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Morgan
Director: Michael Akers
Cast: Leo Minaya (Morgan Oliver), Jack Kesy (Dean Kagen)
USA | 2011 | 90 min

A poignant and candid drama about perseverance centered on Morgan, a young man who ends up in a wheelchair after a bicycling accident. Driven and competitive, Morgan has a tough time accepting his new life as a paraplegic, a life that’s often frustrating and lonely. When he meets Dean, who strikes up a friendship with him on the basketball court, Morgan’s zest for life is rekindled, but soon he finds himself reverting to the reckless ways that lead to his debilitating accident in the first place. When Morgan decides to face his demons in the location where his accident took place, he risks not only a broken body, but also a broken heart.

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Carl Siciliano tells the story of #transgender #AliForney that inspired @AliForneyCenter in a documentary edited by UGN’s Michael Akers

Straight men playing gay: The Kissing Test
  • San Diego Gay & Lesbian News: What sparked the casting of Jack Kesy as Dean Kagen, the love interest? Did Kagen and Minaya click on the set, considering that both identify as straight?
  • Michael Akers: Ironically, when I first met Jack, I was positive he was going to play the role of Morgan. He is an accomplished athlete and had been through some hard times where his athletic career was basically ended. He had this kind of grit that I thought we be really interesting for the role. But when we read Leo and Jack together, there was no question that it was a perfect fit the other way around. The chemistry between the two was amazing right from the start. I have had trouble with actors in the past who say they have no problem playing gay roles and then you get to some moment of intimacy and they back off or, worse, try to fake it. So Sandon and I required all the actors auditioning for the leads do the kissing scene in the living room. It quickly weeded out the posers. An amusing sidebar on this: Jack is a smoker. So really the only problem with the intimacy scenes was that Leo kept asking someone to get Jack a mint. The guys did a great job.
A brief history of #UnitedGayNetwork

Michael Akers and Sandon Berg have consistently pushed the boundaries for the gay genre of independent films. GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN explored the age old question of homosexuality as a biological vs. environmental phenomenon. Would a gay man who forgets his past still be gay–and, in this case, would a closeted gay man who lost the shackles of the past find his way, at last, to the truth? Having made their feature-film debut and met with resounding success in the film-festival circuit, the filmmaker duo crossed over into spoof territory, for MATRIMONIUM, about a “reality” show based on lies and stereotypes in a mass-media world willing to turn the serious matter of same-sex marriage into a money-making hoax. The 2006 movie PHOENIX was inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1961 classic L'Avventura. It naturally alters the story into a modern ‘gay twist’. Dylan is a young nurse, with a good job and a nice apartment near the beach, where he surfs everyday, and he thinks he has found true love in Ken, a mysterious real-estate agent who is sweet and passionate with Dylan, but always has an out-of-town business meeting whenever it’s time to get serious. When Ken jets off, ostensibly to Phoenix, Dylan is left feeling hurt and disappointed, again, but this time he decides to 'surprise’ Ken by meeting him in Phoenix. Instead of surprising Ken, however, he ends up being shocked to find Ken’s longtime partner, Demetrius, and the two of them pair up to learn the truth about their mutual lover. UGN’s latest film, MORGAN, shakes things up yet again. Morgan Oliver is an athletic, outgoing, fun-spirited young man. A bartender by profession, he’s also a bicycle racer, until an accident on a tricky turn in Central Park renders him paralyzed. Now the gregarious, ambitious young man has to learn to live in a wheelchair. His life as he knew it being over, he sinks into an abyss of depression. A sliver of sunshine comes in the form of Dean Kagen, a handsome basketball player with a tantalizing grin. When Morgan was a “legger” he’d have, no doubt, been all eagerness and confidence on his first dates with Dean. But now things are totally different. He’s in a wheelchair, and being a paraplegic, he can’t even have an erection. Morgan’s story explores truths about society’s prejudices, particularly strong in the very image-conscious lgbt community. Akers and Berg have addressed in their films several prevalent issues that face the lives of gay men, and amazingly, have done so without succumbing to stereotypes and cliches. They have woven their gay characters into classic storylines, thus giving an element of normalcy to homosexuality seldom seen in mainstream cinema.

–Ashley Rovira