Fresh off its ensemble award for “Best Performance” at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Brooklyn-based Joshua Sanchez’s debut feature, FOUR, makes its New York premiere this Friday, July 27 as the opening night film for the newly revamped NewFest. The film is spare and elegant, with a real feel for how endless summer-time suburban sprawl seems to extend and exacerbate emotional longing. It’s anchored by Pearce’s excellent performance as Joe, a middle-aged married man on an internet date with a teenage boy. He’s confident, thoughtful, and at times completely repellant, yet always compelling and human.
Adapted from Obie-winning playwright Christopher Shinn’s 1998 play, Four tells the story of four different characters faced with conflicting desires and unexpected emotions on the fourth of July. A white teenage boy, June (Emory Cohen, TV’s Smash), meets up with a married, middle-aged black man, Joe (The Wire’s Wendell Pearce), whose confident mantras and sloganeering are seductive and unsettling in their certainty. Meanwhile, Joe’s daughter, Abigayle (Aja Naomi King) finds herself drawn to the clever Latino basketball player named Dexter (E.J. Bonilla).
Joshua Sanchez grew up in Houston, TX and graduated from Columbia University’s MFA Film Program. His previous shorts, INSIDE/Out and Kill or Be Killed, screened at festivals worldwide.
Among other things, Four is notable for a refreshingly frank sex scene between Pearce and Cohen. Like Sanchez’s ongoing Screentests series of short video portraits, it’s a movie with a rare, unassuming emotional intelligence and lack of moral judgement.
KTLO: How were the screenings in Los Angeles and San Francisco?
It was great. It couldn’t have been better, really. The screenings were all great and the audiences were really enthusiastic and seemed to really enjoy the film and get it. In San Francisco and LA, it was really like there were two different audiences, but they were both very enthusiastic. In San Francisco, we played at the Castro Theatre, which was really incredible. It’s like a big old movie theatre in the middle of the Castro that was just a really nice place to play, and the audiences there are always very lively and opinionated, so it was fun to play there.