Berlin International Film Festival

Justin Kelly, James Franco – I Am Michael #Berlinale

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9 min. and 50 sec.

From gay activist to anti-gay Christian pastor: I AM MICHAEL – based on the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze.

Play Podcast
9 min. and 50 sec.

Justin Kelly / James Franco – Director / Actor -. I Am Michael

FRED’s Chiara Nicoletti meets Justin Kelly and James Franco, respectively Director and actor in the film I AM MICHAEL, at the 65th Berlin Film Festival in the Panorama Special section.

The film which has been presented at the Sundance Film Festival less than a month ago, is based on a true -life story of Michael Glatze who turned from gay activist to anti-gay Christian pastor. I AM MICHAEL gives a very detailed portrait of the process leading Glatze to this radical change of path. The idea of the film comes from a NY Times article by Benoit Denizet Lewis who brought this peculiar life story to massive attention. James Franco and his producing partner at Rabbit Bandini Vince Jolivette were introduced to this film project and idea by Gus Van Sant who is also executive producer of the film. A special thanks to Anna Tatarska for the smart questions.

Plot: Michael Glatze (Franco) is handsome, charismatic, and opinionated. An Ivy League grad with multiple degrees, he’s a writer, pianist, and “queer theorist,” espousing his belief that sexual orientation shouldn’t define one’s identity. After years co-editing the iconic XY Magazine, a gay periodical based in San Francisco, he moves to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with his charming and intelligent architect-boyfriend, Bennett (Quinto). Michael experiences a traumatic health scare during which he thinks he’s going to die. Plagued by doubt, paranoia, and fear about the afterlife, he begins to question his beliefs and his identity. Once deemed healthy, he’s convinced that God saved him, pushing him to explore religion, eventually coming to his own decision that homosexuality is not a God-given identity. Michael renounces his gay lifestyle, rejects his friends, and endeavours to find his “true self.” He explores Buddhism and Mormonism, yet ultimately lands at a Christian Bible school in rural Wyoming where he meets his girlfriend, Rebekah (Roberts), and becomes the pastor of his own church.

  • Reporter
    Chiara Nicoletti
  • Guest
    Justin Kelly / James Franco
  • Interviewee role
    Director / Actor
  • Film title
    I Am Michael
  • Festival section
    Panorama Special
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