Just like grass growing up through pavement, love grows in the most adverse conditions. Such is the premise of the British film "Release" (Great Britain 2010, 87 minutes). Jack (Daniel Brocklebank) is a priest who is imprisoned for committing a very serious crime. Jack's theory is that the very nature of the Church, and its methods of worship, foster the closeness that leads to sexual involvement. Somehow, he finds love with an idealistic prison guard, Martin (Garry Somers), in conditions that are otherwise reminiscent of "Lord of the Flies."
The warden, a woman whose methods include letting the inmates, in some cases, run the asylum, questions what she calls Martin's "evangelism," as he questions some of the methods that are used. When Jack fails to protect his cellmate from the vicious attack of several of the other inmates, the escalating violence is difficult for the priest to reconcile with the reasons for how his debt is paid to society.
People end up in prison for a number of reasons. Some finish high school and take college classes, learning from their experience. Others meet those who can help them hone their skills in mayhem and larceny. Caught between his religious beliefs and his awareness that the Church that abandoned him in his hour of greatest need, he struggles to find his way to the place that will let him survive in this private version of institutionalized Hell.
This feature by Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin asks many questions about the prison system, filial responsibility, man's inhumanity to man, and finding the soul within ourselves. It is intense, disturbing, and you will leave the theatre wondering whether to get coffee, or a cocktail, or to meditate. Anything you choose will be right. The heart of it all is love and there is more than one way to gain release.
QFest, Philadelphia's LGBT film festival, hosts the Philly premiere showings of "Release" on July 16 at 9:30 p.m. at the Ritz East, 125 South Second Street, in Theater One, and 17 at 5:15 p.m. at the Ritz at the Bourse, 400 Ranstead Street. Visit http://www.qfest.com for further information. QFest runs through July 19.