Short Film Written by Irvington Theater Manager to Screen May 19 at Cannes Film Festival
by Paula Romanow Etzel –
His talents and creative energy are boundless. Irvington Town Hall Theater Manager, Gregory G. Allen, is an accomplished actor, playwright, author, speaker, and filmmaker. This January, he garnered rave reviews for his performance as Father Flynn in John Patrick Shanley’s play Doubt at the Barn Theater in Montville, New Jersey. In April, Allen’s screenplay He is Gone (based on his award-winning novel, Missing) was an Official Selection at the Beverly Hills Film Festival. And now, his groundbreaking short film Hiding in Daylight, which Allen wrote and co-produced, is heading to Cannes.
Since its release in February, Hiding in Daylight has been a Jury Prize winner, Audience Choice Award recipient, and Official Selection at multiple international film festivals. In April, the film was named one of 29 finalists to screen as an Official Selection at the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in France.
Directed by filmmaker Cheryl Allison in her directorial debut, Allen originally wrote the 15-minute short as a play (about 80 minutes long), which was performed on stages throughout the country in 2018. Allison, an award-winning actress who has appeared on Broadway, TV, and in films for over 20 years, played one of the lead characters in the Dallas performance.
“I envisioned Cheryl reprising her role when I rewrote Hiding in Daylight as a film,” said Allen. “But her ideas for how the story could evolve from play to film were so vivid and organic to how I’d imagined it. She perceived the story as a mini-opera, and we realized she’d make a perfect director for the short film version.”
Hiding in Daylight depicts the inequalities of the LGBT community in America after a gay purge. “Although our film is fiction,” explained Allison, “it is a brutal reality for many in the LGBT community. My hope is that audiences will realize the cost of complacency and feel motivated to speak up and take action against ongoing discrimination.”
Each stage performance of Hiding in Daylight was followed by a talkback between the play’s creative team and audience, which inspired Allen to bring the conversation to the big screen. “I felt I had to write this story as a wake-up call to those believing everything is good in the LGBT community,” he explained. “The short film genre adds a layer of heightened urgency; I am encouraged at festivals when I hear those outside the community speaking about how our film makes them feel – how something like this could actually happen – and that they question what they can do now to stop it from occurring.”
Since its 1997 inception, Cannes’ American Pavilion has held this ‘festival within a festival’ to showcase up-and-coming filmmakers, providing them a chance to connect to the film industry at Cannes while having their films featured in a juried competition.
“This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots,” noted Allen. “While many strides have been made in the LGBT community, numerous setbacks have occurred around the globe illustrating that lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered members of our society are once again caught in the midst of a battle.”
Allen’s leadership and vision are as vital a force in his role as Irvington Theater manager as in his film and writing pursuits. “I’ve always been a person who enjoys juggling different projects. The energy fuels other areas. I am lucky to be able to continually use that creativity for Irvington Theater’s day-to-day operations as well as plan for the theater’s artistic future.”