Two men in a coffee shop communicate their desires publicly yet silently when they are interrupted by a third. An anagram of “napkins”, SPANKIN transposes the gay hanky code of the 70s onto contemporary coffee culture. Although humorous in content, SPANKIN is an allegory for hierarchical relations within minority groups, consumerist co-optation of identity, and the collective historical forgetting of repression and resistance (the older man has lived through it, the middle-aged man has heard about it and needs to look it up, while the young man is oblivious).
Inspired by the criminalization of homosexual behaviour in Russia, India, Nigeria, and Uganda in 2013, SPANKIN revives the handkerchief code formulated during a similar period of suppression in North America to remind audiences of the neverending struggle, the poignancy of connection and secrecy amidst repression, and semiotic slide of symbols.
RUNNING TIME: 13:19 | COMPLETED: 01/14 | DIRECTOR: STEPHEN CHEN | CAST: CHARLES HAYTER, UCAL SHILLINGFORD | DISTRIBUTOR: