By Indiewire | Indiewire January 20, 1998 at 2:00AM
Park City 98: An Interview with the Makers of "Pariah"
by Tom Cunha
Randolph Kret's "Pariah."
Slamdance unspooled one of its more talked about entries on Sunday night,
Randolph Kret's "Pariah", a harsh and disturbing tale that centers on one
man's vendetta against the skinhead clan who brutally assaulted him and his
girlfriend. This film distinguishes itself by closely examining the root of
such vicious behavior as opposed to others that have touched on the subject of
hate crimes with typical two dimensional characterizations (think "A Time To
Kill"). Having first screened last fall at the Hollywood Film Festival, "Pariah"
made its way to this alternative to Sundance, where its opening has garnered
positively strong reactions.
Making his feature directorial debut (after doing a short called "Vagabond
Train"), Kret wrote the screenplay based his own first hand dealings with the
subject matter. "It's based on a true story. It happened to somebody who is very
close to me, so it's a very personal story. Also, the producer's brother was a
victim of gay bashing. The producer and I had noticed that there is never really
any mention of what is happening with Skinheads." As a result, Kret and producer
Shaun Hill's goal in doing this film is to draw attention to the problem they
feel people aren't fully aware of.
indieWIRE: How have audiences reacted to the film?
Randolph Kret: We didn't even attempt to go to any studios to do this. The
reason was, I wanted to do it realistically and truthfully. We wanted to show
them for what they are. We had a screening at the Hollywood film festival and a
45 year old black minister from Atlanta came up to me and was thanking us for
making the movie. For him, and all the black audience members who have seen it
so far, they felt like we were finally shedding light on a problem that's been
ignored. By contrast, a 45 year old white male executive from a family
entertainment company in Los Angeles complained to me that I showed the
Skinheads in too bad a light and that they are not really that bad. This
is a guy that is putting out our family films. I don't know if he is ignorant
or somewhat racist and is bothered by the fact that I would show somebody of
his race in that light. 40-50 year old white males are having the worst audience
reaction to it.
iW: How large is the Skinhead movement in this country right now?
Kret: We went to the Anti-Defamation League and looked up research there.
There were like 10,000 skinheads in 1982 and there are like a million now.
So it's growing exponentially. And yet, there is not really any more press
coverage now. I wanted to show a window into this world because too many
people act like they don't exist. There are a million skinheads and that's
the most absolute hardcore extreme group of white supremacists. For every
one of them there's five KKK, Aryan brotherhood, white Aryan resistance.
For every one of them, there are ten passive racists who contribute money
but don't actually do hands-on things.
iW: There is a very horrific rape scene in the film which you juxtaposed with
clips of a Skinheads having consentual sex. What was your purpose in presenting
it this way?
Kret: There is a thin line for them between complete and total destruction of a
human being and sexual acts. There is this dividing line of hate that is right
there. So here, on the one hand, you're seeing them destroy someone's life and
on the other hand you're seeing somebody else basically enjoy themselves. Yet,
the ones that are enjoying themselves could just as easily be on the opposite
side of the fence on the drop of a hat and I wanted to show it very animalistic.
Their sex scene wasn't about satisfying each other, he was taking from her. At
the end of the scene she says she wasn't ready for her orgasm, and he's like,
"I don't care" and rolls over. It was just using somebody and that's what they
iW: Having done a lot of research on this, what is the most common reason for
someone to become involved in this?
Kret: The core is they all come from very fractured childhoods. Childhoods where
they are not loved. And in turn, they find a gang essentially that gives them
acceptance. They use the hatred that they feel from their childhood to launch
out on everybody else. But they will never attack you on their own. When it's
one person, they're cowards. They're like packs of wolves.