Film: After Louie by Vincent Gagliostro – March 31, 2018. Limited run at Cinema Village on E12th St, NYC. Post screening Q & A with the director, writers, producer and two cast members.
Director: Vincent Gagliostro
Producer: Lauren Belfer, Alan Cumming, Vincent Gagliostro
Writer: Vincent Gagliostro, Anthony Johnston
Runtime: 1hr 40m
Cast: Alan Cumming, Zachary Booth, Sarita Choudhury, Patrick Breen, Wilson Cruz, Everett Quinton, Anthony Johnston, David Drake, Justin Bond and Joseph Arias.
Synopsis: After Louie explores the contradictions of modern gay life and history of the AIDS health crisis in the 1980’s through the eyes of a disillusioned visual artist and former activist, Sam.
The story of my accidental offsite event exploration goes a little something like this…
It was my birthday dinner on a Tuesday evening, New York City, late March. The location is this fantastic Italian restaurant, on the corner of Spring Street directly north of the Here Arts Space. Here in this beautiful relaxed and elegant place, with some of my closest friends, our decisions made about our food and drink. This fantastic waiter, Anthony, has been taking care of us with a casual yet personable flair, while gently steering the meal along. I am contently having a blast at this celebration, every moment is going along so deliciously. We have shared some appetizers, a couple bottles of wine, there have been commentaries back and forth peppered with boisterous laughs and great conversations. We are about to have a small dessert and, another friend arrives. Alystyre, she’s a documentary filmmaker / photographer rushing here after teaching yoga. Tea is ordered and Anthony presents the dessert slice. He then mentions that he is signing off and lets us know about a film, After Louie, his film is being screened this week at Cinema Village. Well, as things go, Alystyre strikes up a brief conversation with him and it is revealed that she was an extra on set and likely is in the party scene of his film! Coincidental but not unusual so afterwards we discuss a plan to go see it over the coming weekend. Leaving the restaurant, a few of us decide to grab a last drink at a nearby bar. We walk into Soho Room and, upon stumbling into the back area we notice Anthony, our waiter, sitting with a friend. In jest with announce that we are following him…he smiles and we wish him well and then find a corner area and settle in. The evening soon ends and I arrive safely home, falling into a satisfied slumber, a slight hangover greets me in the morning but with no regrets.
A few days later…
It’s a rainy Saturday night and I am at the Cinema Village with Alystrye. We watch the film and sure enough, she is in the party scene near the end. I well imagine that it must feel pretty amazing to see oneself on the big screen. We decide to stay for the Q & A shortly after. It was a very interesting and informative session because we had the opportunity to hear first-hand about the life and journey of activism, expression and identity in the 1970’s & 80’s with the director, Vincent, who experienced, observed and has written about these encounters. We also heard about becoming a co-writer for this project by Anthony, the fantastic waiter, and talented actor. He was eloquent and generous, it was amazing to have established this coincidental connection. Present also was Lauren, a producer, and the actors Joseph and Patrick.
Later in the theater lobby, I had the opportunity to speak with Anthony and Vincent. They are humble and lovely people, truly thrilled to be presenting this film in this particularly relevant neighborhood and, especially at this time in this country’s political status of uncertainty. I also discovered that this film opened in California a month before coming east and, will continue to be seen in various film festivals in cities world-wide over the coming months. The film is also available to view through live streaming channels.
The main themes of this film are centered around self-examination, authenticity, and multi-generational queer identities. It is a fictional story, based loosely on truthful events, of a man named Sam Cooper. He is an aging gay man, an artist and retired activist, who is seeking to honor the legacy of his departed friend, Louie, a fellow activist in the early years of AIDS/HIV health crisis in the 1980’s. We watch Sam as he brashly lives his solitary, angst ridden and alcohol imbued lifestyle, and enters quickly into a sexual relationship with a younger man who later becomes his friend. It is this encounter and the ensuing tangles of human relationships, that Sam is opened into another deeper self-examination of what it means to be ‘out’ and expressive in the world today.
This film and the journey we are on in this story is relevant to the topic of the political power of art and ethical producing of queer persons because it dives into the changing aspects of multi-generational queer identities alongside the legacy of our collective human existence in our ability and desire to explore, identify and potential to express and explore our sexual preferences and gender identification, or to choose not to identify with established norms. The experience of watching After Louie requires us as the viewer to think about and examine the ways in which we as humans stay true to where we came from while continuing to look forwards into who and how way may be ourselves. While at the same time this work also illuminates the importance of honoring the legacy of the various histories of the LGBTQ community when considering multi-generational and multi-gender tensions in today’s communities.
Here is the link to the twitter feed & photo of post screening Q & A that we attended on Sat March 31, 2018!