Just in time for National Poetry Month, “Guys Reading Poems” will open theatrically for a special, one-week limited engagement at Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood on April 28th. Tickets will be available soon at: arenascreen.com.
The mindbender film follows an avant-garde painter (Patricia Velasquez, “The Mummy,”) whose sanity dissipates when she’s abandoned by her handsome lothario husband (Alexander Dreymon, “The Last Kingdom”) for his stunningly beautiful mistress (Lydia Hearst, “South of Hell”). In a feature debut performance, Luke Judy plays the resourceful child who creatively uses poetry to survive when his disturbed mother locks him in a puppet box, then transforms the child’s makeshift prison into an art installation. The supporting cast includes Rex Lee (“Entourage” and “Young and Hungry”) and Christos Vasilopoulos (“Banshee”). The seven “poetry guys” in the film are: Blake Sheldon, Jerod Meagher, Justin Schwan, Gopal Divan, Vincent Montuel as well as the film’s director Hunter Lee Hughes and its producer Jason Fracaro. Rounding out the cast are Daniel Berilla, Megan Sousa, Alastair Bayardo and Christopher Crema.
The film features 32 poems as a framing device for this narrative about this artistic but damaged family, including poetry from West Hollywood poet laureate Steven Reigns, as well as classic pieces from LGBT poets Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Thomas Gray, among others. According to Hughes, the film is “designed as a dream with the dreamer slowly waking up” and is largely based on public domain poetry he discovered in his late grandmother’s collection. He says, “My grandmother marked up her poetry books, underlining some phrases, making notes in the margin. Each poem I found became a little hint about her and I became fascinated with the idea that poems could be psychological clues to the inner life of a protagonist.”
“Guys Reading Poems” world premiered at the 21st annual Palm Beach International Film Festival and went on to screen at Dances With Films, qFLIX Philadelphia (Centerpiece Selection), D.C. Independent Film Festival and was awarded the “Audience Award for Best Feature/Drama” at the 25th annual Woods Hole Film Festival, the “Creativity in Drama” award at the 36th annual Breckenridge Film Festival and won “Best in Fest” at the South Texas Underground Film Festival. Early praise for the film includes a rave review from the GayEssential, where Alexander Ryll called it, “a gripping mindbender that compels the viewer to gasp both in terror and awe” while Ernest Owens of Philadelphia Magazine describes the film as, “a visual poetic experience and jaw-dropping black-and-white thriller.”
“Guys Reading Poems” is the Hughes’ feature directorial debut. He previously wrote and directed the LGBT internet television series “Dumbass Filmmakers!” and authored two queer plays, “Fate of the Monarchs” (Critic’s Pick, “Backstage West”) and “The Sermons of John Bradley” as well as the gay dark short film “Winner Takes All.” Michael Marius Pessah served as the film’s cinematographer, after earning the prestigious “Five in Focus” award for his work on “Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean.” Nathaly Lopez is the production designer for the film, Shpetim Zero created haute couture designs for the film, Patrick Kennelly edited the picture and Joachim Horsley composed the original score. The film will debut on Friday, April 28th at Arena Cinelounge (arenascreen.com) and screen for one week, with exact screening times TBD.
As part of National Poetry Month, “Guys Reading Poems” will also host its monthly open mic night at Shaky Alibi (8401 Beverly Boulevard) on Thursday, April 6th at 7:00 p.m. Readers may secure a spot in the lineup by texting “RSVP” to 424.34.POEMS.
To check out the trailer, please visit: https://vimeo.com/167839352.