( ENSPIRE Interview ) Award-Winning Short Film by Black and Queer Filmmaker Adomako Aman Should be on Everyone’s Radar
ENSPIRE Contributor: Claya Davis
A poignant and moving story about a budding romance between DJ/Artist Leon and music producer Daniel, Adomako Aman’s recently released short film does not shy away from a difficult conversation. Through it, he directly addresses the social and personal challenges that a down-low Queer couple encounters while questioning whether peace is possible in this kind of relationship dynamic.
Adomako Aman, the mastermind behind the project, not only produced, directed, and starred in the film but also wrote the screenplay as well. The New York native first gained media attention for his documentary Dancing in The Dark, which explores the Black and Latino gay experience over the backdrop of New York City’s nightlife. With more than half a million views online, the film has been recognized in several significant publications, such as The Huffington Post, Vice, and Paper Magazine.
“PEACE is an independent film that was brought to life through the resources that were available to me,” says Aman. “I’ve worked really hard to tell a solid well-rounded story to serve my community and as I continue to create I look forward to expanding in collaboration and bringing forth stronger projects each and every time.”
ENSPIRE spoke to Aman about his creative process, PEACE, and future goals.
What inspired you to write the film? Did you always intend to star in it as well?
I wrote PEACE to begin a conversation on the Downlow culture within the Black Queer community. I continued to pursue this story after speaking with a friend who shared with me that they have no interest in sharing both their sexuality and relationships with those who do not matter. Because Black Queer Men lack representation, there is a deep stigma on what it means to be Black, Queer, and Male in today’s society.
I always intended to play the role of Leon. As difficult as it is to write, direct, and perform all at once, there is a special thrill I feel after it’s all been completed and ready to be shown to the world.
What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking progress?
Putting together the cast of PEACE was the most challenging part of this film’s journey. I received hundreds of submissions for this project. It was quite the effort to comb through talent and explore who fit perfectly.
The film feels extremely authentic, intimate, and personal. Was it emotionally challenging to get into the mind of your character, Leon?
Absolutely. Part of me had to pretend that certain elements of the story were real for me when it became time to perform with my co-stars. I wrote this character. Once it was time to perform, I really had to make believe this was my true existence when it really wasn’t.
How different is your character Leon from the real Adomako Aman?
I believe when any performer is playing a character, they are interpreting how they would have handled the circumstances that the character faces in their real life. I believe that Leon is a small slice of me out of a very large pie.
Did you know your co-stars before casting them?
No. The only people I knew before filming were Sofija Maria Kulikauskas, who performed as Sasha, and Amanda Penalo, who performed as Theresa. It was important for this project to feel as real as possible and these women were brought on at the last hour.
What do you hope to communicate to your audience through PEACE?
I enjoy it when viewers walk away with their own ideas after seeing PEACE. Overall, I want people to know that no one wins if we are not all winning together.
What are your future plans? Do you have anything in the works right now?
There is so much more to explore with this story and eventually, I would like to present this project as a full feature film by bringing on amazing and extremely knowledgeable executive producers.
PEACE has won an impressive number of awards in multiple film festivals, including Best Drama at the Brideport Film Festival, and Aman himself has won Best Director awards at The American Black Film Festival, Long Beach Film Festival, and The Seattle Film Festival.
Check out PEACE Below!