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March 28, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
P J Raval is back in Cleveland presenting his second feature film, “Before You Know It.” His first feature, “Trinidad,” won the Nesnadny+Schwartz Documentary Competition at the 34th Cleveland International Film Festival. “Before You Know It” is a documentary film that examines aging, specifically amongst members of the gay community. Raval is being recognized in both CIFF’s “Someone to Watch” and “Focus on Filmmakers” programs.
“One of the things that does unite us, is that everyone gets older,” says Raval.“If there’s one thing that doesn’t discriminate, it’s the aging process.”
Raval was inspired to focus on gay seniors during the promotion of his first film.
“I was at a reception for the film [“Trinidad”] and there happened to be a large number of gay seniors in attendance,” he says. “That’s when I recognized them as a population.”
“I’m not 65 plus,” he laughs, “but what I can understand is the concept of outsiderness.” Which is what Raval believes about most people. “We can all overcome our challenges and be empowered,” he says.
The filmmaker started filming “Before You Know It” with the intention of exposing “less seen and less heard” stories. Raval feels that gay seniors “have a unique set of challenges,” and yet they are collective. “I wanted to make a documentary to look at these issues,” says Raval. “But when we look at their stories, we see they are universal and part of the human experience.”
The elderly gay community is not one of typical experience. “When people think about gay seniors, they usually think about super stylish men in San Francisco or maybe ex-activists in the Village,” Raval explains. “No one thinks about a closeted man in Florida who used to be married and now lives alone.”
“I want to combat the stereotype about gay seniors,” Raval continues.
That “closeted,” partner-less, elderly gay person is exactly who Raval wants to expose to the world. “These are people who were born pre-civil rights and are alive all the way up until gay marriage and marriage equality,” says Raval. “They are the living embodiment of what we could call the gay civil rights movement.”
“Before You Know It” illuminates what unites us as humans, even when it seems we could not be any more different.
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