In the moments just before lights up, Ethan Rice (Aaron Rossini) has been innocently watching the Academy Awards with his best bud John (Craig Wesley Divino), when a character we’ll meet later, director Dennis (Karl Gregory) accepted an academy award for his autobiographical film White Plains, about growing up gay in the eponymous town and the suicide of his best gay friend as a response to being bullied my a high school classmate. In his acceptance speech, Dennis has named the classmate.
When the lights come up, the look on Ethan’s face is pale and stricken. Because the bully named…was him. He hadn’t known of the consequences of his awful behavior…and half a lifetime removed from it, he is mostly a different human being; a young man, no longer the kid looking to impress his friends by getting a laugh at a weakling’s expense. But the look on his face says that he knows the distance has ceased to matter, and his life will never be the same. He will respond on YouTube with a public apology; but that won’t be enough for Dennis, hellbent on an even more public and humiliating retribution—despite the pleas from his boyfriend Gregory (Jeremy King) to dial it down and rein it in. The coming collision of forces is the destination of the sad, funny, terribly human and very unexpected festival winner, From White Plains, written and directed by Michael Perlman.
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