Big Apple Film Festival is proud to present this week's spotlight director, Michael Paulucci. Michael's films include Tasmanian Tiger, Shirley's Kids and Vollis Shop Road. His current film, "PRONOUNS", has screened an numerous festivals across the country, including Tribeca Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival.
PRONOUNS: An African American teenager decides to reveal their true identity during a spoken word performance only to be interrupted by an uninvited guest.
1. What initially sparked your interest in the concept for PRONOUNS?
I live in Chicago, and at the time I made the film I was living in Bucktown. My train stop was the Division Blue Line stop, and at the stop is this weird public park, fountain area. Teenagers used to congregate there and some of them would perform spoken word and rap. I later found out Young Chicago Authors, a relatively prominent youth spoken word and poetry non-profit was just around the corner. There is a Sundance doc about a slam poetry event they put on called Louder Than A Bomb, and Chance the Rapper is an alumni of the place. It's a big deal in Chicago.
This is where the idea started forming in my head around this particular story. I reached out to YCA and they gave me Patches name, and mentioned they may be interested in the project. I met with Patches and we started collaborating on the film.
2. Having worked in narratives and docs, when you choose a topic or concept for a film, how do you determine if it should be a narrative or documentary?
I consider myself a narrative writer and director, but I do make documentaries. I think it all comes down to access for me, and what the heart of the story is. Some stories just can't be told as narrative films and vice versa.
3. How is PRONOUNS different from other films you've made, such as Tasmanian Tiger?
Pronouns is completely different from Tasmanian Tiger, which is sort of this weird satirical dark comedy. However, I do feel like they sort of come from the same place though. I think both films are touching on issues of race but don't explicitly come out and state it. As a straight white male, I felt conflicted making Pronouns throughout making it and still do now. It is in no way my personal story, which is why it was so important for me to collaborate on it. I didn't write the poems that are performed in the film, and these are what make the film, in my mind. I learned so much in the making of the film about myself. Without question there are extremely talented individuals of color who are not represented enough on screen. I just hope to work with as many as I can.
4. How did you meet, and ultimately collaborate with Cagney Gentry?
I met Cagney in college. He is a good friend and collaborator.
5. What type of insight does PRONOUNS give to the trans teens? And why do you feel PRONOUNS is an important film for the public to see?
I'm not sure what sort of insight it gives them, I don't want to speak for anyone. I do hear from a lot of parents though. It is just great that it has been seen as such a positive film. I don't know if it has a necessarily happy ending, but people are reading it that way, which I like.
Big Apple Film Festival Black Cinema Showcase will take place April 7th, SVA Theatre, NYC. Submissions now being accepted at https://www.bigapplefilmfestival.com/black-cinema-showcase