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Short film festival rejects student sign language film over a gay kiss

Short film festival rejects student sign language film over a gay kiss

A major high school film festival has rejected a student’s short film over a gay kiss.

The Golden Lion Awards rejected Since The First Day We Met for going against their requirements for a ‘PG rating’.

Saul Singleton, 17, from Bethesda, Maryland, created the coming of age short film based on his own experiences as a gay teen.

It tells the story of deaf teen Max attending a new high school. He teaches a supportive teen, who wants to learn how to sign, and the two get close.

The four minute film ends with a kiss.

Short film festival rejects student sign language film

When Singleton submitted the film for consideration to the awards, he was met with this reply.

‘Since our festival adheres to a strict PG-comparable rating system, we are unable to accept any films with clearly illustrated LGBQT+ themes,’ they told him.

‘When I got the email from Golden Lion, I was honestly in complete shock,’ Singleton told Gay Star News.

‘I couldn’t process it at first, that they would reject me based on that theme.

‘This dismissal of my film only makes me want to create more films.’

‘Discrimination is a horrible thing to face, and this dismissal of my film only makes me want to create more films.

‘It made me want to fight harder for myself.

‘I’m not going to compromise my work for others, because there will always be an audience out there looking for representation and inclusion of these sort of films.’

High school director Saul Singleton, middle, at an anti-NRA protest
High school director Saul Singleton, middle, at an anti-NRA protest

Singleton claims Golden Lion has not responded to his emails. He has provided proof that he gained permission to use the copyrighted song.

There is a swear in the film, which the high school senior included because it would be ‘more realistic’.

‘If that was the issue compared to the gay kiss, I would understand,’ Singleton said.

‘They never mentioned that, started with that, or brought it up.

Student wants short film festival defunded for their ‘homophobic ideology’

‘At this point, I’m not looking to be included in the festival anymore, rather getting them defunded due to their homophobic ideology. It wouldn’t be this big thing if that was the case.’

Singleton is not deaf himself, however he has three generations of deaf members in his family. He learned American Sign Language before he could talk.

Still from Since The First Day We Met (Saul Singleton)
Still from Since The First Day We Met (Saul Singleton)

‘Many kids who are gay may feel alone or they may feel as if their crushes are impossible to obtain,’ he said.

‘I wanted to pull from the reality of those situations.

‘Also, throughout my childhood, there seemed to be very few movies that featured deaf characters.

‘When I started the script-writing process, I knew that I wanted my main character to connect through my experiences.’

Following this, Singleton is planning on going to film school to tell more diverse stories.

A Golden Lion Awards spokesperson said they believe ‘all filmmakers have a story to tell and a right to do so’.

‘We support LGBT youth and all human rights, and this decision was not made lightly,’ they added.

‘However, we comply with MPAA film rating standards, which, after extensive research and to the best of our knowledge and understanding, put physical same-sex content in a PG-13 or R category’.

We at Gay Star News love the film. And you can watch it below: