Pride Month Spotlight: The Apple Tree

When Gabe and Jonathan (played as young men by Jay Renshaw and Ryland Shelton) fall in love in the 1940s, they decide to spend their life together in secret. But as the times changed, so died the couple – who were eventually able to express their love openly.

When Jonathan unexpectedly passes away years later, Gabe (played as an older man Jerry Bornstein) is faced with a dilemma that many LGBT elders encounter when they move into retirement homes… going back into the closet.

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A 30-minute short film, writer-director Matthew Ladensack’s The Apple Tree screened world-wide at LGBT film festivals, and ended up winning the Best Picture prize at Out in the Desert. The short was very powerful at the time it was released and over the intervening years, with many baby boomers entering assisted living homes, the story the film tells has become much louder and stronger – so much so that Ladensack is in the process of adapting it into a feature film.

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The writer/director’s newest draft earned a spot in the Top 50 of the world famous Tracking Board Launch Pad feature screenplay contest and was a semi-finalist at the Nashville Film Festival Feature Screenplay Contest. The feature will focus not only on aging in the gay community, but on two generations of gay men coming together – a new primary character, Colton, is a closeted high school football player who ends up forming a close bond with Gabe and seeing, first hand, the experiences of his LGBTQ fore-bearers.

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Make sure you check out the original short film before the full-length feature arrives. The Apple Tree is currently streaming on Dekkoo. It’s one of our Pride Month picks.

Pride Month Spotlight: Were the World Mine

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

It doesn’t get better than this swoon-worthy, candy-colored musical about a high school boy who uses magic to turn many of the boys at school gay – just in time for a show-stopping production of a Shakespearean classic. Since its release, Were the World Mine has become a gay musical classic that we will return to again and again.

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Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is a gay boy stranded in a private all-boys school, which is largely obsessed with rugby. Unfortunately, there’s only one thing about rugby that catches Timothy’s interest: he’s obsessed with the super-adorable star player Jonathan (Nathaniel David Becker).

Both boys are students in Ms. Tebbit’s English class (she’s played by the delightful Wendy Robie of “Twin Peaks” and The People Under the Stairs). She’s a teacher with a mission: to excite her students with the literature of the ages. When she decides to cast these two boys as the romantic leads in her production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (and to cast boys in all of the female roles), she proves herself just as mischievous as Puck.

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The rugby Coach and townspeople are up in arms, but for Timothy, it seems like his wildest romantic fantasies may be coming true. He finds, in the script, the recipe for a potion to make people gay. With just a few spritzes from his magic pansy, the entire town (filled with Christian fundamentalists) is soon whipped into frenzy as the glorious production night approaches.

This deliciously surreal confection from co-writer/director Thomas Gustafson, based on his own 2003 short film Fairies, is a true gem. The musical numbers are over-the-top, production values first-rate and the acting is as flawless as the adorable boys on display. Even the top critics agreed back in 2008 when the film first screened. After Elton called it “absolutely breathtaking” and The New York Times said it was “movie musical magic.” It also managed to snag over twenty audience and jury awards during its initial film festival run.

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Swoon all over Were the World Mine RIGHT NOW on Dekkoo! It’s one of our treasured Pride Picks.

‘The Apple Tree’ to become a feature film. You can help!

Every day hundreds of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered elders are faced with the despairing truth of being isolated and discriminated against as they enter their twilight years. Some have completely denounced their sexuality in fear of being who they are, while others give up and sometimes even commit suicide after facing the fact that they must return into the closet.

This is an image from The Apple Tree

Matthew Arnold-Ladensack’s award-winning short film,  ‘The Apple Tree’ deals with this subject. The short centers around Gabe, an elderly wheelchair-bound veteran who is forced back into the closet after his life partner passes away and he moves into a homophobic assisted living home.

We were thrilled to learn that the filmmakers have decided to turn the ‘The Apple Tree’ into a feature length film and they need our help!

Please donate to, share or follow this wonderful project!

 

 

New This Week – 4/27/18

This is the art for the gay movie, 'A Place To Be'

Set against the background of a broken U.S. immigration system, ‘A Place to Be’ is a love story between two young men, Abel & Diego. When tragedy strikes and Diego’s immigration status is revealed, Abel and Diego discover the power of love during uncertain times. From the Award Winning filmmaker Tadeo Garcia comes a love story for our time. Watch ‘A Place to Be’ now on Dekkoo one month before DVD!

This is the art for the gay, animated short film, 'Flamingo Pride'

The story of the only heterosexual flamingo and his desperate attempt to find love. Watch the wonderful animated short, ‘Flamingo Pride’ on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay feature, 'The David Dance'

David, the host of a local gay radio show in Buffalo, New York, struggles with self-doubt when his single sister asks him to be the father figure for her soon to be adopted Brazilian child. Stream ‘The David Dance’ now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: A brand new chilling homoerotic thriller.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 067 – ‘BUGCRUSH’

Title – ‘Bugcrush

Director – Carter Smith

Starring – Josh Caras, Donald Cumming, Eleonore Hendricks, David Tennent

Release Date – 2006

 

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Well it’s a very dark and yet exciting day here in Dekkoo-world with the launch of Carter Smith’s award-winning short-ish film from 2006 ‘Bugcrush‘! This is absolutely, positively, my favorite short film ever – it’s disturbing, sexy, and gorgeously made. The photography, sound design, and choice of locations all come together to reach a level of perfection for my particular aesthetic interests. The short premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film! Based on his success at Sundance Carter Smith went on to direct the Summer blockbuster horror film ‘The Ruins’ and later in 2014 the intimate ghost love-triangle film ‘Jamie Marks is Dead’.

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Bugcrush‘ is set in a small town in the forest-heavy state of Maine. We meet Ben – a mousey nerd-ish loner type who happens to be the first person to talk to the dark, mysterious, and sexy new kid in school, Grant who immediately upon arrival gets an immediate detention for smoking. What does Ben do then? He gets detention on purpose so he can stare at Grant for a couple of hours. Ben’s friends try to talk him down from his obsession with Grant. They warn him that he’s just a straight guy that’ll beat him up if he knew Ben was into him. But none of this deters Ben who proceeds to work up the courage one school day to propose a hangout with Grant that leads to a very bumpy night to say the least…

The film is an adaptation of a short story by Scott Treleaven, an artist who founded the queer pagan punk ‘zine ‘This is the Salivation Army’ back in the 90’s. It was collected in the queer horror anthology ‘Queer Fear 2’ which is where Carter Smith first read it. “The moment I read the short story the very first time, it was like being hit by a bus,” Carter Smith said, waiting in a Dallas airport for a changeover flight to Salt Lake City. “I was like, ‘This is the film that I can make better than anybody else. This is the film I have to make.’ It just sort of clobbered me over the head.” Before making ‘Bugcrush‘ Carter Smith was a professional fashion photographer and commercial director. He was certainly able to bring over his keen instinct for stylization and photography to create a dark and foreboding landscape of teenage angst and sexuality.

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The film was shot on 35mm and the color timing is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Greens have a corpse-like quality to them (except when it comes to Ben’s eyes which seem to be leaping out of the screen at you) and the roads at night are a gorgeous yellow-grey color. Another part of the production that leaps out at you is the sound design. The entire film is filled with eerie moans and distorted childish voices that promote the escalating tension in everyday normal situations like school hallways. The idea to un-synchronize the sound during the driving scene at night is totally brilliant! And so was the idea to have lots of whispering voices giving you additional info about characters. Turn up your volume!!

This movie has everything! Pretty guys, teenage crushes, weird drugs, sexy smoking, metal music, awkward hidden sexuality, creepy straight guys, and cockroaches! Watch ‘Bugcrush‘ with your ‘crush’ tonight!

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Watch it with: Someone you have a dark crush on…

Mix it with: Vodka.

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New This Week – 4/6/18

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Ian McKellen delivers an award-winning performance as Hollywood horror director James Whale. It’s 1957, and Whale’s heyday as the director of ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and ‘The Invisible Man’ is long behind him. Retired and a semi-recluse, he lives his days accompanied only by images from his past. When a handsome young gardener (played by the beautiful Brendan Fraser) enters the picture, the pair develop an unlikely friendship. Watch ‘Gods And Monster’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay short film, 'Turn It Around'

When the fifteen year old Bram meets Florian at a house party, he immediately falls for him. There’s only one problem: nobody knows Bram is gay. Watch ‘Turn It Around’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay movie, 'Finding Neighbors'

A successful stay-at-home graphic novelist, has hit a mid-life and creative crisis. When his wife begins to suspect an affair she is surprised to learn he’s spending all of his time with his gay neighbor. ‘Finding Neighbors’ is now available to stream on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: A gay story from Sri Lanka, where being gay is illegal.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 065 – ‘GODS AND MONSTERS’

Title – ‘Gods and Monsters

Director – Bill Condon

Starring – Sir Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich

Release Date – 1998

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“To a new world of gods and monsters!” 
— Dr. Pretorius to Dr. Frankenstein in ‘Bride of Frankenstein’

We’ve got a wonderful treat for you this week on Dekkoo! The Academy Award winning film ‘Gods and Monsters‘ by Bill Condon! Released theatrically in 1998 it went to on win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for two other categories – Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The script for the film was based on a biography of famous director James Whale called ‘Father of Frankenstein’ by Christopher Bram. Before we jump into talking about the movie I think it’s important to talk about the background of our protagonist: James Whale.

James-Whale A quick background on the real James Whale:
While James Whale directed nearly 20 films by now only a few have survived the test of time. Most notable among those are ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, ‘The Invisible Man’, and ‘The Old Dark House’. Born in 1889 Whale was one of seven children and had to stop attending school in his teens because of money issues in the family. He started as a cobbler and ended up using his blossoming artistic abilities to paint signs for neighbors. When World War I broke out in 1914 he decided to enlist in the army and avoid the draft that he knew was inevitable. In 1917 he was captured in Flanders and remained imprisoned for more than a year. During that time he used his creative talents to amuse and entertain his fellow soldiers with amateur productions. After the war he spent his time trying to sell cartoons before eventually finding his calling directing plays which he did from 1922 to 1929. After the success of various productions he ventured to Hollywood where producers were looking for directors that had experience with dialog since Hollywood was going through a transition from silent films to talking films. He started off at Paramount Pictures and eventually made his way to Universal Pictures where he met Carl Laemmle, Jr. who offered him the chance to direct any property the studio owned. He chose Frankenstein.

The movie takes place in the 50s – long after the glory days of ‘Frankenstein’. In the 50s James had settled into his Pacific Palisades abode and had used the pool to his advantage; throwing pool parties where large groups of young men fooled around with each other while he watched. After having a small stroke in 1956 he became more withdrawn and hardly left the house. Enter Clayton (played by Brenden Fraser) – the new beefcake gardener. Some have noted that his tall lanky appearance is similar to that of the monster from ‘Frankenstein’. James takes an immediate liking to him and invites him to pose for some sketches. During these sessions they get to know each other and quickly become friends. There are some speed bumps though mostly owing to Whale’s tendency to lapse into memories about parties, sex, and boys which makes Clayton wildly uncomfortable. Watching from the sidelines during this tentative courtship/friendship is Hanna (played by Lynn Redgrave and nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars), his loyal housemaid who clearly disapproves of his homosexuality and tries to place herself in the middle of anything she deems suspicious.

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The film oscillates between these sketching sessions, memories from Whales’ childhood and later career, some interactions with fan, (‘take off your clothes and I’ll tell you everything’) and a past lover. Bringing the fun down a notch is Whales’ medical conditions – his strokes have left him severely ill and he toys with the idea of suicide. Ian McKellen is absolutely wonderful in the role of James Whale. He inhabits the playful, sexual, tormented, and reminiscent mind with the skill someone only of someone his caliber can deliver. He truly delivers a performance worthy of winning Best Actor at the Oscars, but sadly he was only nominated for it. The film is also a wonderful accomplishment for Bill Condon who later went on to direct ‘Kinsey’ and ‘Dreamgirls’ along with a host of other more mainstream fare like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’. It’s a film that will stay with you long after the closing credits. A beautiful swan song to creativity and a life lived honestly.

 

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Watch it with: A group of your creative friends.

Mix it with: Champagne.

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