The Canadian Film ‘I Don’t Know Who You Are’ (TIFF) and its Star Mark Clennon

Synopsis: A man is the victim of a traumatic event, and he tries to get the resources he needs to heal from the event.
Director: M.H. Murray
Stars: Mark Clennon, Anthony Diaz, Nat Patricia Manuel

One of the great things about the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is that they recognize emerging talent with their Rising Star Awards. One of this year’s recipients, Mark Clennon, is both a writer and the star of the film I Don’t Know Who You Are.

Mark plays Benjamin, a music teacher in Toronto who has a close-knit group of friends, including Ariel (Nat Patricia Manuel). They share everything, including details of Benjamin’s new relationship with Malcolm.

Benjamin has his insecurities and hesitates to go ‘too far’ when intimate with Malcolm. Later, he finds himself at a party and flirts with another man. Benjamin is in a spiral, looking for attention and some sort of validation.

Benjamin leaves the party, and while walking home, he is confronted by an unknown man. At first, the drunk and vulnerable Benjamin is somewhat accepting of the man’s advances, but when he realizes the man is looking for a sexual encounter, he resists. But, this stranger isn’t taking ‘‘no’’ for an answer. In the ensuing violent confrontation, Benjamin is raped.

The next morning, Ariel fails to reach her friend by phone, so she heads to his apartment. Together, they go to a clinic, and Benjamin gets an HIV test. Fortunately, the result is negative, but since HIV doesn’t show up so quickly on a test, he is prescribed some medicine that he needs to keep taking until his next test. The medication is expensive, and he doesn’t have health coverage.

Now, this film about sexual assault from a queer point of view could be seen as a commentary on the Canadian medical system, but it should be a commentary on the outstanding acting of Mark Clennon.

You cannot help but feel invested in his character, especially his sense of hopelessness. He doesn’t have a rich parent or trust fund to call on. He is essentially on his own to deal with being attacked and its repercussions.

Benjamin explores different ways of raising money, including reconnecting with old friends. He doesn’t have time to deal with what has happened; he is thrust into survival mode.

M.H. Murray has directed a very strong and impressive film, and like his lead actor, he deserves recognition. This moving film effectively dramatizes the helplessness of not only Benjamin’s plight but perhaps a community as a whole.

From how the film is shot to the strong supporting cast, this is an impressive film, and Clennon is a bonafide rising star.

I Don’t Know Who You Are is a strong movie that showcases the rich film talent in Canada.

Grade: B+

Watch Keith’s interview with Mark Clennon: