Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: For They Know Not What They Do

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

For They Know Not What They Do
Directed by Daniel Karslake
Documentary Competition

The intersection of religion and change has rarely been a positive one throughout history, with even the advent of later-popular sects received initially with disdain and even violent suppression in many cases. There are many biblical verses and themes within Christianity especially that appear to contradict modern ideas, and only recently has there been a wave of greater acceptance of those who are different which still is far from universal. Those courageous enough to come forward and share what it is about them that stands in contrast with their faith are sadly often met with crushing disapproval that can have extremely detrimental consequences.

The experiences of four individuals who came out to their parents are profiled in this documentary. Ryan Robertson told his parents he was gay, which led to his immersion in conversion therapy in an attempt that he supported to cure himself of his homosexual urges. Sarah McBride expressed her true transgender identity and made a transition during college. Vico Báez Febo went to live with his Catholic grandmother, who threw him out when she discovered that he was gay, leading him to return to his Orlando home. Elliot Porcher had to explain to his parents that he was a transgender boy, something they eventually came to support even if they couldn’t fully comprehend it.

Bringing together these four people and their families as a way of looking at how ignorance and a lack of understanding of how they perceive the world is enormously effective. It isn’t an attack on religion, but rather a realized argument that support and a willingness to be open are so incredibly crucial in moments that can truly make or break a person’s experience. All of the parents interviewed get emotional as they discuss their initial responses to what their children tell them, expressing remorse and a desire to have done things differently given what they now know both about their own children and their identities as a whole.

Each of these four stories has a searing impact, and they are well chosen for inclusion in this project. The film’s one weakness is its balancing of multiple threads, often filling in many details about one person only to abruptly abandon them to return to another subject’s journey. Nonetheless, the film is tremendously effective, offering hopeful, productive solutions that these parents and those behind this film believe can help positively affect those who have not yet introduced the world to their true selves as well as future generations.


No comments: