Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 18, 2021 } Playhouse Square

LICENSED TO KILL

 

Year: 1997
Country: USA
Run Time: 80 minutes

LICENSED TO KILL

Dread of violent crime pervades American society. Yet harassment, assault and homicide are encouraged - if the victim happens to be suspected of being gay. That's the chilling thesis behind Arthur Dong's interleaved interviews with convicted murderers who killed in the name of homophobia. Army Sgt. Kenneth French, after a night of liquor and Clint Eastwood videos, opened fire on a public restaurant while railing against homosexuals in the military. Jay Johnson, HIV-positive scion of an upright, religious family, terrorized Minneapolis queer hangouts to exorcise his own closeted guilt. Dong himself claims to have been attacked, and when he got away the punks turned on the next pedestrian to happen along, a priest. Though his subjects cite the Bible, moral outrage, and their own abused childhoods to explain their offenses, Dong leaves little doubt that these men (some themselves gay) are sociopaths, muggers, and gangbangers ready to prey on all citizens, straight or not. But, picking up cues from right-wing political propaganda and bigotry, they go after sanctioned targets because of a deadly perception that, as one tattooed lifer says, "Police ain't going to do a thing . . . They are not interested." Contains graphic footage. - Charles Cassady

Screenplay
Arthur Dong

Director
Arthur Dong

Producer
Arthur Dong, Thomas G. Miller

Cinematography
Robert Shepard

Editing
Arthur Dong

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