Nov. 07--If a junior high school student shoots a classmate dead in a classroom, you'd think it'd make headlines around the country. The 2008 murder of Larry King, however, is well-known in the LGBT community but is relatively little-known everywhere else.
That shocked Marta Cunningham. When she read about the killing of the transgender boy by a classmate -- a case Cunningham had never heard about before -- she immediately went to Oxnard, Calif., to make a documentary about it.
"I was blown away that this was happening in 2008 and it seemed to not be getting the attention that was due," she said. "It was shocking to me, the level of apathy and indifference. It was just kind of local news. ... That's wrong on so many levels."
Cunningham's heartbreaking documentary, "Valentine Road," is one of the films at the 15th annual EROS (Encouraging Respect Of all Sexualities) Film Festival, a student-run offshoot of Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which will be held Wednesday to Sunday, Nov. 13 to 17, at Cinestudio at Trinity College in Hartford.
"Valentine Road" will be shown to mark National Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is on Nov. 20. It tells the story of King, 15, who was shot during a computer lab by Brandon McInerney, 15. King, who came out of the closet at age 10 and was in the habit of wearing effeminate clothing, had asked McInerney to be his valentine, which caused McInerney to be teased by classmates.
The movie delves into not just the characters of King and McInerney but also both of their family lives. Both boys' mothers were habitual drug users. King moved from an adoptive home to a group home. McInerney was the focus of custody battles between his parents, who both had histories of violence.
"Two major themes that run throughout the film are the type of intolerance that led to Larry's death, not just from Brandon but from the environment they were surrounded by at school, and trying children as adults in the state of California," Cunningham said. "That's something we need to look at and see the ramifications."
After a lengthy legal proceeding, McInerney pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21 years.
Another film in the festival is "Geography Club." This charming comic drama, an adaptation of the teen novel by Brent Hartinger, is about a bunch of teenagers who form a high school "geography club," which is really a front for a gay support group.
Crystal Nieves, coordinator of the Queer Resource Center at Trinity, is delighted that EROS was able to include the film in the lineup.
"Books for young adults with LGBT-related content are very difficult for young people to come by unless they can purchase it from the Internet or have access to an LGBTQ resource library with fiction options," Nieves said. "This particular book has been a favorite for many of my students while they were questioning their sexuality or gender identity and navigating the complex process of coming out in school to their friends and family. It is a staple for our LGBTQ youth today."
Nieves said she hopes the festival will be able to coordinate with area high schools to bring youths to screenings. All attendees under the age of 18 will be admitted free.
"Every film with LGBT content is automatically rated R or not rated. TV shows with LGBT content are similarly rated mature audiences only and air on TV after 10 at night," she said. "It is a real gift to the LGBT community to have this film rated PG-13.
"Our youth need love stories and stories of growth and personal triumph just like everyone else. Its incredibly isolating and debilitating to the development of young LGBTQ people to not have stories in their lives and characters who are like them and share their experiences."
"Valentine Road" (89 minutes) will be shown on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m.
"Geography Club" (83 minutes) will be shown Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.
Other films at the festival include:
"The Last Match," a love story about two poor men who meet while playing street soccer in Havana. Spanish with subtitles. 94 minutes. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m.
"Reaching for the Moon," the fact-based love story between Pulitzer Prize winning poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. (118 minutes) Friday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m.
"Test," a drama set among dancers in 1980s San Francisco, about a new text for the AIDS virus. (90 minutes) Friday, Nov. 15, at 9:30 p.m.
"The Kids are All Right," the Oscar-nominated 2010 story about a lesbian couple (Annette Bening, Julianne Moore) whose children want to know their father's identity. (106 minutes) Saturday, Nov. 16, at 2:30 p.m.
"Breaking the Girls," a thriller about two female lovers who plot to kill each others' worst enemies. Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2:30 p.m. (83 minutes) A free brunch at Trinity's Queer Resource Center (114 Crescent St.) precedes the film, beginning at 1 p.m.
EROS Film Festival: Admission to each film is $9, $7 for students. For details about the films, visit www.outfilmct.org.
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