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    Elwood Takes a Lover Brings LGBT Seniors to the Big Screen

    For too long, certain people’s stories have been scarce—if not invisible—in film and television. LGBT seniors are no exception. The filmmakers behind Elwood Takes a Lover are doing their part to help change that.

    Made as a graduate thesis project at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Elwood Takes a Lover isn’t your typical student film. The 16-minute short tells the story of Hannah, a cantankerous cancer patient of an advanced age, and her sweet-but-clueless husband Elwood. As she nears the end of her life, Hannah fears that Elwood will have no one to care for him after she’s gone.

    Long suspecting Elwood had feelings for another man in his youth, Hannah sets out to find his unrequited love in hopes of reuniting them. What results is a surprisingly funny, irreverent and heartfelt movie about the intricacies of what it means to love later in life.

    When director John Ira Palmer read the original script by writer Youthana Yuos, he immediately wanted to direct it. Palmer told the San Francisco Bay Times, “I connected in a very real way to the characters. Telling LGBTQ stories is important to me as a filmmaker, and I loved that this was a nuanced portrayal of older people and queerness that sidestepped stereotypes.” Yuos added, “I’ve always been interested in telling stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.”

    Palmer and Yuos banded together with producer Gracie Corapi and cinematographer Adriana Serrato to bring the script to life. When asked what initially appealed to her, Corapi replied, “I was really excited that our lead character was a woman over 50, which is not something you see on-screen very often.” Serrato called working on the film a “no-brainer” and continued, “I knew I wanted to help bring Hannah and Elwood’s unique world to life visually.”

    After a successful Kickstarter campaign backed by over 230 people, the team was awarded an Emerging Filmmaker Grant from ARRI, one of Hollywood’s most-revered camera companies, allowing them to shoot the project on a top-tier, professional camera. Assembling an inclusive crew and cast, described by Palmer as his “creative family,” they filmed in the Ladera Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles and Santa Paula, California.

    Elwood Takes a Lover premiered in February at Queer Screen’s 25th Annual Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, and is currently enjoying a successful festival run throughout the U.S. and around the world. It will also soon be available on the LGBT streaming platform Dekkoo.

    It’s an exciting time for queer representation in media. Consider Moonlight winning Best Picture, Transparent’s Emmys, and out lesbian Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther) becoming the first female cinematographer to be nominated for an Oscar for her work on Mudbound.

    While there’s still a long way to go, more stories about underrepresented people are being told than ever before. With so much progress being made, it’s sometimes easy to forget the unique struggles faced by LGBT seniors. Elwood Takes a Lover is a welcome and entertaining addition to the conversation.

    For more information about “Elwood Takes a Lover,” go to