VANCOUVER(NEWS1130) – All week, the News1130 Evening Show is featuring some of the films playing at this year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver.
Today we’re looking at To Be Takei, a doc about actor and activist George Takei who we all know of course from the original Star Trek TV show where he played Sulu – the helmsman of the Starship Enterprise.
Jennifer Kroot is the director of To Be Takei and spoke live with News1130 anchor Ben Wilson.
Here’s an edited excerpt from the interview:
BEN WILSON – To Be Takei has been a huge success, premiering at Sundance and now playing here in Vancouver at DOXA. Why do you think it’s been the success it has been?
JENNIFER KROOT – People love George and we tried to capture the multi-facets of this amazing guy. Here’s someone who was imprisoned in an internment camp in his youth and then part of one of the most successful pop culture shows ever Star Trek and then decided to come out at age 68 and tell everyone he’s a gay man and been in love with someone for 30 years and got married to him publicly. So I think everybody likes to see a relentlessly positive guy who’s been a beloved figure in the media.
BEN WILSON – You mentioned his popularity on social media and of course the popularity of your film. Do you think this is an indication of people’s attitudes changing towards same sex marriage and gay rights?
JENNIFER KROOT – Oh yeah, I think everybody seems to agree that younger people certainly can care less about who marries who these days. I think people are happy that anyone same-sex or opposite sex can get married in this day and age in many places. I think we’re moving towards an equal future for everyone. George is certain of that.
BEN WILSON – You mentioned George’s internment at a camp in Arkansas and Northern California during the Second World War. I understand there’s a play being developed about that?
JENNIFER KROOT – It’s a musical believe it or not about the internment of Japanese-Americans. And I know Japanese-North Americans were imprisoned including in Canada. George Takei opened it regionally in San Diego about two years ago and it was a huge success breaking box office records. They were just waiting to find a theatre on Broadway and start showing there.
BEN WILSON – Any plans to document this play on film?
JENNIFER KROOT – Actually, there may be! He’s very eager to have that documented and so we’ll be probably at least be documenting the opening night and shenanigans around that.
BEN WILSON – When George and his now husband Brad got married several years about there was a bit of a controversy regarding his old cast mate William Shatner and an invitation to George and Brad’s wedding.
JENNIFER KROOT – Apparently, George and Brad sent invites to all of their Star Trek colleagues and everybody agrees they got one. Leonard Nimoy was busy out of town. Bill Shatner said he that he never received the invitation and then when he read about the wedding he made a stink that he wasn’t invited. I did interview Shatner for the movie and more or less he said he never got the invitation. So, he doesn’t believe he was actually invited. I think all the original cast members have had complaints at various times that Shatner wasn’t as friendly to them as he could have been.
BEN WILSON – How did you get in touch with George and Brad to do this film?
JENNIFER KROOT – I didn’t know them. I went to Takei’s agent and wrote a compelling letter. He had seen my previous film It Came From Kuchar and was a fan of that and put me in touch with them. They fortunately liked my work, too. We got to know each other and just starting filming. It took about three years.
BEN WILSON – I was reading about one of your favourite scenes in the film, the one involving Brad’s mothers ashes. Why was that scene so poignant for you?
JENNIFER KROOT – Everything in life happens in that scene. It’s got mysticism, it’s got banality, it’s got sort of the functional disfunction of their relationship, their enduring relationship. It was also really nice that Brad felt comfortable on film to have that experience of talking about his mother and starting that conversation by scattering her ashes. Sometimes you plan for things to go a certain way and sometimes they don’t go that way and something funny happens. Something funny happens in this documentary when he’s trying to take a moment to be thoughtful and something unexpected happens.
To Be Takei is showing on Thursday May 8TH at the Vancouver Playhouse.
Stay tuned to News1130 tomorrow at 7PM when the Evening Show will be speaking to the director of Las Vegas Meditation.
Rogers is a Presenting Partner of DOXA.