“A poignant and sharply perceptive delight” – Stephen Saito, SMELLS LIKE SCREEN SPIRIT
Shy Texan teenager Neil has a hobby that he’s doing his best to keep secret. He writes homoerotic fan fiction about the Vanguard, a popular science fiction action hero. Neil’s understandably distraught when his notebook falls into the clutches of his sniggering classmates, but there’s some mercy to his misery. The episode introduces him to brash and impudent Julia, another student who also writes steamy riffs on an icon of fandom. In her case, it’s Fain, an Elvish fantasy heroine. He’s found a kindred spirit — and maybe something more. Through Julia, Neil discovers the welcoming online world of slash-fiction creators and admirers. The two make an excursion to the area’s big fan convention, but though they’ve found a way to escape their mundane and oppressive surroundings, they’re hardly out of the woods yet…
Though it began in early 1970s, with female Trekkies indulging their notions about Kirk and Spock, and expanded exponentially with arrival of the Internet, the sub-subculture of amateur erotic fiction for — and by — sci-fi/fantasy geeks hasn’t been explored in film the way pretty much every other aspect of the scene has. Until now, that is. Indie filmmaker Clay Liford (WUSS, EARTHLING) clearly did his research before tackling the topic in this smart, empathic, often funny and always convincing coming-of-age drama, cleverly weaving in insights for the uninitiated and the connoisseur alike while keeping the relationship between Neil and Julia front and centre. Examining the marginal and in some respects ethically volatile fan-fic movement, Liford treats the topic with neither snide derision nor naïve reverence. It’s a tough tightrope to walk — but then, isn’t adolescence?
— Rupert Bottenberg