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Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
"With This Ring" Showtimes:
The Manor Complex
Sunday, November 6
2:00 p.m.
Cinema Paradiso
Thursday, November 10
9:30 p.m.
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Gay Film to Compete For Best Short at 26th Annual FLIFF

Filmmaker Mike Jacoby Talks “With This Ring”

by Troy Maillis

"With This Ring"With all of the recent hoopla surrounding gay marriage and equal rights for all, has gay divorce become an afterthought?  After all, heterosexual couples have been getting divorced for as long as we can remember. Unless you believe in “till death do us part,” divorce is a very real issue whether you are straight or gay. Mike Jacoby, a gay filmmaker based out of NYC, has a different story to tell during the 26th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. “With This Ring” is a 13 minute short film that takes a dark look at gay marriage. It tells the tale of one man's realization that the dream of eternal and lasting love may be nothing more than a shot in the dark. Paying homage to Film Noir, “With This Ring” explores the perceived notion that equality means joining the ranks of the mainstream, who not only have the right to marry, but also have the right to divorce; and with divorce comes a whole host of unexpected consequences. Written by George Zuber, “With This Ring” was chosen as an “official selection” for competition in the category for Best Short at this year’s FLIFF. Mike Jacoby recently spoke with Mark’s List about the film and being a part of the 2011 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. 

Can you talk about your short film “With This Ring” and developing the project?

A friend of mine sent me a script about a woman whose husband sets her up to have an affair so he would have an excuse to get rid of her. I thought it would be interesting to switch the roles around and make it a gay-themed film. The short film [“With This Ring”] shows that marriage comes with all of kinds of responsibility and a darker side that a lot of people don’t want to talk about.  In the gay community everyone is so gung hoe about marriage, but no one is really talking about the possibility of divorce as well.  I wanted to bring that up in a graphic, film-noir kind of way and invite some discussion about the subject. 

"With This Ring"The film sends a powerful message about marriage across the board and really shows that matters of the heart and betrayal is not just a gay or straight issue.  Do you think this film will make the audience think about gay marriage in a different way?

I think the people who are not supportive of gay marriage will have a catty comment about the nature of the film; and I think some gay people will look at the film and wonder why it wasn’t all shiny and rosy; and I think there will be some film buffs who will look at it and think it’s really interesting and not a traditional take on marriage. I didn’t get accepted into any gay film festivals this year, but then I was accepted into a mainstream festival and also put in competition. I think part of the reason is that films in the gay festivals have to be shiny and rosy and have positive outcomes.  I think the gay festivals can take their chances in the future and show some darker gay-themed films.

Justin Misenhelder in "With This Ring"Were you surprised to have a gay-themed film chosen as an “official selection” for competition?

I think it had a lot to do with the subject matter.  I don’t know, historically speaking, if it would have been interesting without the recent passage of gay marriage in New York and other states. I would also like to think the cinematography was good and the story was solid.

The film starts out very erotic and sensual and makes a dramatic turn very quickly.  Were you concerned that you might not be able to convey the full story in 13 minutes?

No, not at all. I wanted the audience to feel that there was a real connection between the two characters.  There doesn’t necessarily need to be a lot of dialogue to tell that story.  I think films can be a little too wordy at times. I wanted to tell the story with close-ups and intimate scenes and then take that fast turn with subtle glimpses or close-ups of the villain’s eye. 

What were you looking for when choosing the actors for the roles?

Greg Engbrecht in "With This Ring"For the married man I wanted an actor (Justin Misenhelder) who could pull off two big emotions: the first being hopeful that he could love again after divorce and the second being completely demoralized after realizing that he had met his nemesis instead—I wanted the viewer to really relate to that. For the villain I wanted the actor (Greg Engbrecht) to play someone who was emotionally involved in the beginning, but not too involved to the point where his later actions wouldn’t make sense. Greg was a really great selection. He has a very sexy swagger to him. As a heterosexual actor, he really threw himself into the role and gave a stellar performance. He was able to turn in on when it was time to be a little crazy.

Do you stick to gay films or are you looking to branch out?  Will we be seeing you again at next year’s FLIFF?

Primarily I stick to gay films—it’s the genre I feel most comfortable in. I feel like I should within the stories I feel most comfortable telling. I’m currently working on a blend of narrative documentary—it’s a film called “The Undesirable.” It’s a true story of America’s first World War II veterans to have an undesirable discharge overturned by the pentagon and upgraded to honorable. It’s a beautiful love story that spans 70 years—I’m really looking forward to telling it.

More about "With This Ring"

With This Ring Teaser from LookOut Films on Vimeo.

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