Artist Projects

The Happy Sad / Day Dream

Rodney Evans

Based on the play by Ken Urban, The Happy Sad is a feature film that follows two couples—one black and gay, one white and straight—whose lives become intertwined as they create new relationship norms, explore sexual identity and redefine monogamy. An official selection of Frameline37 and Outfest, The Happy Sad juxtaposes the storylines of these central characters to highlight the ethical dilemmas facing men and women who are trying to create new ways to be in a loving relationship, while recognizing that monogamy might not be for them.

Day Dream re-imagines the lives of two musical legends: Buddy Bolden, the New Orleans-based forefather of jazz who spent the last twenty-four years of his life in a mental institution, and Billy Strayhorn, the openly gay composer of the 1940s and ’50s who wrote many of Duke Ellington’s classic songs. Dreamlike and impressionistic, the film allows the two central characters to interact and comment on each other’s lives and in turn come to grips with their own internal struggles and romantic desires. As the film alternates between Bolden and Strayhorn, parallels between them start to emerge in their quests to find emotional and professional fulfillment within the confines of the music world, and the narrow expectations placed on African American men.


Project Updates

  • 2013: The Happy Sad has world premiere at Frameline37 in San Francisco

  • 2013: The Happy Sad is released theatrically at the IFC Center in New York and Los Angeles on August 16

  • 2013: The Happy Sad screens at QFest in Philadelphia

  • 2013: The Happy Sad screens at Outfest in Los Angeles

  • 2008: Reading of Day Dream takes place at HK Lounge in New York

  • 2008: NewFest hosts full staged reading of Day Dream, winner of the NewFest Screenplay Competition in New York