Article Title:Number 8 Films presents: The Green
Author or Credit:Number 8 Films
Published on:17th November 2011 - 10:44 am
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Story ID:11057
Text:Worldwide, the teaching profession has been facing a shortage of men for some time. A recent report in England by the General Teaching Council described it as "chronic", and while poor pay was cited as one of the reasons that men are avoiding teaching, “there’s also a darker reason, that some parents may fear that male teachers might sexually abuse their children. A subsequent fear of lawsuits may be deterring some men from training to teach young children.” Immigration New Zealand has early childhood and primary school teachers on its “Immediate Skill Shortage List”, and back in 2003 the New Zealand Herald reported that “A fear of physical contact leading to accusations of sexual abuse is one of the main reasons for a lack of men teaching in primary schools.” Being a gay male teacher brings with it extra perils. Anita Bryant, the historical villain portrayed in the Oscar-winning biopic “Milk”, campaigned against human rights protections for gay people on the basis that "a particularly deviant-minded [gay] teacher could sexually molest children". New Zealander Peter Ellis is still waiting to be pardoned for his alleged crimes against pre-schoolers, for which he served over a decade in jail. As reported back in 2010 when a collection of high-profile Kiwis were calling for a Commission of Inquiry into the case: “Ellis was found guilty of sexual abuse of children at the Christchurch Civic Creche in the early 1990s based on opinions of child psychologists and statements given by children which included bizarre claims of forced night time excursions across the building's rooftops, children imprisoned in metal cages hanging from the creche's ceilings and extreme physical torture for which there was no physical or behavioural evidence. There were even claims that fellow children had been killed.” The corrosive folklore connecting homosexuality and paedophilia meant that Ellis had few defenders during his trial, particularly his fellow gay men. As content editor Jay Bennie recalled, “as founding editor of Express gay community newspaper, and as its co-publisher until few years ago, I observed the Ellis case unsure how to cover it, not wanting to help re-connect pedophilia and homosexuality in the public mind…Sadly, I stood by bewildered by the Peter Ellis case, not believing that the evidence as presented would ever be taken seriously and fearful of screwing up by covering the case.” This month at Rialto Cinemas, Number 8 Films presents “The Green”, a new US thriller that plays on these fears. School teacher Michael and his partner Daniel leave the big city to follow their dream of a more peaceful life in rural Connecticut. Michael is open about his sexuality, and all seems well. He keeps himself to himself, and to coin an oft-used mainstream phrase – he doesn’t “flaunt” it.
 As writer Paul Marcarelli puts it, “When you’re the only gay guy on the block, you find yourself spending a lot of time making sure other people are comfortable. It’s this feeling that you need to be a good gay ambassador because you’re the only one in the neighborhood. There’s a level of internalized shame – and shame is at the root of Michael’s challenge in this film.” His stable life crumbles in less than a day when he is accused of engaging in “inappropriate behaviour” with a male student, and finds himself at the centre of a witch hunt led by the boy’s homophobic stepfather when the boy runs away.
 Harassed by police, dumped by his friends, colleagues and even his lawyer, Michael enlists the help of Karen, a lesbian lawyer from a neighbouring town to help clear his name, find the missing boy and lift the cloud of suspicion that threatens to destroy his relationship and his livelihood. Hollywood bible Variety said “Engrossing…’The Green’ probes homophobia and the usual guilty-until-proven-innocent reaction to child abuse charges…[director] Steven Williford lends the proceedings polish and conviction, helped by an expert cast and handsome production values.” “This is a strong film that makes important points about the obstacles and hurdles that gay men and women face in their everyday life, of which straight people know nothing,” said the Huffington Post. “And it's built on movingly human performances by Harner and Jackson, as the couple whose commitment to each other is threatened by the unfolding events. Ormond is feisty and soothing as the attorney who takes on Michael's case.” “The Green” shows Thursday 17 November at 6:30pm, Rialto Cinemas Newmarket, presented by Number 8 Films. Tickets available here: Number 8 Films - 17th November 2011    
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