In a country where homosexuality is still
relatively taboo, a love story taking place on the
island of Eluthera
in the Bahamas
is breaking down barriers and opening the door for gay Bahamians
to express themselves. Written and directed by Bahamian director
Kareem Mortimer, Children of God, currently available on DVD,
tells the stories of three very different individuals: Lena, the
conservative, deeply religious wife of a secretly gay firebrand
pastor; Romeo, a handsome young black man hiding his sexuality
from his close-knit and loving family; and Johnny, the
conflicted and creatively-blocked white artist in search of
All three characters head for the
spectacularly beautiful and tranquil
island of Eleuthera,
in the Bahamas,
each with a different reason for escaping their current
circumstances. Soon, their disparate worlds collide in
unexpected and affecting ways. The film features a stellar
ensemble cast, which includes Stephen Tyrone Williams (Ruined),
Mark Richard Ford (Rent), Margaret Laurena Kemp (Commander in
Chief) and Johnny Ferro (The Video Guys).
Kareem Mortimer (left) recently spoke with Markís List about
making Children of God, homophobia in the
Bahamas and what makes this
film unique to other gay-related films.
Children of God was shown in
and in Miami
and now itís available for audiences on DVD. Can you talk
about taking on a project like this?
Being born and raised in the
Bahamas, the language is very
homophobic. After being away from the
Bahamas and then coming back, I
talked with my friends about the situation. Instead of
complaining about it, I decided to make a movie addressing the
climate and challenge people to do betteróto wrap it in a love
story that would be acceptable. I wanted to portray
characters that people could identify with and speak to them in
a certain way. The story takes place in Eluthera. The
island is very magical and dramaticóit just begs to be
photographed. It involves a white Bahamian, a black Bahamian and
a conservative Christian woman and how their lives intersect on
Were you nervous about making a
movie about this topic? Homosexuality is rather taboo in the
I was for a second, and then I realized how
much it would have meant to me to have a movie like this when I
was growing up. It would have been so fantastic to have a movie
that would have made sense of what I was feeling. I decided I
couldnít let fear enter my mind, and people have been really
great about it here and outside the country.
you received any criticism from the
for tackling this issue?
I donít really pay attention to criticism
unless itís constructive. I get really affected by those kinds
of things, so I try to avoid it. I can take criticism about the
art but not really the subject matter.
Did you draw from your own
experiences when writing this film? Is the character ďRomeoĒ
someone you know in your life?
Itís not autobiographical, but I definitely
pulled from certain moments in my life living in the
Bahamas. I pulled from my own
experiences with bullies, but the majority of the story was
inspired by friends and their experiences.
How are you hoping the character
affect the audience?
The film mainly focuses on two boys: Johnny,
a white Bahamian boy, and Romeo, a middle class black Bahamian
boy. Mixed in there is Lena, who is an
anti-gay wife of a firebrand preacher. The film doesnít speak to
everybody, but I hope the film finds boys like Johnny and Romeo
and parents who donít really understand the issues. Thatís
why Lenaís character was incorporated
into the mixósomeone who is basically on the opposite spectrum.
Whether the audience views homosexuality as right or wrong, the
message is that we should treat each other with respectóso in
that sense itís for both a gay and straight audience.
How do you think the view of
homosexuality has changed over the last few years in the
Do you think itís heading in a more positive direction?
I definitely think itís heading in a more
positive direction. I think the more people become educated and
expand their horizons, the more open we become. There are
a lot of artists and filmmakers coming out that are doing really
great things. Things are changing, but thereís still a
heavy shadow of religion that still views homosexuality
was your experience like shooting in the
and working with the cast?
We started shooting in
Nassau, and it was really tough to shoot
thereóit has grown so much. Then we went to Eluthera and it was
amazing. There are miles and miles of beaches to shoot on
and the people are so nice. A few of the locals were used as
extras. We were pretty much left alone to do what we
wanted to do. The cast is a mix of Bahamian actors and
non-Bahamian actors. The two main male characters are not
Bahamian, but everyone was really great to work with.
What do you think makes this film
different than other films dealing with gay relationships and
These peopleóBahamiansóhave never really
been seen before in movies. Itís so strange to hear that a movie
is even from the Bahamas.
Itís an examination of a culture thatís fresh to a lot of
people. Itís not happening in a big cityóitís happening on an
island. The performances are very genuine and it stands out at a
film. Itís beautiful.
The DVD of Children of God contains
special features such as a directorís commentary, deleted
scenes, and the official trailer, as well as Mortimerís
award-winning short film, Float.