Anthony Bawn's As I Am opens at Harkins Christown

By Brianna Moore

This Friday, film director and producer Anthony Bawn screens his newest film As I Am at the Harkins Theater at Christown Spectrum Mall in Phoenix. This LGBTQIA+ film explores the inner struggles of a black, gay man as he tries to navigate through his own trauma.

In his work, Bawn combines drama and romance in an effort to make the audience probe themselves and take a look at how they navigate through the world. He describes the film as a “Moonlight” meets “Love, Simon.”

“The biggest takeaway I want people to have is that they question themselves and how they react to their environment,” says Bawn. “Understanding the power of being present and [of] human connection. Being able to communicate with someone that doesn’t have the same background.”

The film centers around a black, gay man named Emmanuel, who is forced to face the truth about who is by revealing a long-kept family secret. While on his personal journey, he meets Demetrius, a young man that shows him the beauty of relationships and how important a bond with someone can be. 

Emmanuel is played by Andre Myers, while Demetrius is played by Jeremiyah Dunbar. 

“Through this process,” says Myers, “I think what [Emmanuel] learns is the power of connection. A lot of the time people feel alone and as if they can’t speak. The biggest thing my character learns is to release, let go, and ask for help.” 

Myers is an actor, singer, and dancer from Washington D.C. He says he really enjoyed the physical aspects that came with this role.

“What I like about playing this character is being able to find the physicality of that quirky character,” he says. “I got to have some fun with it. A lot of the ‘acting’ came from a physical standpoint.” 

Demetrius has a great influence on Emmanuel’s development throughout the film. However, Emmanuel also helps Demetrius in ways that may not be quite as obvious.

“I feel like as he grew up, he learned to love and give,” says Dunbar, “but I feel like he finally found a way to just go with the flow and to do things for himself. 

For Dunbar, this is the first film that he’s starred in. Bawn specifically enjoyed working with him and seeing him develop as an actor. 

As I Am was filmed right here in the Valley, specifically Scottsdale. The setting of the film plays an important part in the plot, but Bawn feels that it also has some social implications.

“Living here, I discovered that there are a lot of black gay people here,” says Bawn. “I thought, ‘let me work on something that focuses on black gay men in Arizona in play up the narrative here. If I’m able ... to make a difference in this city, I am all for it.”

Bawn, Meyers, and Dunbar all enjoyed working together on this film, each of them with their own favorite moments from filming. For Meyers, it was filming the club scene where Emmanuel gets caught up in the fun of dancing with himself. For Dunbar, it was the moments off-set that was filled with laughter and good times.

For Bawn, he enjoyed both the shooting of the film and the finished product. 

“After watching the films like 80 times,” says Bawn, “I really love the chemistry and the performances and just how Andre and Jeremiyah brought the characters to life. There are only a few things that have been near and dear to my heart in this."

As I Am runs at the Harkins Theatres Christown 14 at the Spectrum Mall, 1620 W. Montebello Avenue, in Phoenix on Friday, December 6 at t2 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8:45 p.m. — Bawn will be in attendance for the last screening.

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