Inside Out LGBT Film Festival 2013: Valentine Road (2013)
In 2008, the seaside town of Oxnard, California, was rocked by the shooting death of Lawrence “Larry” King, a 15-year-old biracial, LGBTQ student at the hands of his white, 14-year-old classmate Brandon McInerney. The tragedy at the heart of this story is quickly lost as details emerge and finger pointing starts. Was this a hate crime, committed by a budding white supremacist? Or was it retaliation for humiliating sexual harassment? The new documentary Valentine Road from director Marta Cunningham has to tough task of asking these questions.
Larry King was dressing up as a girl and going to school – wearing makeup, high heels, carrying a purse. This may or may not have been in violation of school policies, though most of the teachers and administrators interviewed here seem uninterested in examining the logical informing such a policy. Not surprisingly, the only teacher willing to call bs on that is now working at a Starbucks. It seems to be a fact that Larry asked Brandon to be his Valentine, but it seems like a poor justification for shooting a classmate in the back of the head.
Valentine Road raises some prickly questions about culpability, accountability and compassion and asks us to consider how the unspoken rules of a community can lead to such a heinous act. Your jaw will drop as you watch three ladies from the community and jurors at Brandon’s trial have an animated chat about Trader Joe’s wine, cake, and how Larry totally provoked his own murder. This doc is tough watch, but an important one.
UPDATE: Valentine Road is screening at The Berkshire International Film Festival on June 1, 2013 at 9:00 am. Visit http://www.biffma.org/ for more information and to purchase tickets.
Valentine Road screens on Saturday May 25 at 5:00 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information about the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival and to buy tickets, visit http://insideout.ca/.
Gallery of Images from Valentine Road