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Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation/2023 Houston Fringe Festival
Part documentary, part narrative fiction, part home movie, and part acid trip, Tarnation is a psychedelic whirlwind of snapshots, Super-8 home movies, old answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, snippets of ‘80s pop culture, and dramatic reenactments that create an epic portrait of an American family travesty. The story begins in 2003 when Jonathan learns that his schizophrenic mother, Reneee, has overdosed on her lithium medication. He is catapulted back into his real and horrifying family legacy of rape, abandonment, promiscuity, drug addition, child abuse, and psychosis. As he grows up on camera, he finds the escapist balm of queer music theater and B horror flicks and reconnects to life through a queer chosen family. Then a look into the future shows Jonathan as he confronts the symbiotic and almost unbearable love he shares with his beautiful and tragically damaged mother.
The screening of Tarnation will be followed by a panel discussion led by Stephanie Saint Sanchez (Seniorita Cinemas) and Kristian Salinas (formerly of QFest). This screening will contribute funds to Jonathan’s current medical recovery journey.