''It's disheartening for me to see how the island is saturated with homophobia,'' says Dre Woody Macko. Macko hopes the new documentary Taboo Yardies helps shine a light on her native country of Jamaica.
Selena Blake's film, which screens as part of this year's DC Black Pride Film Festival, interviews Jamaicans of varying opinions about gays as well as human rights activists, and focuses chiefly on anti-gay violence on the island. ''It opens the door for dialogue with Jamaicans and Americans,'' says Macko, a board member of DC Black Pride. Macko selected the powerful film as part of this year's mini-film festival put on by the organization.
''I selected films that are consistent with some of the issues that we're facing right now in our community,'' says Macko. ''Bullying, brothers on the down-low and just blatant discrimination.''
Also screening at the Saturday, May 26, event is the short feature Change by Melissa Osborne and Jeff McCutcheon. The film, which tells a story about teenagers struggling with their sexuality and anti-gay bullying, won the audience award at Toronto's Inside Out LGBT film festival last year. A third film on tap is Roger S. Omeus Jr.'s Finding Me: Truth, a comedy drama about complicated modern-day relationships and sexualities. The film is a sequel of sorts to a 2009 film from Omeus.'
Both Finding Me: Truth director Omeus and Taboo Yardies' Blake will engage in Q&As after the film screenings.
''[The festival] is a great opportunity for young filmmakers, and for participants to interact with directors and filmmakers,'' says Macko.
The DC Black Pride Film Festival
Saturday, May 26
2 to 5 p.m.
400 New Jersey Ave. NW.
Jamie is an African-American teenager grappling with his sexual identity on the night Barack Obama is elected President and Proposition 8 -- the voter initiative to eliminate same-sex marriage -- is passed. When one of his gang initiates the bullying of an openly gay classmate, Jamie uses his wits to try and prevent it, but when things don't go the way he predicted, he is forced to face his fears head on. Directed by Melissa Osborne and Jeff McCutcheon. Winner of the Audience Award, Inside Out LGBT Film & Video Festival. (24 min.)
Finding Me: Truth
A fresh, new ''indie'' film about a young gay black man's journey of self-discovery, affirmation and love. Independent African-American gay cinema is given a refreshing, realistic twist in this seductive drama. Faybien Allan has it all going on: he's young, stylish, and knows the importance of being seen with hip friends at NYC's trendiest spots. But beneath the sparkle of his nightlife and his stunning good-looks is a man buckling under his father's homophobia. Filled with self-loathing and desperate for direction, he meanders through life until meeting Lonnie, a confident activist with a flirtatious smile. However, despite their obvious chemistry and fireworks in bed, Faybien's insecurities have him looking for the door. Can a budding romance and a few good friends keep him from making the biggest mistake of his life?
A true labor of love shot over the course of a dozen weekends, Finding Me marks the discovery of a promising and humanistic new talent, first-time Haitian-American filmmaker Roger Omeus, Jr. (1 hr. 45 min.)
The concept of the documentary is to explore the perception of Jamaica as an Island that is saturated with intolerance toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by giving a voice to Jamaicans who are pro, con and everywhere in between this highly controversial issue. By giving a voice to those Jamaicans who dare to speak up and speak out, we hope to give viewers an opportunity to decide for themselves whether the view of Jamaica as a homophobic culture is perception or reality. More importantly, we hope Taboo Yardies becomes a vehicle that spurs an open an honest conversation that ultimately promotes respect and tolerance for all regardless of sexual orientation. This documentary does not pretend to be for or against gay rights…but unashamedly in support of human rights and against violence being advocated and/or perpetrated against LGBT Jamaicans. The producer/director of Yardies Taboo, Selena Blake, will be at the Film Festival to discuss her movie and answer questions. (1 hr., 19 min.)