Anton (Gabriel Casseus) isn’t like the other guys in Harlem. He is 28
years old and a little slow, but has a heart of gold and an
extraordinary singing voice. Because of his deficit, Anton’s never had a
chance to realize the dream that sets him apart in his working class
neighborhood: to become a world class opera singer.
His over-protective Auntie, whom he lives with, is unable to accept that Anton is no longer a child, nor that his dream of singing opera is
serious. All she sees are the obstacles her nephew faces daily: his
dead-end job as a laundry worker with a manipulative boss, the local
drug dealer who enjoys exploiting the overly trusting Anton for his own
gain, and the neighborhood children who mimic his slow speech and
stunted walk. When two teenagers bully Anton because of his opera
singing, Auntie, frightened for his safety, argues with Anton that he
give up his “opera foolishness.” But, rather than give up his dream, he
runs away from home determined to find his rightful place in the world.
Life on New York’s streets is hard and Anton is soon conned out of his
money by Wes (Damon Wayans), a quick-witted street hustler. Homeless, he wanders the streets, panhandling in Washington Square Park, where he encounters Matthew (Christian Camargo), a charismatic 30 year old, playing popular piano tunes for tips. Anton and Matthew team up to earn money and gain exposure, but Matthew’s real intentions aren’t immediately recognizable to the trusting Anton. Only when Wes returns with a surprising offer to “manage” Anton’s career does an unlikely friendship form between the three men, each one trying desperately to change the course of their lives and pursue their dreams.
HARLEM ARIA will play at the Cinema Village in New York City this Friday March 5.