Breathing Through a Straw recently won Best Alberta Short at the Calgary International Film Festival (Oscar-qualifying festival) and was selected to screen in the Best of Shorts showcase. In addition, the film won the Award of Distinction from the Canada Shorts Film Festival.
The film has screened at many festivals, including the Calgary International Film Festival, the Cambridge Film Festival, the Atlantic International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Lift-Off Festival, TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival, the Victoria Film Festival, the Silverware Film Festival, and others. In March 2018, the film will screen at the flagship Cineplex Theatre in downtown Toronto as part of the Canadian Film Fest.
When a hookup ends in homicide, Parker decides to confront the man who abused him as a child.
Inspired by a true story, Breathing Through a Straw is a short film that explores the consequences of secrets. The film is written and directed by award-winning gay Canadian theatre director Leigh Rivenbark. This is his debut film.
The film stars Christian Lloyd (Emmy Award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale, Maps to the Stars).
Meet Parker, a 45 year-old closeted gay man. When the story begins, Parker has just moved back into his childhood home to care for his ailing mother, Ernie.
At supper, Ernie interrogates Parker about where he goes at night. Parker lies to her, saying that he goes to the park to feed the ducks.
That evening, Parker watches a news program about The Fire Challenge – an internet craze where teens douse themselves with rubbing alcohol and set themselves ablaze.
Later, Parker drives to a deserted parking lot, takes a gas tank out of his trunk, and prepares to kill himself. Suddenly, he receives an unexpected a text from Jesse on a dating app: “Are you into dudes?”
Parker drives to Jesse’s contemporary house. He follows a trail of sticky notes leading to a candlelit bathroom, where he meets Jesse. They are about to hook up in the bathtub when Jesse’s wife, Patricia, arrives home.
To hide from her, Parker takes a straw out of a piña colada and submerses beneath the bubbly water, using the straw to breathe.
When he is underwater, Parker has an unsettling flashback. He recalls being abused by his neighbour, Bill.
Suddenly, the sound of a gunshot snaps Parker back to the present. He emerges from the bathtub to discover Jesse’s dead body.
As he is about to escape, Patricia forces him at gunpoint to admit he is gay. He does and Patricia spares his life.
Parker drives to Bill’s house and finds him drunk in the living room. Parker pours the tank of gas over Bill’s head and ignites a lighter. But just as Parker is about to set Bill on fire, he realizes that he has too much love in his heart to do it.
He returns home to his mother who asks, “Where were you?” Parker opens his mouth to speak the truth for the first time.