To draw on the words of New Queer Cinema director Gregg Araki, my film Dreams of My Father is “not 100% autobiographical but it is 100% personal.” It employs horror and action movie tropes to channel the resentment and anger I harbored toward my own father for decades. After dodging mirrors and cameras for an entire year, I reached the breaking point where I surgically erased our striking family resemblance.
In telling this deeply personal story, I want to challenge society’s concept of binary oppositions and explore the grey areas between good and evil, love and hate, masculinity and femininity, and reality and dreams. In a subversion of conventional filmmaking’s heteronormative, cisgender, male gaze, the male lead character is treated as the sexual object of desire for a change. The film’s nontraditional narrative deliberately withholds information, challenging audiences to fill in the blanks and interpret the material in complex ways.
James A. Burkhalter is a filmmaker, screenwriter, and educator living and working in Baltimore. His films have been honored at the Made In Baltimore Short Film Festival, the Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival, and the LGBTQ Unbordered International Film Festival, among others. His filmmaking idols include John Waters, Bill Gunn, Jordan Peele, Gregg Araki, and Cheryl Dunye. James holds a dual BA in Documentary Film Studies and English from Gettysburg College and will earn his MFA in Filmmaking from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2021.