AKRON, a sleepy college town in the middle US state of Ohio, is at the centre of a film of the same name and an unlikely place to find a love story between two gay teens free of homophobia and discrimination.
[showads ad=MREC] But that is exactly what filmmakers Brian O’Donnell and Sasha King set out to achieve in Akron, which is making its Australian premiere at this year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival.
“It’s not a political film in any way, but it does have a new message and that new message is of acceptance,” said O’Donnell, who also wrote the film’s screenplay.
“(It’s) having characters who are gay but the plot not being dependent on or because of that and the characters not having shame attached to their homosexuality was something new.
“It’s exciting to see people respond to that and they were grateful to see that they felt it enabled them to have a different relationship to gay characters and straight characters than they’ve had in the past.”
Akron’s plot is not only unique for it’s approach to same-sex relationships but because of the tragic past that connects the families’ of the boyfriends, Benny and Christopher, played by Matthew Frias and Edmund Donovan respectively.
The boys are college freshmen who meet at football practice one winter afternoon and quickly fall in love.
Their families’ are accepting of their relationship until it is revealed their mothers’ lives are dramatically intertwined and each family must overcome the past in order for the Benny and Christopher to move forward.
O’Donnell was inspired by the notion that love between family members trumps all.
“This flowed and felt true,” he said.
“It came from me being friends with younger gay men and women… I was meeting a lot of people and hearing personal stories that were so very different from mine.
“Obviously there’s still a tremendous amount of discrimination… this younger generation they’re not so ignorant.
“It was important to reflect where a lot of young people that age are.”
King said the overwhelming response to Akron was that it is a part of a new wave of LGBTI filmmaking.
“The setting of the boys in supportive families, with supportive friends and them being gay not being an actual issue, we’ve turned a corner in LGBTI filmmaking and Akron is a part of that,” she said.
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