I attended a Catholic university, where a few scripture classes were mandatory.
One of the things I learned in these classes is that the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. I was raised on this, as well. But my mother, a staunch believer in loving everyone no matter what, never instilled hatred in me toward anyone.
So even though I know homosexuality is wrong, I can’t bring myself to hate homosexuals.
In Kareem Mortimer’s film, Children of God, a young, white Bahamian artist named Jonny (played by Johnny Ferro) learns to let down his guard and open himself up to love. Meanwhile, Lena (Margaret Laurena Kemp) is in denial about her husband, Ralph’s (Mark Ford) extra-marital affairs with other men.
In order to escape their negative predicaments in Nassau, Lena and Jonny journey to Eleuthera, another island in the Bahamas. While there, Lena reconnects with her old friend, the Rev. Ritchie (Van Brown), and Jonny finds love in Romeo (Stephen Tyrone Williams), a black Bahamian musician.
“I feel very proud to have the first Bahamian film,” Mortimer, a Nassau native, said about his first feature length film’s acceptance into the 27th Annual Miami International Film Festival.
The festival comes to Miami Beach on March 13. This year, the festival is screening 15 films from 45 countries.
“Some of the public may have a particular idea of what the Bahamas is,” Mortimer said. “It is gratifying to show a different side.”
The theme of this film is best summarized by the 29-year-old writer/director himself: “Children of God speaks to how fear and violence work together to destroy.”
Indeed, Lena’s mission in the film is to get a petition signed by Bahamian citizens to ban gay rights on the island. Romeo, who is considered by his family a straight man with a fiancée, has not come out of the closet.
What I like most about this story is that nothing is black and white, literally and figuratively. Even though there are blacks and whites in the film, the division is between gay and straight.
Lena, who is supposed to be a champion of God’s will, including sexual relations only between married men and women, stays in Rev. Ritchie’s house, although both of them are married to other people.
No one in this film is purely good and no one is purely evil, which is true for most human beings.
On another note, I am so glad that Mortimer decided to show a different and awesome side of the Bahamas. If I wasn’t drooling over Williams’ beautiful, dark chocolate body, I was silently jealous of the characters, for they were able to view the beauty of the oceans, beach, greenery and general loveliness of the island of Eleuthera.
This film is so chock full of Bahamian beauty, I am a hair away from packing a bag and disappearing to the island myself.
“At the heart of Children of God, I wanted to tell a love story. Then, I decided to throw in elements of race, politics, religion and homophobia,” said Mortimer, a 2001 graduate of Miami International University of Art and Design, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in filmmaking.
The central plot line is the burgeoning love between Romeo and Jonny. As a raging heterosexual, I have to say that I was drawn to their new love, though I wish Mortimer had explored the political charge of his film in a deeper way. The tension is there, but the few snippets of soap-boxing by religious figures in the film seem more like a nuisance than an integral part.
Williams and Kemp are the standout actors in this film. Williams, with his perfect body and tendency toward exhibitionism, is superb. Kemp, who bares all herself, is quite good: I’m not sure whether to love or hate her character because she is always off the mark. But she seems to mean well; I think.
All in all, I did enjoy Children of God. It sends a clear message to its audience that we are all human beings, no matter what our lifestyle, and that we should love each other unconditionally.
There will also be a screening on 9 p.m. Sunday, March 14 at the Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St., in the Little Havana, Miami.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHILDRENOFGODTHEMOVIE.COM. A scene from the film, Children of God, by Bahamian filmmaker Kareem Mortimer.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Children of God screening at the 27th Annual Miami International Film Festival
WHEN: 9:30 p.m. March 13
COST: Check festival website for event prices and festival packages.
CONTACT: 305-405-MIFF (6433) or www.miami-filmfestival.com
For more information on Kareem Mortimer or Children of God, you can visit www.childrenofgodthemovie.com.