The most touching moment in Jennifer M. Kroot's “To Be Takei” is the wedding of the beloved Star Trek icon to his longtime partner Brad Altman. Enterprise shipmates Nichelle Nichols (Uhuru) and Walter Koenig (Checkov) served as ring bearers, while Altman's lesbian mom and her partner smiled proudly.
Kroot's film is a valentine to the life and career of the actor, social justice humanitarian, and the best face the LGBT community could have asked for. “To Be Takei” will premiere on July 3 on DirecTV on Demand for an exclusive one month run. A theatrical release will follow.
There are so many unforgettable moments in the film. A few years ago, the State of Tennessee, a conservative stronghold, introduced legislation to ban use of the word 'gay' in the state's school system. Takei's solution: Say Takei instead of gay. "It's OK to be Takei," he said with a smile.
The film also reveals the depth of the animosity between Takei and William Shatner, Star Trek's top billed star. Whether this is rooted in Takei's homosexuality remains unclear, but one thing is obvious: the two stars don't like each other!
Kroot and Takei take viewers back to his WWII childhood, part of which was spent in a Japanese internment camp after the Japanese government bombed Pear Harbor in 1941. Archival photographs from actual camps reveal the depth of the degradation that Japanese Americans were forced to endure.
The experience has haunted Takei throughout his life and inspired him to use his celebrity as a tool to fight for social justice for all peoples. Recently shot footage shows Takei onstage in San Diego, co-starring in Allegiance, a new musical drama about the camps — plans are now underway to move the show to Broadway.
There are still moments which sting. When Takei and Altman travel to Japan so Takei could receive an award from the Emperor, Altman is denied access to the ceremony because they're not considered a couple — both men speak eloquently of how painful this incident was.
There's no narration offered in the film. Kroot chooses instead to focus the camera on her extraordinary subject and allows him — and those in his life — to speak for themselves. It's a mesmerizing portrait of one our finest role models.
To Be Takei: July 3-August 5
DirecTV on Demand