This past weekend, the state of New Jersey held its annual Garden State Film Festival. During this year’s event, the festival played Irish gay film Handsom Devil.
News source IrishCentral reached out to the festival’s founder, Diane Raver, who said she was honored to play the movie for her program.
“The Garden State Film Festival,” Raver told IrishCentral, “prides itself on presenting the best of Independent films from around the globe. Handsome Devil is an absolutely stunning film of Ireland, the rugby culture, and redemption. It is everything we founded this festival to present to our audience.”
“Of course, the Jersey Shore is affectionately known as the ‘Irish Riviera’ due to the large population of Irish inhabitants, but more importantly the Irish Film Board is one of the best film loads in the world. This ensures that filmmakers can produce wonderful films like Handsome Devil It is our greatest honor and privilege to do so.”
The film Handsome Devil was filmed in Dublin and released in 2016.
The story follows openly gay high school student Ned. Ned feels like an outcast at his boarding school which is filled with testosterone-fueled boys who are obsessed with the sport of rugby. But, when Ned gets a new roommate, named Conor, who’s the star player of the school’s rugby team, he soon gains a new friend and appreciation for the sport.
In addition, the film’s writer/director John Butler also talked to IrishCentral to share his thoughts on the film.
“Handsome Devil,” John Butler told IrishCentral, “is basically my answer to the John Hughes films I grew up loving, ‘Dead Poets Society’ and ‘Election,’ all those coming-of-age high school films.
“The idea is that kids are emotionally more open and accepting when they are young, but then they have cynicism bred into them by their environments. This film, unlike ‘Dead Poets Society’ where the adults are these pillars of wisdom, I wanted there to be a weakness in the adults and strength among the young people.
Butler also shared his thoughts on why he created the film and why he wants it to connect to teenagers, LGBTQ or otherwise, in today’s modern world.
“I feel it was really important to tell this kind of story, to portray the experiences I was seeing growing up. I grew up in a rigidly binary world where masculine traits were those represented in sport. For me growing up, it seemed like it was impossible to be both,” he said.
“This film stems from that memory, and I think it has something to say in 2017, because obviously as we all know there are so few ‘out’ players in sport. Currently, there aren’t any ‘out’ players at the peak of their careers in premier soccer or rugby union. Male team sports particularly seem to suffer from this lack of representation
“If you buy into this idea of your orientation as an identity, then your identity is formed so early in your life. Having a role model of an openly gay sports player as a young person would have been huge for me. I’ve seen how useless these binary definitions are and I just felt like I needed to push that idea around and examine why it is we are still in that position in the sport.”
If you want to read more of John Butler’s interview with IrishCentral, you can head over through this link.
If you want to see more of the film Handsome Devil, it is available on Netflix, Amazon and Youtube in some countries. Otherwise, you can read this Instinct writer’s review of the film here.