Frameline had the privilege of hosting the world premiere of the film Shelter (unfortunately one of three films by that exact title this year). The central character is Zach, a surfer / skateboarder / street artist a year out of high school. He feels trapped at home as the only responsible adult willing not to abandon his 5-year-old nephew. Zach meets up with Shaun, a fellow surfer who is also the older brother of his best friend. The electricity between them challenges Zach's crumbling hetero identity, and Shaun also pushes him to expand his horizons and pursue his dreams beyond the bleak life his sister is living.
I had marked this film on my schedule, just based on "surfer boys." I'm a huge fan of the Dogtown movies (documentary Dogtown and Z Boys and fictionalized Lords of Dogtown, both by Stacy Peralta), in part because about the only thing I find sexier than a hot guy on a skateboard is a hot guy in a form-fitting wetsuit. However, as gorgeous as the surfers and the surfing scenes in this film are, Shelter is so much more than just eye candy. The scenes of Zach and Shaun in bed, while not explicit in the usual sense, are breathtaking for their emotional resonance. I was drawn into Zach's multi-layered dilemmas without feeling like I was watching a soap opera (or a Taiwanese melodrama...). I'm hard pressed to think of any element of this film that wasn't a perfect bullseye. Every few years, a film comes along that has me saying, "Hell yeah! THIS is why I come to the festival!" Shelter ranks up there with Big Eden and The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love on my list of all-time Frameline favorites from more than 15 years. Go out of your way to see this film at any opportunity.
Shelter is also the debut of a new independent production initiative by here! Networks, coming soon to Comcast cable in San Francisco. Hear, hear, here!
Shelter, dir. Jonah Markowitz, 2007 USA, 90 min., starring Trevor Wright, Brad Rowe (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss), and Tina Holmes (Edge of Seventeen)
Technorati tags: Shelter, Surfer Movies, here! Networks, Frameline, Frameline31, LGBT Film