ACON Northern Rivers are the co-presenters of tonight’s program at the Byron Bay International Film Festival. Showcasing the films The Skin I’m In, Hold On Tight, and Simply Rob, it’s an evening full of empowering entertainment focused on the challenges and realities faced by countless people within every community.
The evening will feature a world premiere of The Skin I’m In. As far back as 1997, filmmaker Broderick Fox was receiving substantial recognition and awards for his work. But in 2005 he was found unconscious on the Berlin subway tracks, injured from the fall and with a lethal blood alcohol level of 0.47. Lucky for him, strangers pulled him to safety.
Broderick had been given another chance at life. Forced to acknowledge how empty and unhinged his life had become, Fox made a very big decision. One that took him on a journey of body, mind and spirit. Initiating an unusual collaboration between himself, a Canadian indigenous Kwakwakan artist (Rande), and an African-American tattoo artist (Zulu), Broderick sets himself on the path to turn his life around.
The film documents the slow transformation of Broderick’s body into a living canvas. Rande supplies the design, and Zulu does the work. The design brings together three myths of personal significance, and the ritual of its realisation marks a commitment to a more integrated approach to living.
This film candidly shares the filmmaker’s history of self-abuse, spiritual neglect, and an intellectual drive that resulted in fragmenting his identity. It is a film about coming out, standing up to cultural prejudice and defining yourself through your own life experience rather than yielding to the status quo. It offers courage and hope for all individuals to chart their own path towards self-understanding and social ease.
Also screening is Simply Rob, a documentary about the challenges associated with being a young gay man. Simply Rob focuses on New York Latino poet and activist Rob Vassilarakis. Rob has a wealth of stories to tell and a gift for doing this through the creative expression of poetry.
When Rob was only 17, his world took an abrupt change of direction. His mother discovered he was homosexual, and he was therefore no longer welcome in the family home.
Cut loose and alone in a society that had yet to find its comfort zone with homosexuality, Rob lived life on a dysfunctional and abusive edge. In 1993 he was diagnosed HIV-positive. Feeling like he was out of luck and would soon be out of time, Rob chose to escape reality through substance abuse. Living with HIV in the early 1990s would have been a very lonely existence, particularly without the support of family. Rob’s downward spiral increased, eventually leaving him homeless on the streets of New York City.
Filmed during World Aids Day 2010, Simply Rob is an uplifting journey through one man’s private hell and ultimate triumphs.
And finally there’s Hold On Tight, a film about same-sex relationships. This short documentary moves between the public and private spaces in which lesbian and gay couples live, and explores small gestures of human connectedness. These gentle interactions not only carry a huge personal significance, but also the potent power to create social change. Yet for most people, being affectionate beyond the front door isn’t intended as a political statement – it’s simply an expression of love. Byron Community Centre on Thursday from 7.30pm.
Trailer for The Skin I’m In