Dying And Other Superpowers



7th North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

14th Rushes Soho Shorts Festival

16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

19th Out in Africa – South African Gay & Lesbian Fim Festival

13th Melbourne Underground Film Festival

57th Corona Cork Film Festival.

20th Festival Mix Brasil de Cultura da Diversidade

SHNIT International Short Film Festival 2012

Out At The Movies London 2012

Out in the Desert 2013: Tucson’s 2nd Annual International LGBT Film Festival

STORY  Kristian Johns
SCREENPLAY James Pohotosky
PRODUCTION DESIGNER Mariana Vasconcellos
COSTUME DESIGNER Mariana Vasconcellos & Maria Samoylova
WARDROBE Eloise Kerr
VFX ARTIST Charl Joubert
SOUND DESIGNER James Pohotsky & Gaelan Timm
COMPOSER Richard Sadler
EDITOR Marc Alcover
DIRECTOR Elias Ribeiro   
Tom Stanley, Rebecca Pitkin, Lorraine Hodgson,  Adrian   Bouchet

Save yourself? Or Save the world?
Superhero Origin / Coming of Age Story
Two 20-something Essex brothers cope with loss and disease in conflicting and explosive ways.

Brief Synopsis
Dying and Other Superpowers is the story of two brothers, one gay (JOSH, 21) and one straight (DAVID, 25), who learn to take control of their own destinies for the first time in their quiet suburban London lives. The twist in this case is that JOSH, in doing so, seems to develop the ability to move things with his mind while coping with a terminal condition, while DAVID develops a pathological ability to craft bombs. Regardless of the cost, JOSH must gather the courage and face his own selfish, reckless demons, in order to stop his best friend.

Historically, DAVID has always been the one to take care of JOSH– an attractive young man, who with a smirk and swagger, can get away with practically everything. When he falls, DAVID has always been there to pick him up—the de facto dad as their real father has been missing for 8 years in a Central Asian conflict [think Chechnya.] As our story begins, their father’s body is found, and in on one very drunken bout of escapism with his best friend ELLIE, 21, JOSH steps just beyond DAVID’s ability to “fix” things and contracts HIV from unsafe sex.

As JOSH rejects acknowledging his new life condition, DAVID’s ever brewing anger and resentment over excessive responsibility explodes and the two publically row at work (they work together in a used CD store). Fired for their verging on violent behaviour, DAVID and JOSH part ways for the first time in their lives. JOSH moves back in with their mother LORRAINE and her boyfriend, STUART– a large, muscular, and powerful lug type.  Little does LORRAINE know, but, STUART and JOSH have a past—when JOSH was 18, they had a number of brief encounters which, as JOSH describes it, “would make Oedipus ruffle his newspaper and ask for a fresh cup of tea.”

DAVID, estranged, furious, and directionless, falls for a woman named JESSICA– a soap box evangelist espousing the overreach of corporations and their collusion with government. She introduces DAVID to her support group, “The Phillips Club” and while on the surface they seem like a self help organization [scientology?] that prides itself on re-education into useful trades, their truly militant core remains deeply hidden…

Back at home, STUART, extremely uncomfortable with JOSH’s newly discovered status, and wants him out.  Feeling similarly, JOSH begins to harness his powers by practicing with petty tricks to frustrate STUART into leaving. It is all fun and games until the moment when JOSH catches STUART persuading LORRAINE into kicking him out “to be with his own kind.” JOSH reveals their past and in a rage, STUART attacks JOSH and LORRAINE, at which point JOSH defends his mother with his new capabilities. But just as he saves the day, he passes out. Waking in the hospital, he recognizes his kryptonite: the more he uses his powers, the sicker he gets. Despite his desperate attempts at revelation, both LORRAINE and ELLIE refuse to discuss his “powers”– his mother simply refers to his altercation with STUART as “the incident.”

As DAVID falls deeper in love with JESSICA, she cultivates his growing anger and resentment into militancy– the world is so out of control, as she and “the Phillips Club” describe it, that we need to return to the “State of Nature.” The only way to do that? Blow up the status quo. Despite previously abhorring violence, his attraction to both JESSICA and entropy, sends him further up the ranks of “the Phillips Club”– now publically revealing their true ways in a fiery explosion late at night in a central London bus depot…

JOSH, realizing his own mortality and the cost of power, initially refuses his destiny but when DAVID tries to recruit him in hospital, JOSH must confront DAVID and “the Phillips Club.” However, with his new powers and their cost, he must decide– will he save himself? or save the world?

Dying and Other Superpowers is a modern, action filled, yet character driven youthful retelling of the Angels in America story—though this time, our lead does not think he is a prophet, but rather a superhero. Similar to PRIOR in AiA, anyone who JOSH confides in thinks he’s absolutely bonkers and needs to sort himself out, and similarly, only through accepting his powers, their cost, and metaphorically “wrestling the angel,” does he actually find his voice and purpose. The “angel” in this case is his own youthful folly.

In equal measure, we can visually play with the ambiguous nature of the powers. We can see JOSH move things with his mind, we can see him play tricks on STUART in the home, and even very really save the day in the end, but equally it is possible that his hand wiggles have absolutely no affect on his surroundings and that the powers are purely a coping mechanism for his condition—his actual power could be just finding his own self confidence and becoming an authentic, fully formed man. Or it could all be real.

Elias Ribeiro
Urucu Media
+ 27 718 445 435