➤ FAMILY TREE, from p.26
but I also wanted to keep Victor’s
optimism and the life Victor
wants. He accepts that falling in
love with Roy was not sustainable.
It was fantasizing and wanting a
bestscenario, but also respecting
that Roy would share himself only
to the point he could.
KRAMER: The fi lm offers a very
fl uid portrait of sexuality. Can you
talk about how you see the sexuality
of the characters, Victor in particular?
ROENKE:I like that Jorge
Ameer makes “straight guys and
the gay men who love them fi lms.”
He talks about gay and straight,
and there is a spectrum for love.
There are people who are surprised
they fall in love with people of the
same sex. I saw Victor as pansexual
from an early age. His relationship
with women, including Alina,
didn’t work out. He knows where
he’s at, but he has a confl ict with
his father. In his own acceptance
of himself, I never saw this as Victor’s
coming out story. He knew
whom he loved but was never able
➤ DATING AMBER, from p.26
ing the breasts of Tracey (Emma
Willis), a student he kisses — but
only under duress.
Freyne punctures masculine
egos throughout “Dating Amber,”
because, he said, “We still live in
a hyper-masculine world. Back
then, it was such a lad culture.
It felt incredibly suffocating to
be around that, and not just for
young gay men. I wanted to show
how damaging that culture was for
Eddie’s dad, who doesn’t know how
to express himself because of that
toxic masculine culture. I think
masculinity is inherently funny
and trying to be manlyand male—
it’s such bullshit. Being macho is
a joke, and really macho lads hate
being made fun of.”
Wistfully, the fi lmmaker recalled,
“I was such a repressed
teen, and I tried to be manly, but
how much of that is me and how
much is a hangover of that act?
Had I grown up in a far more open
society, would I be more camp
now? When you spent 20 years so
repressed, you can’t strip all that
away from your behavior.”
Keith Roenke and Michael Joseph Nelson.
to announce it. He tries telling his
father to open that gate and it’s
shut down quickly. But I think Victor
is looking for love and is open
to all of it.
KRAMER: Victor is heartbroken
but incredibly selfl ess. Roy and
Alina ask Victor to do something
rather signifi cant. Without giving
anything away, do you embrace
ROENKE: That was a Jorge
Ameer plot point. It’s an awkward
As “Dating Amber” shows, the
scrawny Eddie’s efforts to act
manly only increases his internalized
“That was the case for me,”
Freyne admitted. “And that can be
a hard thing to do with fi lm, because
you don’t have that inner
monologue. Eddie has concerns,
fears, and worries about being gay.
He genuinely hopes to be straight.
But Amber tells him, ‘It’s not other
people, it’s you.’ We’re used to vicious
bullies and the church, but
within that there is a far more
complicated battle with your own
The fi lm deftly captures the tension
around sexuality — thanks in
no small part to the pitch-perfect
turns by O’Shea and Petticrew.
Freyne observed about his coleads,
“They have different struggles.
Amber is more accepting
but can’t fathom being gay in her
hometown. Eddie just can’t fathom
The fi lm generates much of its
humor from the interactions between
its queer teens. When Edsion,
situation but we made it a beautiful
scene. There was passion between
the characters. It’s legit that
it was just Victor selfl essly fi nding
his purpose in this scenario. With
the melodrama, I tried to take in
the emotion of losing someone you
want to be your partner in life. I
hope that came across. It is never
great to feel pain, they were moving
scenes for me.
KRAMER: Victor talks about
fate and destiny and signs. Are you
a believer in such things?
ROENKE:Absolutely. I was
small town guy who grew up in the
Protestant Church. I turned away
from it and was agnostic. I’m now
a certifi ed teacher/ trainer of Kundalini
yoga and that connected
me to my spiritual side, the ethereal,
passing moments and chance
meetings. That side of Victor came
naturally to me.
KRAMER: Victor fi nds comfort
not just in Christmas, but in animals,
perhaps more than people.
What gives you comfort?
ROENKE:I am an animal lover.
I have a 16 year-old cat named
George that has lived with me
most of my adult live. He’s my spiritual
partner in many ways. I have
always had spiritual connections,
whether with animals or people. I
have a thousand people I can run
into and give a massive hug because
we’ve had awesome experiences
THE FAMILY TREE | Directed by
Jorge Ameer | Hollywood Independents
| Opens Nov. 6 through
Laemmle Virtual Cinema | watch.
➤ DATING AMBER continued on p.29
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GayCityNews.com | November 05 - November 18, 2020 27