ShortList 2020: '-Ship' Explores Black Struggle by Asking 'How Do We Heal?'

“I identify as queer, so a lot of my childhood was making myself small,” writer and director Terrance Daye says

Terrance Daye’s short film “-Ship: A Visual Poem,” while clocking in at just under 12 minutes, explores a centuries-long struggle with identity and masculinity in the Black community.

“There are things I want to talk about with the Black community that we lack the language historically to address,” Daye, a native of Long Island, New York, said of the film, a finalist in this year’s ShortList Film Festival. “I grew up in a conservative Christian household. I identify as queer, so a lot of my childhood was making myself small. I always got this feeling that everyone always saw something I couldn’t see.

“In my household, it was quiet as it’s kept; we didn’t talk about sexuality.”

Although Daye wrote and directed “-Ship: A Visual Poem,” drawing from his own life experiences, the credits read, “A film by us,” illustrating the community it takes to begin to heal centuries of trauma.

The film centers on Jeremiah, a young Black boy learning the unwritten rules of manhood and masculinity in the Black community through his father. But while his father tries to instill in him and his older brother what it means to be a man, he’s trying to understand what it means for himself. “-Ship” takes place on the day of his cousin’s funeral. Nothing is explicitly said, but suicide is mentioned and a later reveal points to his cause of death.

The critical moment in the film comes during a game of hide-and-seek when Jeremiah’s older brother, Junior, finds him in their cousin’s old bedroom, which is meant to be off-limits. While going through his cousin’s things, Jeremiah finds a magazine with a buff, shirtless, do-rag donning Black man on the front. Jeremiah tries to make out the word “Mandingo” scrawled across its cover.

“I wanted something that showed how the world sees them. Junior is in that line of boys who are being asked to grow up too fast,” Daye said. “Junior and Jeremiah are experiencing that burden. That magazine is very much a mirror for Jeremiah — he’s trying to understand it. For Jeremiah, he’s not necessarily seeing the sex. There’s a tragedy and an innocence to that.”

When Junior finds Jeremiah and ultimately the magazine cover, he’s rapt by what he sees. Daye said he didn’t want to outright say whether Junior may or may not be coming to terms with his sexuality, but rather leave the audience with the image of the magazine cover and its effect on him.

“Is he? Who knows, but what we do know is that image holds him and he feels shame about it later,” Daye said.

Daye had a difficult relationship with the film and the ending when they finished it he said. “I didn’t think I was going to release it. I didn’t know if I was going to make films again, it was that real for me,” he said. “It’s a mixture of personal history and just what needed to be said… I want us to be able to really heal. I want us to push through the pain.”

Watch the film above. Viewers can also screen the films at any time during the festival at Shortlistfilmfestival.com and vote from Aug. 6-19.

The Scene at ShortList 2019: TheWrap's 8th Annual Short Film Festival (Photos)

  • In the top row, ShortList 2019 filmmakers, from left to right: “Hula Girl” directors Amy Hill and Chris Reiss, “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa, “Sister” director Siqi Song, “How Does It Start” director Amber Sealey and “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez.

    In the lower row, TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman, ShortList host Harvey Guillen, “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas,  “No Sanctuary” producer Moriah Hall, “Departing Gestures” co-directors Brian Bolster and Jonathan Napolitano and TheWrap writer Steve Pond.

    Ted Soqui

  • ShortList filmmakers attended the ShortList opening night dinner, presented by Amazon Alexa, on Wednesday, August 21 at Eveleigh West Hollywood.

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  • TheWrap awards editor Steve Pond, “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas and TheWrap head of operations Claude Memmi at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • Guests enjoyed an intimate evening of dinner and conversation at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • We’re Magnetic global director of consumer research and insights Rachel Krautkremer, “How Does it Start” director Amber Sealey, Amazon head of entertainment & culture, XCM Andrew Saunders and Endeavor (WME-IMG) senior global marketing manager Alexandra Stabler at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez, “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa and “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas speaks at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman speaks with ShortList filmmakers and jurors at the ShortList opening night dinner.

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  • “What We Do in the Shadows” star and ShortList host Harvey Guillen poses with TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman.

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  • “Departing Gesture” producers Thomas Harrington, Brian Bolster, Jonathan Napolitano and Kayleigh Napolitano.

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  • ShortList jurors Landon Zakheim, Todd Berger, Wendy Guerrero, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Steve Pond, Gena Konstantinakos, Orlando von Einsiedel, Sharon Waxman and Tristen Tuckfield.

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  • Host Harvey Guillen and jury member and actress Marsha Stephanie Blake.

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  • “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, “How Does it Start” director Amber Sealey and “Departing Gesture” co-director Brian Bolster.

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  • “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” composer Britta Phillips, director A.M. Lukas, and cinematographer Meena Singh.

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  • “Sister” director Siqi Song.

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  • “What We Do in the Shadows” star Harvey Guillen, while hosting at the ShortList ceremony.

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  • The ShortList 2019 jury panel.

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  • Jurors Tristen Tuckfield, Gena Konstantinakos and Todd Berger.

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  • Director & co-founder of Grain Media Orlando von Einsiedel speaks during the jury panel.

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  • Jurors Wendy Guerrero, executive vice president of 30West Tristen Tuckfield, and Gena Konstantinakos.

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  • Gena Konstantinakos, vice president of Development & Video Programing of Topic.

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  • Jurors Gena Konstantinakos, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Wendy Guerrero.

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  • Guests mingle with food and drinks at the W Hotel Hollywood.

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  • ShortList film curator Landon Zakheim.

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  • Guests chat with wine in hand at the W Hotel Hollywood.

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  • Steve Pond introduces ShortList finalists during the filmmakers panel

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  • “Sister” director Siqi Sing, “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, and “How Does It Start” director Amber Sealey

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  • (L-R), “Departing Gesture” co-directors Jonathan Napolitano and Brian Bolster, Siqi Song

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  • “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa

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  • “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas

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  • Senior Vice President Original Programming of Starz Karen Bailey announces the finalists for Telling Our Stories, a new film competition by Starz and WrapWomen

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  • “No Sanctuary” takes the student prize, accepted by producer Moriah Hall

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  • “Departing Gesture” takes the audience prize, accepted by the co-directors Jonathan Napolitano and Brian Bolster

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  • “Enforcement Hours” takes the industry prize, accepted by director Paloma Martinez

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  • Guests mingle at the W Hotel Hollywood

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  • Guests pose for pictures after the awards ceremony

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  • (L-R) Senior Vice President Original Programming of Starz Karen Bailey, “No Sanctuary” producer Moriah Hall and Sharon Waxman

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  • Sharon Waxman and “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez

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  • “Departing Gesture” directors Brian Bolster and Jonathan Napolitano

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Finalists and jurors come together to celebrate this year’s finalists

In the top row, ShortList 2019 filmmakers, from left to right: “Hula Girl” directors Amy Hill and Chris Reiss, “Cat Days” director Jon Frickey, “Green” director Suzanne Andrews Correa, “Sister” director Siqi Song, “How Does It Start” director Amber Sealey and “Enforcement Hours” director Paloma Martinez.

In the lower row, TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman, ShortList host Harvey Guillen, “One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure” director A.M. Lukas,  “No Sanctuary” producer Moriah Hall, “Departing Gestures” co-directors Brian Bolster and Jonathan Napolitano and TheWrap writer Steve Pond.

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