Synopsis: JOSEPH boards the midnight bus once again, still heartbroken by his family’s decision to kick him out for his sexuality. Downtrodden and destitute, just trying to get some sleep, a MAN boards the same bus… ignoring every other empty seat except the one beside Joseph. Offering the boy gum, the Man finds his way “in”. They strike up conversation – predator eyes gaze at innocent prey, hands tip toe to thighs – and the Man invites Joseph back to his place
to lay his head on a proper bed.
Back at the Man’s high-rise apartment, Joseph tip-toes his fingers over a desk riddled with trophies and framed pictures of a whole life. As the Man asks Joseph about his life and his family – getting only monosyllabic responses – they find a glimmer of comfort in one another. Yet it is at this moment that Joseph notices the child support paperwork on the Man’s coffee table – bringing him back to reality. Despite his reaffirmation of discomfort, the Man approaches – soothing and swaying Joseph with his words and his touch. As Joseph’s hand clasps his pendant and eyes stare into the framed portrait of the Man’s family – with kids likely the same age as him – the Man finds his way around Josephs body and to his belt… the belt unfastens.
Joseph lays lifeless, staring out the window to the dark skyline, by the bed as the Man – now empty of any and all empathy – gets up, un-crumples something, and places a towel down beside before heading to the bathroom. As the shower water runs, Joseph sits up, but feels something beneath him. Suddenly, he thuds against the window to see a leaking stain on the bed from where is backside was. Horrified, he panics as his eyes catch the $20 bill sitting on top of the towel. Stain, towel, bill, stain, towel, bill, stain, towel… bill. His hands grasp instinctively for his chest yet find nothing to grab onto. Even more terrified, Joseph grabs the $20 and checks his pants to grab his pendant. In the palm of his hand is a pendant and accompanying cross, engraved with the words:
ALWAYS OUR SON…FOREVER MOM & DAD’S
Gleaming with a resolute sadness, his eyes make their way forward towards the balcony beyond the glass window.
Joseph makes his way onto the balcony, overlooking the midnight hour harbor. Lights along the aircraft carrier and Victorian-era vessels of the bay lay dim as the red light of the building flood Joseph’s periphery on and off. His looks down – it’s a long way down – and looks outward – it’s a ways way to what was home. His mind rings with the horns of the Lord’s Day of Judgement and the echoes of the last words he heard from his past life – his family. Joseph stretches his arm out beyond the railing. His pendant falls from his hand and dangles with the wind as he opens his palm, still gripping it with his fingers. Ringing and ringing and ringing with the sounds that he can no longer keep, the red light floods his senses as Joseph throws his palm forward…
letting go of his grip.
Bruce Clifford (The Man)
I was inspired to write this film while still in the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as its youngest member in its entire history. Created and composed by Julian Hornik, “75 Cents” was one musical movement within an entire body of work titled “@queerz” that chronicled the stories of queer youth across the country.
As a queer member of Generation Z, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly visceral emotions while rehearsing such music… so I began writing. Due to COVID-19, the Spring 2020 show was cancelled and so was my life in San Francisco. However, the manuscript was still in my laptop and my desire to tell such a story never escaped.
Originally meant to be my college transfer application visual supplement, “75 Cents” turned into a film that I knew in my heart had to be released to the world. With the blessing and support of my now former chorus, the story originally meant for the stage of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus now lives on to hopefully see the light of the silver screen.
My name is Safi Jafri. I hope this film evokes the same emotion that its musical inspiration evoked within me. This short is just one song in the grand album that is the queer experience…
Safi Jafri is a young, 20 year old filmmaker born in Houston, TX & raised in San Diego, California. Growing up brown, Muslim, and gay provided him a unique insight into the world that has always translated cinematically. Whether it be visual art, music, or photography, Safi has always found a marriage between every discipline he enjoys and film. He began truly delving into his film passions within the latter half of high school and has since earned himself multiple selections and awards for his very first short film fresh out of high school: All Too Well.
For Safi, storytelling has been foundational in the way he thinks and expresses himself to others. In his mind, writing and directing is not only a practice in self-reflection but also a practice in empathy. It is the marriage of the two that make films worth making. He currently is a student at San Francisco State University’s Cinema program while studying remotely in San Diego. Due to the success of “75 Cents” in the film festival circuit, Safi has now embarked on an even bigger, more ambitious, and fearlessly driven project: a diverse, queer-themed, and chosen-family-oriented movie called “The Best Day” that is currently in the middle of pre-production and securing funding (gofundme.com/f/thebestdayfilm).