Gay Sequel, Milk, I Was a Teenage Werebear) and Harmon (“The Killing”). – Raymond Murray
Although I am a fan of the genre, independent gay films often suffer from notoriously tight budgets. With low production values, they can frequently appear to be little better than student films. That was definitely not the case here. As writer/producer Carlos Pedraza stated in the Q & A, they “wanted to make sure that every dollar raised for this project went into the production”. It definitely shows. The movie is beautifully lit, and the cinematography is interesting and draws you into the story. There were a lot of good people involved in the making of this film, a few of whom donated some of their time to get it made. They had an unbelievably large cast for such a low budget, with 32 speaking roles and a slew of extras. This film was set on a college campus, and they wanted realism.
The story was one we have all heard before; a misfit, failed soul gets a chance at redemption and an opportunity to change his life for the better. So, I was curious as to what the filmmakers’ take on it would be. They took the familiar story and made it their own. I was drawn into the drama from the first scene. Now, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a sweet, gay love story, but I was immediately taken with David’s Zach and found myself more interested in his character’s development than anything else.
I was also really impressed with the acting of the main cast. I’ve see Charlie David in a few films and can say without a doubt, I felt this was one of his best. Sean Paul Lockhart (better known as Brent Corrigan to adult film audiences) has only been in a few films at this point, but I see a bright future for him. He was actually honored with the rising star award at QFest on opening night. Finally, we have Timo Descamps, the new gay indie breakout star. He’s a Belgian pop star who’s done mostly musical theater and tv roles and lends one of his singles to the film. I was not aware before the Q & A that this was not only his first feature film, but also his first English speaking project. He played the bad boy very well.
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed every aspect of this film: the actors, the location, the direction. All of it was top notch. I would definitely rate this as a must see movie for gay cinema fans, and see this film earning a spot on the top ten list for 2011.
For those interested, a sneak peak at the many talents of Timo Descamps: