Program 39: Saturday Church
Directed by Damon Cardasis
Imagine being 14 years old and mourning the death of your father, all while concealing your sexuality and questioning your gender identity. That’s where we find Ulysses (sensational young actor Luka Kain). At school, with a pair of panty hose hidden under his jeans, Ulysses copes with relentless bullying by imagining his classmates cowing at his feet during an elaborate fantasy dance number. At home, he has to contend with his super strict and super religious Aunt Rose (Golden Globe winner, Regina Taylor), whom his mother has brought in to help manage the household. Ulysses is immediately at odds with his domineering aunt: no matter what he does, he’s in trouble. And just wait until Aunt Rose catches him trying on his mother’s high heels!
With home no longer a safe space, Ulysses must seek out other places to explore his queer identity. That quest takes him to the Christopher Street Pier where he becomes friends with a group of transgender women and one very cute gay boy (Marquis Rodriguez). They introduce him to Saturday Church, an outreach program that provides food and safety on Saturday evenings to homeless and threatened LGBTQ youth. At Saturday Church, Ulysses is exposed to the New York ballroom scene, lipstick, a first kiss, and above all, the freedom to be his true self.
Saturday Church uses a blend of powerful emotions, musical numbers, lots of voguing, and real-life inspiration to tell a tender story of a young person finding his way in an oppressive world. Based on an actual outreach program by the same name, Saturday Church is cast primarily with gay and transgender actors. This gives the film a remarkably real quality, which only serves to strengthen the audience’s connection to the story. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, Saturday Church will leave a lasting impression on everyone who sees it.
— Stephen K. Weisenreder
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- JURY AWARD, US Narrative Best Actor: Luka Kain – Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival
- JURY AWARD, Best Narrative Feature – Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Festival
- AUDIENCE AWARD, Best Narrative Feature Runner-Up – Tribeca Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival
- CLOSING NIGHT FILM – Out on Film Atlanta LGBT Film Festival