Shadowlands TV series

Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES – Director Statement

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For all our international friends – please rent Shadowlands TV series here on Vimeo!

Also available on Amazon in the USA and UK.

 

Format  The Shadowlands TV series is a miniseries of three episodes by director Charlie David exploring love –a narcissist grasping to comprehend it (Ep. 1 Narcissus), a couple renegotiating a relationship (Ep. 2 Mating Season) and star-crossed lovers mourning its loss (Ep. 3 Pygmalion Revisited).

The stories transition from one to the next in an anthology fashion and may be watched together and thought of as one film.  (Such as in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Four Rooms or Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales.)

Each episode in the Shadowlands TV series has a companion digital media component such as music videos or an exploration of the artists and technicians involved. 

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 1: NARCISSUS

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus bed

Synopsis – Alex, a plastic surgeon hell bent on perfection, hosts a house party with an assortment of colorful guests.  Amid romantic misfires it becomes apparent that the only person Alex is interested in is himself.

Theme – The pursuit of perfection may become deadly when left unchecked.  This theme is explored in a less extreme fashion in Director Charlie David‘s documentary STUDlebrity.

 Setting  – Mansion.  Era is modern but with the influence of 1920’s Berlin.  People exploring their sexual freedom and new cosmetic surgeries in the pursuit of perfection. 

Companion webisode – In the companion webisode, we explore the costume design in Narcissus.    

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 2: MATING SEASON  Oscar Moreno in Shadowlands TV series

Synopsis – A couple explore the idea of opening their relationship while on a remote camping trip when they encounter a mysterious stranger.

Theme – In every culture since time began there have been stories of apparitions. The causes of such phenomena are continually under speculation. It seems that no matter how much data, first-hand accounts and theories are collected, the question ‘Do Ghosts Exist’ is one that may never be answered…

Setting  – 1951 post WWII forest

Companion webisode: In the companion webisode, we’ll explore the history of the WWII hit song, My Buddy.  A male duet of the song was recorded for the soundtrack as well as a music video featuring clips from Mating Season.  

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 3: PYGMALION REVISITED

Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands
Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’

Synopsis – Rudy is a painter who in mourning the loss of his lover and becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful, so life like that he is drawn under its spell.

Theme – Star-crossed lovers whose romance is cut short by the shears of fate.

Setting  – Present day artist’s loft.   

 Companion webisode: The companion webisode is a behind the scenes look at the creation of the life-size paintings and how the VFX team brought it to life.    

A music video, Ça va, featuring actor and singer Marc Devigne was also created utilizing clips from the Pygmalion Revisited episode.

THE WORLD of the SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES

Shadowlands is a fantasy world much like our own but where there are paranormal occurrences.

Each episode is in the Shadowlands TV series its own microcosm.  The characters and stories do not overlap directly BUT there are ‘Easter Eggs’ for our audience in the form of allusions to the other stories/worlds in each episode.

This may be in the appearance of a minor character in two stories.  Or within set décor, music or a prop.  For example:

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EASTER EGGS

Shadowlands Easter Egg 1:  The character of Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) belongs in the world of NARCISSUS but in the film festival version of Shadowlands – switches a record on the gramophone with the episode titles to segue between each story.   

Shadowlands TV show Gramophone Percy Katt Narcissus

Gramophones are hidden throughout the Shadowlands TV show episodes.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 2: Gramophones can also be spotted in one of two black and white photographs depicted as Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) by Durban artist Andreas Chasomeris from his photographic collection titled ‘The Gray Scale 1946”.   These hang on either side of the mirror in his dungeon in NARCISSUS.

Gramophone seen in photos of Alex in his dungeon scenes in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’
Shadowlands 'Narcissus' starring Sean C. Dwyer as Alex.
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in his dungeon in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 3: A gramophone can also be spotted in a painting titled DARE NOT (2014) by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris in PYGMALION REVISITED which hangs by Rudy and Xavier’s bed.

Dare Not by Andreas Chomeris. Painting in the gay TV series Shadowlands
Charlie David as Rudy in Shadowlands ‘Pygmalion Revisited’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 4: The man flying fishing in the opening montage of ‘Mating Season’ is seen at the eccentric house party in ‘Narcissus’.

Jim Garrow as Fly Fisherman in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus and episode 2 Mating Season
Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) and Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 5: In MATING SEASON, the characters Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) are negotiating their relationship and end up having a threesome with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis).  This episode endorses the idea of non-monogamy and polyamory.

The threesome scene in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands

The character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS makes disparaging remarks about the Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) and their sexual proclivities in the dungeon.  Alex ultimately punishes the Bunny Boys for ‘behaving like a couple of swine.’  In this episode non-monogamy is challenged.

Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy as the Bunny Boys with Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in the Narcissus episode of the gay TV series Shadowlands

Shadowlands Easter Egg 6: The theme of war is explored in MATING SEASON with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) receiving a dishonorable discharge in the form of a blue ticket.  Will (Nicolas James Wilson) has a monologue about what scares him about his job as a sailor.

Shadowlands TV series episode 3 'Mating Season'
Oscar Moreno, Nicolas James Wilson and Vasilios Filippakis in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Mating Season’

War is also a theme in NARCISSUS.  Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) urges Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) that life before the war (allusion to WWI) wasn’t perfect and neither were any of us.  Alex’s relentless pursuit of perfection to fix people (beginning with amputee soldiers and mustard gas victims) takes on a life of its own in the roaring 1920’s of Berlin.

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus
Narcissus with Sean C. Dwyer and Natasha Balkrishnan

Shadowlands Easter Egg 7: The cinematography in MATING SEASON of an overhead view of Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) laying perpendicular on a blanket while they agree to open their relationship is mirrored in PYGMALION REVISITED with Rudy (Charlie David) and Xavier (Marc Devigne) in a memory sequence.  Rudy is likening their relationship to Greek myth with the line, ‘Eros and Psyche intertwined under the heavy branches of an olive tree, blissfully unaware of the passage of centuries.’

Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) in Shadowlands ‘Mating Season’
Xavier (Marc Devigne) and Rudy (Charlie David) in the Pygmalion Revisited episode of the Shadowlands TV series.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 8: MATING SEASON is at its core a classic ghost story. 

Shadowlands TV series Mating Season

The theme of apparitions is echoed in PYGMALION REVISITED in Rudy’s dream as well as in his flashbacks of the film he and Xavier were watching on their movie night. 

The film is The Terror (1963) in which Lt. Andre Duvalier (Jack Nicholson) is haunted by the Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff) to suicide from his guilt.

Shadowlands episode 3 'Pygmalion Revisited' The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff)
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 9: The castle spires seen in The Terror (1963) movie are echoed by the spires of the church that Rudy (Charlie David) walks into in PYGMALION REVISITED.

Shadowlands series - church spires from film The Terror 1963
Shadowlands series – church spires from film The Terror 1963
Shadowlands series - church spires
Church spires seen in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 10: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is given a copper box with white Calla Lilies hiding a revolver in NARCISSUS.   

Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) receives Calla Lilies in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) receives Calla Lilies in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus

In the dungeon scenes in NARCISSUS there are red Calla Lilies laying on the table in which Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) keeps his torture tools.

Calla lilies in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Calla lilies in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

In PYGMALION REVISITED, Xavier (Marc Devigne) requests Rudy (Charlie David) to have Calla Lilies at his funeral because ‘they’re my favorite, but you already knew that.’  Calla Lilies figure prominently around Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED and ultimately Rudy paints Xavier holding one in his final painting.

Shadowlands TV series Pygmalion Revisited

Calla lily at the end of Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Calla lily at the end of Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited

Shadowlands Easter Egg 11: A painting that sits sideways in Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED is a reference to Alex in NARCISSUS.  It is titled ‘The Devil is…1931’ (2015) by Andreas Chasomeris and is another allusion to the roaring 20s in Berlin.  On the wall behind the man in the painting is a poster of the Marlene Dietrich film The Devil is a Woman (1935). 

The Devil is 1939 by South African artist Andreas Chomeris featured in Shadowlands episodes Narcissus and Pygmalion Revisited.
The Devil is a Woman starring Marlene Dietrich

Shadowlands Easter Egg 12: The Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) are tied up in Alex’s dungeon in NARCISSUS. 

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy
The bunny boys (Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy) are kept captive by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer)

In PYGMALION REVISITED there is a painting of two men tied up beside Xavier & Rudy’s bed.  It’s open to interpretation whether one man is tying up or untying the other.  On one of the man’s shirtsleeves is sewn a pink triangle – a sign meant to identify and demoralize homosexuals, similar to the Star of David for the Jewish people, that the Nazis enforced in the lead up to WWII.  

Finally in this painting there is a gramophone in the corner of the room.  The gramophone and changing of the record by Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) is the first image we see in NARCISSUS as well as a recurring motif in the film festival version of SHADOWLANDS.   The painting is titled DARE NOT (2014) and is by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris as part of his 1939 show.  

Dare Not by painter Andreas Chomeris featured in the Shadowlands episode Pygmalion Revisited.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 13: Xavier (Marc Devigne) has left the painting in the final frames of PYGMALION REVISITED.  He’s crossed over from death to life and tragically Rudy (Charlie David) has crossed from life to death. 

Xavier exits the painting in Shadowlands TV series
Xavier exits the painting in Shadowlands TV series

There is hope for their ultimate reunion by way of a painting of two naked men in an embrace which the camera slowly pulls out from in the opening party montage in NARCISSUS.  The painting was originally created in 2007 by Scottsdale, Arizona artist James Angel for Charlie David’s film MULLIGANS in which his character Chase also plays a painter. 

Charlie David as the young painter ‘Chase’ in his film Mulligans.
Shadowlands Narcissus – the Easter Egg painting by James Angel originally seen in Charlie David’s film Mulligans.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 14: The song ‘Ça va’ written by Montreal musician Michael Daniel Murphy and performed in PYGMALION REVISITED by Xavier (Marc Devigne) is also hummed by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS after he kills the Bunny Boys.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 15: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) threatens suicide by lethal injection in NARCISSUS. 

Thalia threatens suicide by lethal injection in Shadowlands TV show episode 1 Narcissus
Thalia threatens suicide by lethal injection in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus

Rudy (Charlie David) assists Xavier’s (Marc Devigne) death and ultimately commits suicide in PYGMALION REVISITED.

Assisted death in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Assisted death in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Suicide in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Suicide in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

The ‘play within the play’ or The Terror archival film clips in PYGMALION REVISITED include a scene where The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the Baron (Boris Karloff) to take his own life. She consoles him by saying, ‘my own hand will guide you.  And we can be together forever. Forever.’

The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the suicide of the Baron (Boris Karloff) in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the suicide of the Baron (Boris Karloff) in Rudy (Charlie David’s) dream.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 16: There are black and white framed photos done in the style of Paraty, Brasil artist Aecio Sarti (two faces conjoined) of  Rudy & Xavier in PYGMALION REVISITED and of Thalia and Alex in NARCISSUS.

Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti painting
A painting by Aecio Sarti is seen in the background in episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited.
Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti style photograph
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Aecio Sarti painting
Aecio Sarti painting

Visit Aecio Sarti’s website and learn more about this world renowned artist.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 17: In PYGMALION REVISITED Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) commissions Rudy (Charlie David) for a painting of Saint Bacchus.  Saint Bacchus is most commonly paired with Saint Sergius and they are known as erastai or lovers. 

Saints Sergius and Bacchus Alessio Ciani (1946 - living) Italy 2013
Alessio Ciani (1946 – living) Italy. © 2013
Mounted on wood, printed on canvas with frame and halos hand painted with acrilic gold

For centuries Sergius and Bacchus were upheld as ‘gay Saints’, often depicted in icons and statuary together.  Saints Sergius and Bacchus were martyred and the tale of how Bacchus came to Sergius in a dream before he died and promised they would be reunited in heaven is relayed to Rudy by Father Malik in the first scene of PYGMALION REVISITED.    

Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) comissions a painting of Saints Sergius and Bacchus from Rudy (Charlie David) in Shadowlands TV series episode 3Pygmalion Revisited
Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) comissions a painting of Saints Sergius and Bacchus from Rudy (Charlie David) in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited

In 1969 the Catholic church de-canonized Sergius and Bacchus and their churches, alters and art were renamed or destroyed.  Coincidentally 1969 was also the year of the Stonewall Riots and what we now mark as the beginning of gay liberation – Pride.

Read more about Saints Sergius and Bacchus here.

GREEK MYTHOLOGY REFERENCES IN SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES

Shadowlands Easter Egg 18: Xavier (Marc Devigne) wears a gold medallion of Zeus throughout PYGMALION REVISITED which is later claimed and worn by Rudy. 

Xavier (Marc Devigne) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Xavier (Marc Devigne) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Rudy (Charlie David) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Rudy (Charlie David) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Zeus coin pendant
Zeus coin pendant

In the original Greek mythology of Pygmalion and Galatea, Athena empathizes with Pygmalion and brings his statue Galatea to life. 

The goddess Athena taking pity on Pygmalion and bringing his statue to life.
The goddess Athena taking pity on Pygmalion and bringing his statue to life.

Zeus is known as a jealous and vengeful god and the ultimate tragedy in PYGMALION REVISITED may be interpreted as his revenge at Athena showing undue empathy to mortals.

Statue of Zeus

Rudy references several gods in PYGMALION REVISITED while contemplating how to complete his commission of a painting of Saint Sergius from Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan).  Among these are Pallas Athena, Heracles, Eros, Psyche, and Zeus. 

Shadowlands Easter Egg 19: In MATING SEASON, Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) can be imagined as the incarnate god Pan known for trickery of travelers in the woods as well as his sexual appetite.

The Greek god Pan represented in Shadowlands TV series episode 2 Mating Season in the character of Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis)
The Greek god Pan represented in Shadowlands episode 2 Mating Season in the character of Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 20: In NARCISSUS, the character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) represents the title role while the character of Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is his cast off lover, the nymph Echo.  Echo is also alluded to in the final exchange between Alex and Drew (Brian Woodford) when Drew echoes each of Alex’s lines.

Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
Narcissus is a painting by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, painted circa 1597–1599
Shadowlands TV series inspiration for episode 1 Narcissus
Echo and Narcissus (John William Waterhouse, 1903, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 21: The dimensions of Rudy’s (Charlie David’s) art studio in Pygmalion Revisited are the divine ratio used in Greco-Roman architecture as well as classical art. The divine ratio or golden mean is found throughout nature, art and architecture such as the Great Pyramid in Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Great Mosque of Kairouan. In art it is found in Leonardo da Vinci’s illustrations of polyhedra in ‘De divina proportione’,

Golden Mean ratio in the Pygmalion Revisited home of Rudy (Charlie David) & Xavier (Marc Devigne)
Golden Mean ratio in the Pygmalion Revisited home of Rudy (Charlie David) & Xavier (Marc Devigne)

Salvador Dalí explicitly used the golden ratio in his masterpiece, The Sacrament of the Last Supper. Mondrian has been said to have used the golden section extensively in his geometrical paintings.

Charlie David's Phi tattoo seen in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Charlie David’s Phi tattoo seen in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

The actor Charlie David has tattoos of the Fibonacci sequence on his inner left wrist identifying his personal numerology of 3-5-8 and the symbol Phi on his inner right wrist which correlates to the Fibonacci sequence. If a Fibonacci number is divided by its immediate predecessor in the sequence, the quotient approximates the Divine Ratio or Phi.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 22: in episode 1 Narcissus, Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) stands on a silver statue of an owl.  A statue of the goddess Athena is seen in the background.

The owl is the totem animal of Athena and she is known as the goddess of wisdom.  In this scene Thalia is trying to save Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) from his ultimate demise by offering wisdom that could ultimately save him from himself.

Athena, goddess of Wisdom
Athena, goddess of Wisdom ancient coin with her totem animal, the owl on the reverse side.
Statue of Athena hidden in plain sight in a scene in Shadowlands Narcissus
Statue of Athena hidden in plain sight in a scene in Shadowlands Narcissus
Thalia stands on the totem animal of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus.
Thalia stands on the totem animal of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus.

Additional wardrobe, props and set decor from the three episodes in the Shadowlands TV series may be hidden in plain sight allowing for an immersive re-watch for the curious viewer.

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

If you enjoyed this, explore interviews with cast members of the Shadowlands series.

Charlie David (director of the Shadowlands series)

Marc Devigne (Xavier in episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’ of the Shadowlands series.

Oscar Moreno (Matteo in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Sean C. Dwyer (Alex in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of the Shadowlands miniseries)

Nicolas James Wilson (Will in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Vasilios Filippakis (Daniel in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of Shadowlands)

Brian Woodford (Drew in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands gay series)

Natasha Balakrishnan (Thalia in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands

 

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HIV+ Youth doc talk with Charlie David

“When the subject of doing a documentary on HIV+ youth surfaced it scared me.  That’s also how I knew it was a good idea.”

What inspired you to make a documentary on HIV+ youth?

I was in New York meeting with LOGO TV network and we were throwing around ideas – when the subject of doing a documentary on HIV+ youth surfaced it scared me.  That’s also how I knew it was a good idea.  I knew it would not be an easy film to make in terms of finding subjects willing to share their life and struggles living with a chronic illness that holds so much stigma in our society.  The most dramatic rise in new transmissions is in our youth – why?  It’s time we re-examine the illness and our ideas surrounding it.

 

HIV+ youth - Charlie David photo by Ronald Tan

Charlie David photo by Ronald Tan

What was your process for choosing HIV+ youth to follow in the documentary?

The face of HIV is the human face.  It does not discriminate.  It was important to me that I show subjects from different socio-economic backgrounds, a mix of ethnicities and sexuality.  It was not easy to find my subjects – I had a lot of people say no which is understandable.  Often HIV positive people face so much stigma within their workplace, families, friends, potential relationships and society at large that the thought of then opening their lives to be in forty-five million television sets in homes across the USA is scary to say the least.  Slowly and surely I found brave young people willing to share and the stories are very powerful.

What separates your film from other HIV related documentaries?

We’ve seen a lot of important retrospective films on HIV/AIDS.  I wanted to do something different and so focusing on the population that is most at risk today and yet facing a very different disease than the epidemic of the last thirty years made sense.  HIV is now a chronic illness meaning that it is manageable with treatment and the likelihood is that a positive person will live a long and healthy life comparable to a negative person aside from the burden of meds and facing the emotional and psychological stress of discrimination.

Do you think it’s harder for people to deal with HIV today than before?

I think overall it’s easier for HIV+  youth and people of all ages now because of the amazing advances in science, medicine and our understanding of how HIV works within our bodies.  We’ve had a shift in the first world from a fear of dying to fear of segregation and potential to find love.  In the end that’s the greatest sadness I witnessed in making the film – the fear these young people had of never finding someone who would accept and love them regardless of their HIV positive status.

 WATCH POSITIVE YOUTH on your favorite platform.

    

Do you think this film will help others better understand the HIV+ youth of today?

In the film we discuss what it felt like to get the HIV positive diagnosis, the fear of disclosure, trying to make sense of all the information, building support systems, advocacy, and hope for the future.  Similar to the movement for racial, gender or sexuality equality – the first step is removing fear and that most often comes in the form of education.  The four stars in the film bare their hearts and souls.  They offer themselves as accessible and relatable and I hope that audiences will be able to empathize, to gain a greater understanding and to start seeing the human faces and not just the illness.

What can people do to help and support HIV+ youth?

I think the most important thing we can do right now is get ourselves up to date with sex education and the current state of HIV as individuals.  Then the individual can begin to marshal and politely correct her/his peers when a stigmatizing comment comes up.  That’s really step one.  We need to embrace positive people in our society and stop seeing them as fearful or the other.  That’s where the healing really begins for everyone.  I think we also need to listen to our youth and find out where we have failed them in terms of safe sex education.  How do we ‘speak’ to them through education more effectively?

Watch Director Charlie David interviewed by NeverApart Creative Director Michael Venus.

FIND OUT MORE WITH THIS IN-DEPTH ARTICLE ABOUT MAKING THE DOCUMENTARY, POSITIVE YOUTH.

 WATCH POSITIVE YOUTH on your favorite platform.

     


 

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Positive Youth documentary

The film follows four HIV positive youth as they confront the challenges of life, love, dating and the pursuit of happiness in the face of the virus.

HIV POSITIVE YOUTH DOCUMENTARY REVEALS A SHOCKING NEW REALITY

The film follows four HIV positive youth as they confront the challenges of life, love, dating and the pursuit of happiness in the face of the virus. First identified in the United States in 1981, HIV has become one of the world’s most widespread pandemics. Wrongly labeled a “gay plague” in its early days, this non-discriminating virus affects more than 41 million people across the globe, regardless of their sex, orientation or socio-economic status. But what is it like to be a millennial HIV Positive Youth of today?

Positive Youth gay film

With huge leaps being made in vaccine research and the development of drugs that significantly reduce transmission, there is now new hope for those living with HIV. However, public and political complacency, as well as a lack of education, still foster an environment shaped by the fears and stigmas born in the AIDS panic of the 1980s.

In an effort to change these perceptions, LOGO TV’s documentary “Positive Youth” shines a light on the new reality of living HIV+. The film follows four dynamic youth, ages 18 to 27 who are either infected or affected by HIV. Proving that the next generation is not backing down, the subjects offer an uncensored look into the challenges of dating, living and loving with HIV.

“I felt there was a huge disconnect in the public with the advancements in HIV medicine and the affliction by the general population,” said the film’s director, Charlie David. “We made this documentary to educate those who know little of HIV, to shed light on the rise of HIV infection among today’s youth and to give inspiration to people living with HIV that they are not alone, nor should be seen as a danger to society.”

Each of the four subjects feature a dynamic perspective on the reality of living positive today: a straight 18-year-old First Nations woman living in an impoverished rural town, a gay 25-year-old white urbanite, a 23-year-old African American YouTube figure and a 27-year-old club kid jet-setter.  Medical and psychological experts also weigh in to provide up-to-date facts and a historical context to the reality of living positively.

“Thirty years after the discovery of HIV, we now have the tools to turn this pandemic around. It is important to understand that medication is a key part of prevention,” said film subject and Arizona native Austin Head. “In my case, the medication I take, made by Gilead, has reduced the virus in my system to undetectable levels and eliminated nearly all possibility of transmission to a loved one. There are still a lot of people who don’t know they have options and participating in the film provided me a great chance to share that story.”

Whoopi Goldberg (The View),This is a very important documentary, this isn’t over and it’s affecting our youth.

Sir Elton JohnBy all means, take a look at this film.”

 WATCH POSITIVE YOUTH on your favorite platform.

   

Positive Youth is a one hour documentary which follows four HIV positive youth (late teens to 27) in four different N. American cities in cinéma vérité style.

Growing up in the 1980s and 90s we were hammered with terrifying statistics of HIV/AIDS. Thirty years in, we are still learning. What education do youth receive now and why is the youth infection rate still the highest?

We have seen retrospective documentaries on the AIDS crisis and interviews with survivors but what about the positive youth of today? We aim to feature accessible and inspirational individuals and the often-rocky road that they’ve traveled to get here.

Each of the four subjects have been selected to create a dynamic perspective on the reality of living positive today. Medical and psychological experts weigh in to provide up-to-date facts and a historical context to the reality of living positively.

In life we are inherently afraid of the unknown: of death. Positive Youth shows this in action by exploring the social stigma these young people must rise above each day.

The main conflict will lie with our audience. We intend to have our subjects, and our audience answer difficult questions about their own level of discrimination when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Ultimately we want the audience to feel educated with a new sense of empathy and understanding for positive people.

Vancouver, Toronto, Orlando, Phoenix, New York, Victoria – a straight 18-year-old economically challenged Indigenous woman, a gay 25-year-old white urbanite, a 27-year-old club kid jet-setter, and a black 23-year-old young man.  HIV does not discriminate.

For the first time, HIV Positive Youth open their homes and hearts to us – offering a no holds barred access into their lives.

 WATCH POSITIVE YOUTH on your favorite platform.

       

 

HIV Positive Youth - Rakiya Larkin

Following in her mom’s footsteps: 18-year-old Rakiya Larkin

“Without her strength I would not be who I am today; I cannot imagine life without her. Her strength and love radiates off of her,” says Rakiya Larkin of her mother, Kecia. Although Rakiya has grown up HIV-negative she has become a strong community activist, encouraged by her mother, friends and family.

For the past eleven summers, she has attended Camp Moomba, a camp for kids affected by or living with HIV. This summer Rakiya took on the role of a counselor – a leadership position that she takes very seriously. “I have realized, overall, I cannot save everyone at camp nor can I make sure that everyone is taking their medication. What I can do is support everyone to the best of my ability – and hope that they are loving life and enjoying themselves to the best of their ability.”

“We should have a voice in making the world a better place: we have the knowledge and the skills to change the outcome for future generations,” she says. This message is echoed through Larkin’s own life path and choices: in July 2010, she was crowned Miss Victoria Island. Being an inspiration to future generations is a gift she learned from her mother.

When asked what message she would like to give HIV+ teens of today, Rakiya says, “Take advantage of the one life you have; you not only hurt yourself when you don’t take your medications and take care of yourself, you hurt everyone around you who loves you. All I have to say is that I love you, never give-up on yourself and trust that at the end of the day everything will be all right. Have faith.”

HIV Positive Youth - Austin Head

Club Kid Extraordinaire – Austin Head

Austin Head has achieved distinction by succeeding in his performance art at every step of development with a mission to bring something unique and innovative to entertainment. Beginning in Phoenix, Arizona, Austin quickly became popular with his song Label Whore which manifested into a four day music video release event drawing 3000+ people to the largest bars in Phoenix.

Austin Head has been featured in countless publications and newspapers, heard performing live over the air-waves, and seen performing at the biggest nightclubs in the country.

Austin Head has now relocated to New York City to build upon everything Phoenix has given him. After only a brief time in NYC, Austin Head has now become a bi-coastal entertainer, musician and DJ working along side NYC’s top talent. Upon discovering he is HIV+ Austin began the dating website PositivelyFrisky.com as a safe and confidential place for positive people to meet.

 HIV Positive Youth - Christopher Brooks

 23, Black & Positive – Christopher Brooks

I am HIV positive, and I don’t blame anybody for it — not myself or anybody else.

We are encouraged to think about prevention and transmission in terms of responsibility. Someone must be at fault. Culturally, we hunt for secret villains. Today’s “down low” black man is but the latest boogeyman at which we’ve pointed our fingers — the latest of the so-often racialized monsters at which we can direct HIV blame rather than have honest conversations about sex and relationships.

HIV disproportionately affects African Americans, regardless of sexuality. They account for half of the people living with HIV/AIDS, but just 13 percent of the overall U.S. population. Studies also suggest African Americans are least likely to know their HIV status, with the youth being less aware. Similar patterns exist among men who have sex with men, of all races. No talking and no testing, just finger pointing.

Christopher is not one to point fingers – he is an outspoken advocate with his own Youtube channel called TheRedLife where he publicly discusses his journey of living positive and answers questions from his followers.

 EXPERT WEIGH-IN

HIV Positive Youth - Dr. Frank Spinelli

 

Dr. Frank Spinelli is the former Clinical Director of HIV Services at New York City’s Cabrini Medical Center. Today, he serves the community in a more comprehensive capacity as a board certified internist, with a large HIV Positive Youth and gay men’s health private practice in Manhattan.

Dr. Spinelli is also an Associate Clinical Professor of New York Medical College.

Dr. Spinelli is the monthly healthcare columnist for The Advocate, the oldest continuing gay publication in the United States and the host of Ask the Doctor on Advocate.com. He appears regularly on Sirius radio’s top-rated Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. Dr. Spinelli maintains a full lecture schedule where he is able to speak on gay men’s health and HIV Positive Youth.

HIV Positive Youth - Dr. Silvia Guillemi

Dr. Silvia Guillemi is the Director of the Clinical Education and Training program at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. She also works as the Clinical Coordinator in the John Ruedy Immunodeficiency Clinic (IDC), a collaboration between the BC Centre for Excellence and Providence Health Care.

 

 HIV Positive Youth - Neil Giuliano Photo by Tom Tingle|The Republic

Former GLAAD President and CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Neil Guiliano.

“Hope is important, and one has to see, feel and communicate it well to be an effective leader of any cause or movement. Every day, I have the privilege of being inspired by our HIV Positive Youth clients who are responding to HIV/AIDS with honesty, integrity and grace. That gives me enormous hope. Thinking beyond our clients, we live in an age where the line between prevention and care has blurred, and scientific advances in testing and treatment have the promise to accelerate prevention efforts. That presents great hope. It also seems to me that the biomedical interventions cannot happen in a vacuum—they will require practical application to be effective. That opportunity presents great hope.

And we must eliminate the stigma that stands in the way of effective HIV prevention, testing and care without regard to age, race, sexual orientation, gender or socio-economic status. That is both a challenge and an opportunity to which I believe we will rise. I am hopeful our culture is evolving in ways that we can be more effective in this regard. So yes, I choose hope over despair, advancement over apathy, determination over defeat. I see it, I feel it, and will communicate it as best I am able. And I am confident that our mutual capacities and work together will defeat HIV/AIDS.”

CAMERA

 HIV Positive Youth Nico Stagias - Director of Photography

Positive Youth was filmed on location in Vancouver, Victoria, Phoenix, New York City, Orlando and Toronto with the use of High-Definition cameras to maximize the visual impact of the film.   The film is void of a host or narrator instead opting for the subjects telling their own stories in a cinéma vérité style.  The director of photography is Nico Stagias, pictured above.

TARGET AUDIENCE

Our target audience is primarily viewers aged 16 to 49. Our mandate is to show HIV/AIDS as a disease that ripples through every human community – including HIV Positive Youth. Certain populations are disproportionately affected – namely gay men, economically depressed communities, and in N. America our First Nations, Black and Latino populations. We have focused our story on youth 25 years and younger and believe our story will resonate specifically with mothers.

The success of Border2Border Entertainment’s other films on VOD & SVOD digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon Video On Demand, Vimeo, Vudu, Hulu, Google Play and Netflix has proven that online distribution can provide a significant source of revenue for both narrative and documentary films. Our narrative and documentary features have played at both LGBT and mainstream film festivals around the world. They have also played on an array of TV networks as diverse as Out TV Canada and LOGO to Showtime, HBO Canada, Movie Central, The Movie Network and Sundance Channel.  Positive Youth has likewise crossed over into mainstream media.

EDUCATIONAL

POSITIVE YOUTH is an excellent springboard tool for panel discussion with local youth groups and HIV/AIDS resource and support centers.

Positive Youth is distributed for universities, libraries and educational institutions in the USA through Films Media Group.

2012 – University screenings at Brown (Providence, R.I.) and Concordia (Montreal, Quebec)

2012 – Saskatchewan Provincial high school tour with Sunrise Health Region

2015 Witts University, Johannesburg South Africa

2013  Wolfsonian Museum  Miami, USA

FILM FESTIVALS

  • United States Mar 30, 2012 (Phoenix International Film Festival)
  • United States May 10, 2012 (Sacramento, California)
  • United States May 19, 2012
  • Canada May 20, 2012 (Toronto Inside Out Film Festival)
  • United States May 31, 2012 (FilmOut San Diego)
  • United States Jun 1, 2012 (Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival)
  • United States Jun 2, 2012 (Q Cinema Fort Worth Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival)
  • United States Jun 8, 2012 (Wolfsonian Museum)
  • United States Jun 16, 2012 (FRAMELINE San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival)
  • United States Jun 20, 2012 (DVD premiere)
  • United States Jul 10, 2012 (San Diego FilmOut)
  • United States Jul 14, 2012 (Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival)
  • United States Jul 21, 2012 (Cincinnati GLBT Film Festival)
  • United States Jul 25, 2012 (CNKY Scene Film Festival)
  • United States Jul 29, 2012 (Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival)
  • United States Aug 17, 2012 (Louisville LGBT Film Festival)
  • Canada Aug 25, 2012 (Out On Screen Vancouver International Film Festival)
  • United States Sep 8, 2012 (North Louisiana Gay & Lesbian Film Festival)
  • United States Sep 12, 2012 (Outflix International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival)
  • United States Sep 28, 2012 (Portland LGBT Film Festival)
  • United States Oct 8, 2012 (Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival)
  • Canada Oct 10, 2012 (Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival)
  • United States Oct 10, 2012 (Atlanta Out On Film Gay and Lesbian Film Festival)
  • United States Oct 11, 2012 (Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival – Three Dollar Bill Cinema)
  • Canada Oct 12, 2012 (Reel Pride Film Festival)
  • United States Oct 18, 2012 (Brown University)
  • United States Oct 18, 2012 (Seattle International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival)
  • Spain Nov 1, 2012 (LesGaiCineMad)
  • United States Nov 11, 2012 (Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival)
  • China Nov 17, 2012 (Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival)
  • Canada Dec 1, 2012 (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
  • Canada Dec 1, 2012 (Hamilton)
  • Canada Dec 1, 2012 (Image+Nation Montreal Gay and Lesbian Film Festival)
  • Serbia Dec 8, 2012 (Belgrade Queer Film Festival)
  • United States Jan 25, 2013 (Out in the Desert LGBT Festival)
  • Canada Feb 8, 2013 (Kingston ReelOut Queer Film and Video Festival)
  • India Feb 24, 2013 (Bangalore Queer Film Festival)
  • Canada Feb 26, 2013
  • Israel Jun 15, 2013 (Tel Aviv GLBT Film Festival)
  • Bolivia Nov 22, 2013 (Santa Cruz Festival Iberoamericano de Cine)
  • Ecuador Nov 24, 2013 (El Lugar sin Limites)
  • Spain Nov 24, 2013 (Seville European Film Festival)
  • Italy Dec 12, 2013 (Festival di Napoli)
  • Belgium Mar 6, 2014 (Tel Quels International Film Festival)
  • Canada May 1, 2014 (Ottawa LGBT Film Festival)
  • India May 23, 2014 (Kashish Mumbai Gay & Lesbian Film Festival)
  • Taiwan Sep 26, 2014 (Taipei International Documentary Festival)

MEDIA QUOTES & AWARDS

Whoopi Goldberg (The View) recently stated, “This is a very important documentary, this isn’t over and it’s affecting our youth.

Sir Elton John “By all means, take a look at this film.”

BEST DOC – Film Out San Diego
BEST SHORT DOC – Scene CNKY Film Festival

POSITIVE YOUTH is an excellent springboard tool for panel discussion with local youth groups and HIV/AIDS resource and support centers.

READ THE INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR CHARLIE DAVID to discover the most challenging parts of making this documentary.

 WATCH HIV POSITIVE YOUTH on your favorite platform.

   

 

 

 

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