SYNOPSIS

BY HOOK OR BY CROOK is a buddy film that chronicles three weeks in the life of a handsome, gender-bending, small-town butch with a nagging messiah-complex. Emotionally defeated since the death of her father, SHY heads to the big city to sink herself into a "life of crime". She is quickly distracted by VALENTINE, a deliriously expressive, wise-acre adoptee on a misguided search for her birthmother. The two freaky grifters join forces and learn the true meaning of "poise under pressure" in this visually stunning and wonderfully acted, anti-authoritarian tale of friendship, trust and redemption.

A true tragic-comedy, BY HOOK OR BY CROOK is like a female version of MIDNIGHT COWBOY—hilarious, poignant and brave, bringing grace and humor to its socially insightful subjects. It is also the first of its kind: It’s a movie about butches by butches and gives voice to a powerful new creative sensibility.

Shot at over 64 locations by indie vet D.P. Ann T. Rossetti (Go Fish) and directed with lush detail by first-time directors—the artist/rockstar duo Dodge and Howard—BY HOOK OR BY CROOK opens a carnival peephole into a world almost never before captured in a narrative film: the lives of real, working class butches (and the ladies who love them). A lucid piece of cinema verité with fearless moments of magic realism, this film is as rowdy as it is tender in its groundbreaking gender exploration and treatment of human fallibility, resilience and dignity. Sketches of mental illness and money troubles are made fresh with the rough and touching combination of rusty hot-rod glamour and unselfconscious vulnerability.

Exploiting the full potential of digital video, the film’s vibrating colors and luminous presence sustain a photographic vision, relaying imagery from an American gothic landscape without dipping toward sentimentality or the voyeur’s wink. The main characters, SHY and VALENTINE, live in and around this world with the intimacy of insiders, as well as the wariness of those who have been relegated to the outside. These characters are thus hauntingly familiar and completely original. With acutely unique stories and styles, this film deftly circumvents stereotype and posturing and rises to the task of portraying gorgeous human intricacy, with the incisive, self-reflective wit and generosity of a great novel. The premiere feature from Steakhaus and NGB Productions, the film also introduces acclaimed writer/performer Stanya Kahn, who brings original dialogue and a powerful performance as BILLIE. True grit and the sexiness of a naked landscape: BY HOOK OR BY CROOK is utterly post-post-modern, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.

 

“Harriet Dodge and Silas Flipper’s butch noir buddy film,
BY HOOK OR BY CROOK, garnered
the grand jury award for screenwriting
and the audience award for narrative feature.”
(at OUTFEST 2001)
– Eileen Kowalski, VARIETY

 

WHY THIS FILM IS IMPORTANT

Strongly character-driven, BY HOOK OR BY CROOK puts a unique spin on a traditional Hollywood staple (the buddy movie) and faces social ills and issues straight on.

The film investigates gender-identity with sly sense of humor and keen observations about the frailty of human nature. BY HOOK OR BY CROOK'S protagonists Valentine and Shy are shown grappling with their hopes, dreams and fears--universal themes that are not based on their sexuality.

In the tradition of Ma Vie En Rose, Paris is Burning, and Boys Don't Cry; By Hook or By Crook is made from an insider's perspective, lending dignity to it's subject matter.