Film Review: Sundance 2020 LGBTQ+ Short -Ship: A Visual Poem ★★★★

-Ship: A Visual Poem (2019, 13 mins)

Winner of this year’s Sundance short film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction, writer/director Terrance Daye’s -Ship: A Visual Poem follows a black boy, Jeremiah (Antonio J. Watson), as he visits his aunt’s house following the death of his cousin. Kristin Kouke’s handheld cinematography frequently takes us to Jeremiah’s eye level, helping us to connect with his emotional journey as he imbues the contrary takes on masculinity that surround him.

Antonio J. Watson in Terrance Daye’s -Ship: A Visual Poem

There’s a touching relationship between Jeremiah and his older brother Junior (Cheikh M’baye) at the centre of the film, with fine work from both actors. The bond between the siblings is tested as Junior is chastised by his domineering father (a suitably intimidating turn from Jaime Lincoln Smith) while he is gentler and more nuturing towards the younger Jeremiah. There’s at least some warmth and affection in their lives from their aunt Julia (a radiant, subtly moving Simbi Kali), but one imagines this is an all too infrequent experience for these boys.

As the film’s title, and Daye’s work as a poet, suggest there’s a lyrical beauty to -Ship, which along with the rich performances, bring some light to an unnervingly compelling, at times uncomfortable watch.

Antonio J. Watson in Terrance Daye’s -Ship: A Visual Poem

By James Kleinmann

Terrance Daye’s -Ship: A Visual Poem had its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Shorts Program 5. For more details on the film and to learn about future screenings head to the official website here.

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