Filmmaker Jonah Markowitz confesses he had a number of intentions when he set out to make a movie of his own script, titled Shelter.
The production company he sold the project to also had clear intentions when making the story of two boyhood friends who fall in love as adults while surfing the waves of the US west coast.
One of the film’s executives has since been quoted as saying he liked Shelter as he thought it was the anti-Brokeback Mountain film. That catchphrase has since caught on with US critics, who have also used the line to describe the movie.
But director-writer Markowitz is clearly not comfortable with having Shelter described in such a way.
I really don’t know what that means, Markowitz told Sydney Star Observer. I think Brokeback upped the bar in a good way for gay cinema and it was such a beautiful movie, but I didn’t understand what they meant when they said Shelter was the -˜anti-Brokeback‘ at all.
He pauses for a moment, and then admits, Maybe it is that the boys in Shelter get what they want and Brokeback was about never being able to get what they were after. From what I have experienced at the film festivals where Shelter has played, audiences are very excited they have a movie where there is going to be a happy ending -“ and gay audiences are very ready for that.
Shelter received a standing ovation at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and proved so popular earlier this year at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival another screening had to be scheduled.
It has just been released nationally on DVD.
The film stars Trevor Wright as Zach, a twentysomething man trying to cope with a dead-end job, a family in which he is the primary carer for his nephew, and his dream to study at an art college.
When his best friend’s brother Shaun (Brad Rowe) returns to town for a beach holiday, Zach finds himself spending time surfing with the hunky, and openly gay, older man. In time, the relationship stirs emerging feelings about Zach’s own sexuality.
While there is drama and angst along the road to self-acceptance, there is a happy ending which also makes a potent statement about the concept of the modern gay family.
The idea of this movie was it was about being able to redefine family and if you can find love in your life, then that provides you with a family, Markowitz said.
The young boy at the end is in a safe place, and that is an important part of the story. It is about showing a new version of family, and how there are families we create.
It was also important for me to make a film where the main gay character was not a burden to his family, but rather a benefit. We don’t see it very often on screen where gay characters are the ones most responsible, but we should.