The Caribbean Film Series celebrates both Caribbean Heritage Month and LGBT Pride Month this June with “Play The Devil,” the Trinidad & Tobago set drama where religious conservatism and macho patriarchy, combined with denial and sexual suppression, culminate into a passionate reality.
In the film, 18 year-old Greg (Petrice Jones), is set to graduate and make his family and rural Trinidad village Paramin, proud their local boy is headed to medical school. However, Greg secretly desires a different life, one far-removed from his religious upbringing with his loving, yet stern Grandmother (Trinidadian theater veteran Penelope Spencer), and filled with travel and photography. When successful and handsome older businessman, James Young (Gareth Jenkins), shows an interest in Greg, the young man begins to struggle with the reality of his life, and his desires.
As Greg’s sexual and creative repressions are shed, James’ obsession increases. Soon, the return of Greg’s shiftless father’s sets off a battle of wills between the man and his older son, Fayne (Nickolai Salcedo), which further strains the family’s finances and threatens the young man’s future. As Carnival Monday approaches, when the time comes to dance for the devil and for the devil to get his due, Greg finally faces his demons through an act of pure violence, changing his life forever.
In a LargeUP interview, writer/director Maria Govan, talked about the making of the film, “One of the catalysts serving as an inspiration for this story was that of a teenaged boy in Trinidad, who committed suicide after his lover threatened to out him to his family. This was one of those stories that really broke my heart.” In her early years, Govan, who was deeply moved by the story, herself “struggled with [her] queerness and with just being different, and had [her] own sort of self-destructive path, as result.”
Describing what she hopes audiences will take away from the film, Govan states, “I wanted to look at what denial does in our lives – denial of our authentic selves and what we regard as our shadow side. I hope the film will move people emotionally – I want them to feel things and I tried to create a world and situations and characters who are multi-faceted and complex enough the audience finds it difficult to cast judgment, that touches them (the audience) in such a way, they can understand a situation and a world and relationships that might feel foreign to them but can create an empathetic space in them.”
Preceding the screening of “Play the Devil,” will be the screening of the short, “Antiman” by Guyanese filmmaker, Gavin Ramoutar. This poignant short tells the story of a boy who must prove his masculinity to his father while dealing with his attraction to an older boy.
Co-presented by the Caribbean Film Academy, BAMcinématek and the Brooklyn Cinema Collective, both films screen at BAM Rose Cinemas on Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30pm. Maria Govan, Gavin Ramoutar, and “Play The Devil” producer Abigail Hadeed will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. For more information visit the BAMcinématek website or www.caribbeanfilm.org.