At 16, Elegance Bratton left home because his mother wouldn’t accept his sexuality. He spent the better part of the next decade on the streets before joining the Marine Corps, a decision that would eventually set him on the path to becoming a world-renowned photographer and filmmaker.
All these years later, Bratton is telling his story in The Inspection, a highly anticipated drama set to make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Hollywood breakout Jeremy Pope stars as Ellis French, a young Black man—loosely based on Bratton—rejected by his own mother for being gay. With nowhere else to turn, French enlists in the Marines, which offers both a lifeline and further complications as he struggles to hide his sexuality in a time before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
As if the grueling routine of basic training wasn’t enough, French encounters homophobia at all levels, from fellow recruits to commanding officers, who nearly push him to his breaking point. But, according to the film’s official synopsis, boot camp is also a place where he’ll find “unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support,” and a new sense of purpose that will “forever change his life.”
In addition to the Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-nominated Pope, The Inspection stars Gabrielle Union as French’s mom, Inez, who appears to be the exact opposite of the upstanding ally parent we know Union to be. It should be quite a jaw-dropping, dramatic turn for the Bring It On actress—both she and Pope will surely be names you’ll be hearing a lot of this coming awards season.
Looking‘s Raúl Castillo, Fargo‘s Bokeem Woodbine, and Port Authority‘s McCaul Lombardi also star.
The Inspection represents Bratton’s first foray into narrative feature filmmaking, following up his celebrated documentary, Pier Kids—about the queer youth who call New York’s Christopher Street Pier home—and his Viceland reality series My House, which turned the spotlight on ballroom culture.
You can watch the brand-new trailer for The Inspection below, which was just unveiled ahead of the film’s TIFF festival premiere next month. A theatrical release date has yet to be announced.