Documentary “I Am Divine” to resonate with many in Key West


KEY WEST, Fla. – Director Jeffrey Schwarz developed an early obsession to cult classic films, particularly those directed by John Waters and starring Divine so it seems only fitting he should direct a film dedicated to the lead protagonist in many of Waters’ films.

“I Am Divine,” showing Thursday, Nov. 14 at the San Carlos Institute, 516 Duval St., is a biographical portrait of Harris Glenn Milstead a.k.a. Divine, who grew up in Baltimore and attended high school with John Waters where the two quickly formed a bond as outsiders and outcasts. Frequently bullied in the schoolyard, Harris eventually transformed himself into his larger-than-life alter-ego Divine, revolutionizing pop culture with his in-your-face style, outrageous outfits and make-up that helped him reach cult status as both a personality and performer.

“I’m looking forward to attending the festival and meeting Divine’s friends and fans, and also introducing him to a new generation who might not be familiar with this incredible individual,” Schwarz said. “I hope people who go to the film expecting it to be just pure camp and comedy (which it certainly has its share of) come away with a deeper appreciation of Divine’s life, his struggles, and his bravery.”

The film features movie clips, rare home movies and photos, television appearances and live performance footage. Interviews with many of Divine’s family, friends, colleagues and devotees including a final interview with his mother Frances Milstead along with his close friend John Waters, actors Ricki Lake, Mink Stole and Tab Hunter who starred in films with Divine as well as Holly Woodlawn, Michael Musto and Bruce Vilanch.

Showcasing the film at the Key West Film Festival, preceded with a performance by Waters and followed by a Q&A with Schwarz, is an almost homecoming for Divine.

“I am absolutely thrilled ‘I Am Divine” is having its Key West premiere at the Key West Film Festival. Divine had a very special place in his heart for Key West, having both lived and performed there many times,” Schwarz said. “He spent so much of his time traveling the world, when he returned to Key West, he felt at home in the sunshine and atmosphere of love and acceptance.”


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