Carlton Daniel Jr. on ABBF’s ‘Homegoing,’ working with Malik Shakur and Black queer storytelling

"I like creating film that really makes the audience think," said Daniel.

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Carlton Daniel Jr., creator and writer of the short film Homegoing, featured at the 2021 American Black Film Festival, sat down with theGrio and opened up about his film, Black queer storytelling at large and more.

Homegoing tackles themes of father-son relationships, the racial wealth gap, toxic masculinity, and more. It features a star-making turn from Malik Shakur, nephew of the late Tupac Shakur.

In the project, Daniel incorporates close and lingering shots, which he did in order to “reflect on the human experience.”

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Homegoing from director and writer Carlton Daniel Jr. is a “Festival Premiere” at ABFF

Daniel said that he enjoys, “having those close up shots to show the intimacy, to show the softness between Black men and their closeness, and to show how their relationship isn’t just black and white.”

“I like creating film that really makes the audience think, and really just highlights Black men looking beautiful and close and warm and soft on screen,” he added.

Daniel’s goal is to simply show Black men “existing” — something that often isn’t depicted in film. “We often see them as hard and tough and masculine and doing like, you know, crazy things on screen but you never see them just existing and moving throughout the world in their own skin,” he said.

Shakur stirring performance anchors Homegoing. According to Daniel, producers were “blown away” by his audition.

“He is a queer man, he’s super talented and I really wanted to have someone who like had the lived experience of Jr. being on screen, someone who could actually speak to what these characters have gone through or may be experiencing,” Daniel said. “He has a magnetic energy to him, to his presence on screen.”

The film also stars Khalil Kain, who starred alongside Tupac in Juice in 1992. “It was really cool to see the embrace each other on set…he kind of took him under his wing and gave him kind of an uncle-nephew relationship,” Daniel said.

Daniel also opened up about queer storytelling in media, specifically Black queer stories and their importance. While films like Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight felt like watershed moments at the time, there is still plenty of work to be done, and that responsibility lies with film studios, Daniel explained.

“I’ve been reflecting on Black love lately and Black romance…and how love is actually an act of resistance during these challenging times. We are looking for companies that are looking to highlight those experiences and those voices,” he said.

“‘HOMEGOING’s two leads, Khalil Kain and Malik Shakur, play a father-son duo,” reads Homegoing’s press release. “The film is a coming-of-age story about a mortician’s son balancing the expectations of working at his father’s funeral parlor and a night out with friends. When grief intrudes on his own relationships, he’s forced to grow up and see the world as it truly is. ‘HOMEGOING’ touches upon themes of father-son relationships, the racial wealth gap, toxic masculinity, and Black, queer love.”

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