Don’t come in here expecting Glee – which, although it briefly dealt with some of the issues which Saturday Church does, did so in a glossily veneered way. Saturday Church puts the difficulties faced by LGBTQ people front and centre, and in the realist of circumstances: teenagehood. It also features some fabulous voguing.
Ulysses is a boy grieving after his father’s recent death, who craves the acceptance his peers, society and strict aunt deny him. He begins to find joy again and his identity, when he encounters members of Saturday Church.
The musical numbers in Saturday Church are much more organic from a character point of view than in standard movie musical remits, coming in shorter bursts and presenting naturally as Ulysses’ daydreams. It is perhaps a matter of personal taste as to how seamless these musical transitions are overall, however. Loni Landon’s smooth but wild choreography has a great contemporary feel, as well as the fierce vogue moments so crucial to its Saturday Church members. The lyrics are less imaginative, but the music’s vibe brings an appropriate edge to proceedings.
First-time director Damon Cardasis was inspired to make this film by a real-life church programme – and inspired in his casting of trans and LGBTQ actors in the roles. By not shying away from the danger these individuals face for being themselves, Saturday Church makes for compelling viewing. Seminal documentary Paris Is Burning will also be essential viewing for those not yet familiar with New York’s house scene.
A striking central performance from Luka Kain is ably supported by a cast who can channel their own experiences onscreen. Saturday Church may not be the type of musical destined to be put on in schools, but is certainly the type of film that demands to be made – and seen.
CAST: Luka Kain, Margot Bingham, Regina Taylor, Mj Rodriguez, Marquis Rodriguez
DIRECTOR: Damon Cardasis
WRITER: Damon Cardasis
SYNOPSIS: A 14 year old boy, struggling with grief, gender identity and religion, begins to use fantasy to escape his life in the inner city and find his passion in the process.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]