By Raquel J. Pantojas
The small room called Salón de Tarzán in the well-known University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez was scarcely filled at the commencement of the emotive movie Children of God directed by the Bahamian filmmaker, Kareem Mortimer. Yesterday, March 5, less than 20 people took seat to watch the 104 minutes long movie. Lisette Rolón, UPRM professor of Comparative Literature, eloquently shared an introduction of the movie Children of God. Dressed in a more casual suit and bow-tie style, Professor Rolón said that the movie was centered in the negritude and the “queer” in the Bahamas islands. After Professor Rolón finished her reflective introduction, silence distilled from the room while the movie started.
The film portrays a young thin painter named Johnny who’s sent away to remote island in pursuit of his voice and feelings as a painter. The awkward and odd young painter meets the tall, dark, and handsome Romeo, whose attraction towards men have been kept shut in the dark. But the film doesn’t center itself on the love story between Johnny and Romeo. It’s also about Lena, the conservative anti-gay pastor’s wife. Lena had a venereal disease transmitted to her by her husband who promiscuously had sexual relationships with several young men.
Who are the real children of God? That’s what the movie leaves you pondering about, since the people who called themselves Christians had double lives while bashing those who just want their happiness.
The themes of the film deal with discrimination and intolerance towards change. In Puerto Rico, the discrimination based on beliefs without basis are diminishing throughout the years, since in 2009, a gay rights bill was approved and any discrimination based on sexual orientation in the areas of employment, public transportation and public facilities, business transactions, and housing was forbidden by Puerto Rican civil rights laws.
With his film, Mortimer allowed us to experience a “behind the scenes” point of view of the real-life situation of some anti-gay activists. A thin and small UPRM student, who went to see the film out of curiosity, said that she never imagined the discrimination members of the LGBT community suffered near us. The Political Science student, 23, said “The times are changing and it was very disheartening to know how the church in the Bahamas handled the topic in the movie. With hate and misjudgment, you gain nothing and that’s what they gained: nothing but more hurt.”