Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Take A Stand Against Hate in Western Pennsylvania -- Building Change Film Festival - Pittsburgh - October 14

Award-winning Gay Rights Doc to Screen in Pittsburgh's Building Change Film Festival

OUT IN THE SILENCE, an acclaimed documentary that looks at an issue of urgent local and national concern -- fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people -- will be featured in Pittsburgh's Building Change Film Festival, part of Building Change: A Convergence for Social Justice, the first-ever gathering of people and organizations from across Southwestern Pennsylvania who share a common goal of advancing social justice and change in our region and world.

The screening is scheduled for Friday, October 14 at 5:00pm at the Point Park University Theater. Filmmaker Joe Wilson, a native of nearby Oil City, PA, will be on-hand for a post-screening conversation to get the audience fired up about building the local movement for justice & equality.

The Pittsburgh screening holds special significance because Western Pennsylvania is not only the setting for the stories in OUT IN THE SILENCE, it is home base for the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, the state affiliate of the American Family Association, a national 'traditional values' organization that was recently designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for the “thoroughly discredited falsehoods and demonizing propaganda it pumps out about homosexuality and other sexual minorities.”

(The American Family Association of Pennsylvania features prominently in the film as a result of the role it plays in promoting vicious anti-LGBT bigotry in the area and throughout the state.)

A highlight of the post-screening discussion will be an examination of the explosive new SPLC Intelligence Report titled “THE PROPAGANDISTS: Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association & the Demonization of LGBT People.”

At an Oct. 10 screening of OUT IN THE SILENCE in Tupelo, MS, home base for the American Family Association, "A Bomb Threat Failed to Derail First-ever Equality Event in Tupelo!"

OUT IN THE SILENCE captures the remarkable chain of events that unfold when a same-sex wedding announcement and the brutal bullying of a gay teen ignite a ļ¬restorm of controversy and a quest for change in a small Pennsylvania town (Oil City). Tough and wrenching, inspiring and entertaining, this Emmy Award-winning film is challenging audiences across the country, and around the world, to rethink their values and consider how they can help close the gaps that have divided families, friends, churches, and communities on these issues for far too long.

The film was produced in association with the Sundance Institute and Penn State Public Broadcasting, premiered at the 2010 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York, and won an Emmy Award for Achievement in Documentary.

“The characters in the film are just ordinary people – a kid and his mom, two women who start a business, an Evangelical preacher and his wife – but their stories get at the heart of how anti-LGBT stigma and repression continue to harm individuals and divide communities,” said filmmaker Wilson. “That's why I'm using it as a tool for education and activism, especially in small towns and rural communities, where there often isn't any visible or organized gay presence at all.”

At the heart of the campaign is a dedication to the idea that small acts of LGBT visibility in places where they are rare, and sometimes unwelcome, help to raise awareness and open-up dialogue in profound new ways and create ripple effects and opportunities to organize for change that go far and wide.

Some of the campaign's events have been targeted by opponents for protests and threats. See “Potter County Library Faced Threats Over Gay Documentary” (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

More often, however, “they have become forums, a place to meet where there has been no place, to talk where there is a desire to talk but little occasion,” wrote JoAnn Wypijewski in The Nation.

The Pittsburgh screening is especially significant because the region is home to one of the most homophobic and transphobic members of the state legislature, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County. Metcalfe is consistently one of the biggest obstacles to achieving justice and full inclusion for Pennsylvania's LGBT residents, and a regular promoter of divisive measures such as the ANTI-marriage equality constitutional amendment being re-introduced this year.

Filmmaker Wilson hopes that state and local elected representatives, civic, community and religious leaders will attend the event to express their support for inclusion, fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all people, particularly youth, who call the region home.

To see a trailer or for more information about the film, please visit: OutintheSilence.com

Film Synopsis: When a popular 16-year-old jock is brutally bullied for coming out at his small town high school, his mother reaches out for help to the only person she feels she can trust, an openly gay man who lives 300 miles away – native son and filmmaker Joe Wilson, whose same-sex wedding announcement ignited a firestorm of controversy in the local paper. Returning home with camera in hand, Wilson documents the harrowing but ultimately successful battle waged by the teen and his mom against recalcitrant school authorities, the efforts of a lesbian couple to restore an historic theater in the face of vitriolic anti-gay attacks, and his own unexpected friendship with an Evangelical preacher. Intertwined with these heartfelt stories is Wilson's exploration of the role that the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Family Association plays in stoking anti-gay bigotry in the town. At once tough, wrenching, inspiring, and entertaining, OUT IN THE SILENCE ultimately shows the individual and community transformations that are possible when people, on all sides of these challenging issues, lay down their swords and take the time to get to know one another.

As walls are torn down and bridges built, OUT IN THE SILENCE offers a fascinating and moving commentary on America's culture war.


“A stunning documentary” - The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Film Critic's Pick-of-the-Week” - New York Times

“Though the film is made by two gay men, it doesn't seek to promote a “gay agenda” or to stereotype the “religious right.” It's simply a matter of trying to understand attitudes in small-town America.” - Christianity Today

“Most moving are the stories of heterosexuals who transform because of their relationships with GLBT people.” - American Library Association

“After 'Out In The Silence' played at Williamsport's Community Arts Center in September 2010, I was compelled to write the following message on the film's official website: “Your film does cause one to reflect on one’s own behavior and prejudice. I consider myself a progressive African-American, but the film caused me to doubt my relatively conservative attitudes about homosexuality and the bigotry against gays and lesbians. Mistreatment of another human being is wrong. But, I have not taken a strong stance against the bigotry. I will do better.” - Richard James, Founder, Billtown Film Festival

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