On the Downlow 2007, Dvcam to Beta, 56min, color, sound.
Abigail Child: Director, Producer, Editor; Arthur Jafa: Camera; Floyd Fisher: Music; Yael Bitton: Editing.
Abigail Child explores a little-acknowledged aspect of African-American culture in this documentary. Using a combination of new footage and found images, Child sets the scene in Cleveland, Ohio with a rhythmic visual barrage that portrays the urban landscape in a unique and striking manner. Child alternates this absorbing vision of the city with interviews conducted with four African-American men living in Cleveland, who discuss their lives and their relationships. All four men live "on the downlow" -- while their primary sexual and romantic relationships are with other men, they strive to maintain the outward appearance of straight men, and keep their sexuality a secret. Despite their common sexual preference, each man views his situation in a different way and has his own opinions about gay life within the city's African-American community. An ongoing and evolving documentary project, a version of On The Downlow was screened as part of the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, while an earlier (and considerably shorter) version, called The Party, appeared at the 2005 New York Underground Film Festival.
- Mark Deming, Rovi