Michael Appler On Wednesday evening in New York City — about 60 miles and a ferry ride away from its subject— “Fire Island,” Joel Kim Booster’s romantic comedy about a weekend spent in New York’s chosen queer haven, held its premiere at the SVA Theatre.On 23rd Street in Chelsea, guests including Alok Viad-Menon, Jackie Cox, Peppermint and John Cameron Mitchell, as well as stars Bowen Yang, Matt Rogers, Conrad Ricamora and James Scully assembled to celebrate the film as part of New York’s NewFest Pride.
You could have lifted the premiere’s guest list from any summer weekend spent at the Pines, something to be celebrated for a new film distributed by a gatekeeper studio like Searchlight Pictures. “Fire Island has had a long history of being a safe haven for closeted queer people in the city to be themselves,” director Andrew Ahn told Variety at the premiere. “Not unlike this.”The film features a group of gay Asian men, led by Booster and Yang, who head to the Pines for a final summer weekend before their host (played by Margaret Cho) sells her beach house.
There, the plot points of a classic romantic comedy — as well as “Pride & Prejudice,” which Booster adapts to model the Pine’s sexual caste system — is born out, as well as the issues of racism, classism and sexual assault which continue to plague Fire Island’s sequestered beach destination.“The film doesn’t sugarcoat the Fire Island experience, and Joel has talked about how many moments of the film are lifted from his own experiences,” Ahn continued. “I love rom-coms, and there’s something about them that allows us to process the difficult emotions around being desired that, without a sense of humor, would be crushing.”True, queer stories are yet deserving of levity..