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Steve Buscemi Says His LGBT Gang Doc ‘Check It’ is a Call to Action

Steve Buscemi Says His LGBT Gang Doc 'Check It' is a Call to Action

Steve Buscemi‘s Olive Productions is shopping a documentary at The Tribeca Film Festival that centers on the unlikely intersection of two American subcultures: LGBT youth and gang violence.

Executive produced in conjunction with RadicalMedia, “Check It” follows the members of Washington D.C.’s gang the Check It, started in 2009 by a group of gay and transgender teens who have been shot, stabbed and raped in some of the most horrific examples of U.S. gay bashing in recent history. Many members of the gang have criminal records that include charges like assault, armed robbery and drug dealing. Living in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of nation’s capital, the gang is now working to create their own clothing label, hosting fashion shows and working jobs as runway models.

“Check It” directors Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer most recently directed the 2009 feature-length documentary “The Nine Lives of Marion Barry,” about the infamous former Mayor of Washington D.C., which appeared on HBO. Buscemi and Olive Productions’ Wren Arthur and Stanley Tucci got on board as producers after seeing early footage of “Check It” from the directing team, which spent more than three years documenting the lives of the gang’s members.

One of the reasons Buscemi joined as an executive producer was to shine a light on an urgent situation that has attracted virtually zero media attention. 

“It’s happening in D.C. just a couple miles
from the White House, and I don’t think these kids or their
problems are really known,” Buscemi said. “When people are not exposed to gay and
transgender people they can form an opinion that’s not really based on anything
real, that’s just based on fear.” He added that he doesn’t condone violence in any way, and that the Check It gang differs from typical gangs in that it exists for the purpose of self-preservation rather than committing violent acts.
“For me, the message is, if you want something done, band together and help and support each other,” Buscemi said. He originally formed his production company in 2008 to help get he and Tucci’s directing projects off the ground, before taking on other scripted and documentary projects. “We just decided that we weren’t going to be so narrow in just wanting to direct our own features.”

For Arthur, “Check It” has the potential to make a difference in the lives of the gang members, many of whom she says are working their way out of their troubled situation.

“I’ve always felt that the moment that I saw this footage that this is an important film and hopefully it will be able to build bridges,” she said. “While this is the only gay gang that we know of
in the country, I can’t fathom that there aren’t other factions of disenfranchised
left out youth in this situation in the LGBT community.”

Olive Productions has produced two seasons of Buscemi’s Emmy-nominated web series “Park Bench with Steve Buscemi,” and is currently in post-production on writer-director Amber Tamblyn’s debut feature “Paint It Black,” a drama starring Alia Shawkat and Alfred Molina.

Watch the trailer for Tribeca entry “Elvis and Nixon” below.

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