HSFF 2022 FILM REVIEW – P.J. Palmer’s North Star starring Emmy Nominee Colman Domingo – A rural rancher and his sick husband face discrimination and poverty in this heart wrenching short film

Oscar Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival’s NORTH STAR is a 2022 drama short film written and directed by P.J. Palmer and is based off of his own experience of being in a same-sex, multi-racial relationship. This thirty minute movie has already won a dozen awards, some of the most noteworthy being Best Narrative, and Best Performance at the Walla Walla Film Festival, Best Narrative Short at the Indy Shorts International Film Festival, and the winner of the Best LGBTQ Short at the Cordillera International Film Festival. NORTH STAR has prestigious nominations from several more film festivals. P.J. Palmer hopes this film will illuminate the deep seated prejudices held against same-sex couples that are ongoing in American culture. 

North Star Director P.J. Palmer

The gorgeous cinematography is thanks to Ernesto Lomeli who has worked on notable projects like Guillermo Del Toro’s PACIFIC RIM and Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. The gorgeous nature backdrop of the film is also due in part to the filming location. The director went back to his roots with filming taking place at Eagle Creek Ranch in Northern California. NORTH STAR relies more on its beautiful imagery than heavy dialogue, and the picturesque night skies and colourful clusters of trees are a welcome reprieve from the weighty topics covered in the short film. 

NORTH STAR relies more on its beautiful imagery than heavy dialogue, and the picturesque night skies and colourful clusters of trees are a welcome reprieve from the weighty topics covered in the short film. 

The lead actor and executive producer is the rugged Colman Domingo whose quiet, intense performance as James catapults the film into the big leagues and secures its position as a major contender for an Oscar. The all-star cast also features Malcolm Gets who plays James’s invalid husband Craig. Gets plays his character’s disability with realism, and is able to convey a range of emotion with minute facial expressions and subtle acting through the eyes. Kevin Bacon and Laura Inness convincingly play overzealous televangilist host, whose intensely conservative beliefs are expertly threaded in the background of the film to underscore the ostracism the gay couple experience from the outside world. James and Craig chose to live in isolated peace on their farm, which is down to its last horse and in financial crisis. A surprise visit from Craig’s abrasive and intensely religious sister Erin (played by Audrey Wasilewski), sets in motion a series of emotional events that leave the audience fully invested in the characters. Despite Erins’ obvious love for her brother, her well meaning intentions often miss the mark and make the couple feel ill at ease. A theme most of us can relate to regardless of sexual orientation is that of presumptuous family members with good intentions inadvertently making difficult situations worse.  

The lead actor and executive producer is the rugged Colman Domingo whose quiet, intense performance as James catapults the film into the big leagues and secures its position as a major contender for an Oscar

This short film is jarring in its honesty, with Coleman and Gets completely encompassed in their characters providing a touchingly realistic depiction of true love and intimacy. “This is a movie I needed as a kid. It would have changed my life, knowing that there are people in the world like me – that I could have a voice that reflects who I am,” said Palmer about his award winning short. This movie is a triumph for the LGBTQ+ community, and is a must watch film for anyone who wants to witness an emotional and touching performance from brilliant actors collaborating on a meaningful film. The film expertly unites themes of loyalty, loss, isolation and family; and identifies love as being our true North Star.

The film expertly unites themes of loyalty, loss, isolation and family; and identifies love as being our true North Star.

The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year in August 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, regular on MovieMaker Magazine’s “Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list”, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events. HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person between August 11-20th, 2021 at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20th, 2022. 

North Star is playing at HollyShorts, you can buy tickets here

Keya Rivera, Film and TV Business

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