Director Patrik-Ian Polk provides exciting character developments, brilliant cinematography and life lessons for all, particularly for black LGBT members. Cameo appearances of key actors of the Noah Arc series are visual delights.
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A bullied and demoralized gay student at an all-boys school uses a magical flower derived from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream' to turn many in his community gay, including a comely rugby player for himself.
Two couples are enjoying their summer at the beach, but when the grown son of one couple arrives, it surprisingly stirs something in the husband of the other couple, will the forbidden feelings end badly?
Maria de Medeiros,
Three promos and the pilot episode of Noah's Arc just screened last night at Washington, D.C.'s 14th Annual Reel Affirmations Film Festival, and it was a sold-out house--just like when director Patrick-Ian Polk showed his feature film "Punks" at RA in 2000. The hype behind this showing was all about "At last we get stories of gay Black men!" And indeed, whereas other films at this festival are attended overwhelmingly by gay WHITE men, Noah's Arc attracted a larger African-American gay audience than most of us light-skins ever get to commune with. Who knew? Are all these guys out? Where do they hang out? Not the same clubs my friends and I frequent... It's incredible that in wonderfully diverse D.C. we're still so damn segregated.
Anyway, the shorts and the pilot were wildly appreciated at the fest. I cannot help but surmise that this was due at least in part to the aforementioned thirst for gay Black stories in film. Noah's Arc is definitely entertaining, but apart from being the first gay Black (soon-to-be-) cable network show, there's really nothing new here. It's Queer as Folk, translated to African-American L.A. I liked the characters; but that's because I was supposed to like them. I like the issues they deal with--relationships, sex, family--but there are no real challenges or surprises here. The central dilemma of the pilot--Noah falls for an acquaintance who has historically been hetero but seems to have some more-than-friendly feelings for Noah--is NOT an exclusively (or even a primarily) Black phenomenon.
Don't get me wrong--the production is great (though the sound could use some editing) and the cast are uniformly talented (and for the most part drop-dead gorgeous). But the characters are all *upscale* L.A.--even the "struggling" screenwriter Noah drives a convertible--and apart from a few Black street terms ("downlow" and, yes, "nigga"), there's little in Noah's Arc to distinguish this group of gay guys from the cast of Queer as Folk, or of any mainstream sex- and romance-themed feature film of the last few years.
So my question, then, is: Is it enough to take a recent, successful formula for a TV show, change the race of the characters but little else, and resell it? Is it really all my Black neighbors want, to be able to see Queer as Black Folk? From the reception Noah's Arc received at the Reel Affirmations fest, the answer seems to be yes... but I'm personally doubtful.
I know this was just the first episode, and I'm totally willing to give the series the benefit of the doubt. I very much wish for the success of this project as a cable series, and I look forward to seeing future episodes, in the hope that we get to see (a) further exploration of what, in all its diversity, "Black gay America" means, and (b) examinations of more of the weightier issues barely touched on in the pilot. For example: the family situation of Noah's friend Chance, who has just married a partner who has a young daughter. So far that daughter is nothing more than a political prop and a running joke regarding her name ("Kenya"), which the "diva" friend can never remember. I have no doubt that Mr. Polk's heart is in the right place, so I look forward to seeing where he takes these characters--hopefully someplace we haven't all seen before!
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