Tooth and Nail

by Henry Giardina

A Sara Shaw Film Tooth and Nail

Growing up queer often means feeling underrepresented, ignored, or made fun of by mainstream media. That’s why it’s so thrilling when we finally get to see an honest, moving version of ourselves onscreen that doesn’t feel pandering or contrived. When it comes to our stories being told, even the smallest, most personal tales can mean the most to those of us who have felt shut out of the conversation for so long.

Director Sara Shaw made her debut film “Tooth and Nail” with this idea in mind. As part of AT&T’s Hello Lab Mentorship Program, Shaw was able to learn from auteur Desiree Akhavan (the mind behind so many recent queer classics like “Appropriate Behavior” and “The Slope,”) in order to bring an intimate family story to life.

When closeted lesbian Kate’s politically dissonant family, including a few Trump supporters and a tech bro with a cancer diagnosis, has to come together to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday, a few hard truths come to light. Her brother Matt’s cancer has spread to his lungs, and Kate has asked him to donate his sperm to her and her partner should they decide to have kids in the future. When everything comes out at the dinner table, including Kate’s sexual identity, Kate and Matt commiserate over a few forkfuls of birthday cake.

Shaw’s film cuts to the heart of the struggle so many queer folks face during the holidays, when intolerant family members, harsh realities, and identity crises complicate what should feel like the best time of the year. Thanks to the Hello Labs Mentorship Program, which allows new voices to benefit from the experience of queer filmmakers and auteurs of color working in the industry, stories like “Tooth and Nail” can be created, financed, and brought to light.  

You can find Tooth and Nail on DIRECTV and on the DIRECTV NOW app.

To learn more about the Mentorship Program, visit AT&T Hello Lab here.

Check out the trailer for Sara Shaw's "Tooth and Nail" above.