May 29, 2015

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Tragic consequences of intolerance and gun violence explored in “Valentine Road”| DVD Pick

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valentineroadValentine Road. 88 min and 52 min. versions. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2013. $295. ISBN 1560290870.
Gr 7 Up–In early 2008, a black eighth grader named Larry King was shot and killed in school in Oxnard, CA. King had been exhibiting gender non-conforming behavior in class and in his community, and had proclaimed his affection for a male classmate. That student, Brandon McInerney, who is presented as possibly a white supremacist sympathizer, did not return King’s sentiments, and shot King in the back of the head, ironically during a unit on tolerance. McInerney stood trial, but the jury became deadlocked and could not convict him. He later confessed to the crime and was sentenced to 21 years in prison without parole. The documentary interviews many of King’s surviving family, friends, and classmates, most of whom still grieve and miss him, and delves into the McInerney’s tragic family background. King receives less sympathy from three jurors, filmed chatting over wine and cheese. They seem to believe that the real victim was McInerney, who had to endure unwelcome advances from a classmate of the same sex. These jurors and King’s seventh grade teacher represent the most shocking and sad part of the film—the notion that a young man who failed to act like most other boys simply got what was coming to him. The title comes from the address of the cemetery where Larry now rests. Valentine Road belongs in all school and public libraries as a cautionary tale about homophobia, intolerance, and the easy availability of guns.–Bernie ­Morrissey, The Harker School, San Jose, CA

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