It’s that time of year again in New York City, where the brightest and best feature length and short films come out to shine. The Tribeca Film Festival runs through April 15th- 26th, and this year, films with queer characters were few and far between. However, The Parker Tribe (a short film by out writer/director Jane Baker and featuring out actress/writer Paula Pell) and part of The Shorts Program, was a true gem.
Loosely based on Baker’s own childhood, The Parker Tribe centers on a teenage tomboy named Jo (Cassandra Beske-Dunn), the fifth child out of seven, and her journey to make a place for herself in the world. Pushed around by her brutish brothers, and sometimes caretaker for her two eldest siblings with Muscular Dystrophy, Jo yearns to gain some positive attention and love from her distant mother (Paula Pell). Her father (the always excellent David Koechner) is a bit of a goof, but it’s evident that Jo inherited her big heart from him.
When Jo can sneak away for a few minutes of solitude, she scrawls in her journal all the reasons when she should run away. However, when a cousin reveals that one of her brothers is seriously ill, Jo abandons those plans, as her heart does truly lie with her family. The film takes place in the early ’70s (possibly late ’60s) and Jo’s burgeoning queerness is happening smack dab in the middle of the sexual revolution. While kissing the neighbor boy, who abides by pretty rigid gender roles, Jo imagines she is actually kissing his chic and slightly older sister instead.
The short was made possible by a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2013 and is finally ready for its audience. Tender, funny, and relatable to anyone who has ever felt like the outsider in their own family, The Parker Tribe is 25 minutes worth checking out. You can catch showings of the film this week at TFF or follow The Parker Tribe on Facebook to keep up to date with upcoming festival appearances.