Reeling 29 Part 1: An Interview with Kareem Mortimer of Children Of God

Children of God, which tackles homophobia in the Bahamas is based on the short film FLOAT, will be shown on opening night of Reeling 29: The Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival on Thursday November 4 at Showplace Icon Theater 150 W. Roosevelt at 7:00 PM.

The film explores the lives of three characters Johnny (Johnny Ferro) , a white artist who has a love affair with a handsome local man Romeo (Stephen Tyrone Williams), who is hiding his sexual identity from his parents; and Lena (Margaret Laurena Kemp), wife of a conservative closeted gay pastor who is secretly having sex with other men. Kareem Mortimer, director and producer of the film and native son of Nassau makes his directorial debut. Mortimer spoke with PrideIndex about the film and its universal message of acceptance for anyone who has ever had to conform to be part of their community.

PRIDEINDEX: Children of God premiers at the Lesbian & Gay Film Fest on Nov 4, what can movie goers expect to see?
MORTIMER: Moviegoers can expect to see an exquisitely shot well acted film from a place they may have only heard about as a vacation spot, but will get a unique and truthful perspective on the region and also be able to identify with a universal love story.

PRIDEINDEX: Children takes place in the Bahamas, which isn’t exactly known to be a gay friendly destination spot, were you concerned about how this movie would play in the Bahamas or the Caribbean for that matter?

MORTIMER: I felt that the region needs a film like this. In terms of concern of how it would play. I was only concerned whether or not it would play at all in the Caribbean and it has to date it has played in the Bahamas and Trinidad. In the Bahamas it was the opening night film of the Bahamas International Film Festival and in Trinidad it won both the audience and jury award for best film.

PRIDEINDEX: Why did you choose this subject matter for your debut film?

MORTIMER: I felt that this was a very important story to tell and I really felt that with this film in the world, I could truly make a difference.

PRIDEINDEX: Gays can identify with the lead characters in Children, are these characters based on people in your own life?

MORTIMER: What happens in the plot of the film is inspired very loosely on some news headlines. Some of the characters are pulled from my own life of being in the Bahamas.

PRIDEINDEX: What made you become a filmmaker? Name some of your mentors and/or influences.

MORTIMER: I’ve always been fascinated with stories and I come from a family and culture of storytellers.  Film, in my opinion is the medium that I chose to carry on that tradition and also it is the art form that I am in love with. Some of my influences include Werner Fassbinder, Francois Ozon, Gordon Parks and Spike Lee.

PRIDEINDEX: Where did you receive your formalized training as a filmmaker?

MORTIMER: I graduated from the film program of Miami International University of Art & Design

PRIDEINDEX: Tell us about any of your current projects.

MORTIMER: I have co-directed a second feature a family film called Wind Jammers with Ric Von Maur and I also have two films in development, a romantic comedy about body image and a drama that involves human smuggling.

PRIDEINDEX: What message do you hope movie goers will take away from this film?

MORTIMER: I hope they learn about the destructive power of hate but also the eternal power of love.

PRIDEINDEX: Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

MORTIMER: The best advice that was given to me was to continue to just go out and do it. You will instinctively know what path works for you.

PRIDEINDEX: What’s next for you?

MORTIMER: Giving Children of God all the support I can and gearing up to shoot another feature on 2011.

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