Tag Archives: Tami Gold

3 New Day Films Stream for Free in Response to the Orlando Tragedy

By Briar March

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A National Tragedy

On June 12, 2016, an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, became the worst mass shooting in modern US history. For three filmmakers at New Day, the tragic massacre was deeply personal. Having worked previously on films about hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ community, they felt compelled to take immediate steps to engage others in discussions about homophobia and the process of healing.

When New Day member Tami Gold heard of the attacks, she was devastated. She writes, “It was a heart-wrenching reminder of the escalating levels of violence gay, lesbian, queer and transgender people face throughout the United States.” For Gold, the incident brought back painful memories of a hate crime that she had documented in her film Puzzles: When Hate Came to Town. Co-directed with David Pavlovsky, the film documents the impact of a 2006 shooting in a LGBTQ bar in New Bedford called Puzzles. The young perpetrator attempted to shoot three bar patrons and later killed himself and two others. Gold and Pavlovsky purposefully include a wide range of voices – from members of the perpetrator’s radical gang, to victims and their families, as well as gay and straight patrons of the bar. These multiple perspectives viewed over several years allow Puzzles to reveal how a culture of hate and fear can eventually lead to violent acts.

After the Orlando tragedy, Gold decided to make her film available for free online. She says the broad reach achieved, including two local broadcasts and several media interviews, has been very encouraging. Gold has also invited audiences to share their responses on her website and Facebook pages. She explains,

“If there was ever a time to tackle this crisis, it is now, and we want to be part of this discussion.”

Viewers have expressed immense gratitude: “Watching Puzzles was the antidote to the sense of despair I felt,” says one woman on Gold’s Vimeo page. Another remarks, “I still hurt over the people murdered in Orlando, but it helps me to talk about this with friends everywhere… it’s a great way to generate a conversation.”

Another New Day film that explores the impact of hate crimes on a community is New Day member Beverly Seckinger’s documentary Laramie Inside Out. In it, Seckinger returns to her hometown to make sense of the tragic murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student who was brutally beaten and left to die in 1998. The murder put Laramie into the media spotlight and sparked a nationwide debate. As Seckinger confronts her own closeted youth in Laramie, she interviews different community members. While the “God-hates-fags” Westboro Baptist Church continues to condemn Shepard and all LBGTQ people, Seckinger is heartened to see that many people have started speaking out and taking action.

“I realized then that a history lesson was in order, and that my film might provide some desperately needed perspective and inspiration.”

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“Angel Action” activists take flight in Laramie, Wyoming

While Puzzles and Laramie Inside Out document the aftermath of LGBTQ hate crimes on communities, Yun Suh’s film City of Borders provides a hopeful message about peace and unity. Set inside the only gay bar in Jerusalem, Suh introduces us to five Israeli and Palestinian patrons who have found common ground and a sense of community.

Shortly after 9/11, Suh noticed a growing trend in the media to demonize Muslims, who were often depicted as violent fanatics. Compelled to show another perspective, Suh chose to follow Israeli Palestinians who are proud to be gay and Muslim. She writes, “I was so inspired by the courage of the young people who chose to break the cycle of hatred and violence that they were taught and chose to love and laugh in spite of all the threats that surrounded them just outside their sanctuary.”  

In the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy, Suh was struck by the media’s focus on the gunman’s alleged connections to terrorism and radical extremism. She notes, “The Orlando tragedy surfaced the widespread Islamophobia and xenophobia that exists in this country. When the shooter, Omar Mateen, was identified as Muslim, the mainstream media and politicians were quick to push their anti-Islam bias and label this massacre as an act of terrorism rather than a hate crime.”

Amidst all the incendiary headlines and rhetoric, City of Borders provides a voice of reason, reminding viewers that it is possible for a community to find peaceful connections despite war and differences in religion and ideology. As with Gold’s and Seckinger’s films, there is still a chance to take action and inspire social change. Suh writes,

“There is far greater power and beauty in our diversity and unity that remains untapped.”

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Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike find refuge in a bar in Jerusalem

While many of us are still trying to recover from Orlando’s tragedy, these three powerful films offer up a glimmer of hope. From now until September 1, view them online for free. Simply click on the appropriate film below, add a 3-day streaming license to your shopping cart, and apply the following promo code:  NEWS716.

Puzzles: When Hate Came to Town

Laramie Inside Out

City of Borders

Learn more about the rest of New Day’s award-winning LGBT titles here. And for ideas on how to teach LGBT issues in the classroom, have a look at this excellent blog post by New Day filmmaker Nomy Lamm.

New Day Filmmakers Advocate for Indie Voices on PBS

New Day filmmakers are joining colleagues across the country urging educators, librarians and organizers to tell PBS why they need independent social issue films.

PBS, recently accused of lessening their commitment to independent film, is now holding a “National Listening Tour,” soliciting input on the place of indie film on public television.

PBS tours the country to discuss the role of independent docs in public media
PBS’s National Listening Tour stops off in NYC

The tour’s first stop was in San Francisco on January 17, where about 200 filmmakers, educators, organizers and documentary lovers let PBS know they are upset about the recent attempt by New York’s WNET to push POV and Independent Lens — the two indie documentary shows — onto WLIW, its smaller, secondary station. The shows would also continue on WNET, but in a late-night time slot.

After filmmakers protested the decision, WNET postponed it, and organized the Listening Tour.  While PBS officials repeatedly told the audience they support independent film, many of the filmmakers were skeptical. They insisted that losing support from WNET — public television’s flagship station — would make it increasingly impossible for them to make films. Furthermore, they suggested that by going along with WNET’s plan, PBS tacitly supported it.

At the January 23 New York stop on the listening tour, New Day Films member Tami Gold told PBS officials:

What is at stake by PBS decreasing its commitment to independent documentary films is the loss of one of the last remaining outlets for alternative views and independent thinking on American television. Primetime programs like POV and Independent Lens are more important now than ever.  Most documentaries bring to light widespread injustices, their human consequences and underlying causes. They tell stories that are all too often hidden among the thousands of vacuous TV stations and programs.

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New Day filmmaker TAMI GOLD takes center stage

Many filmmakers are calling on PBS to require primetime “common carriage” for Independent Lens and POV — meaning that major stations in each market would have to run the shows at the same time. They argue that only common carriage can attract national media — and a national audience — to a film.

In San Francisco, New Day Films member Susan Stern said, “What we’ve been hearing from our members and other documentary makers is that common carriage in prime time is the baseline. We need that. We want to work with you, because we think the audience is there. We think that’s what people want.”

Gold also made the point that while PBS is expanding its offerings on digital platforms, millions of people can’t access their programming that way. “Some of the people in our documentary Every Mother’s Son wanted to join us today to talk about what it has meant to have their stories broadcast on national primetime PBS, but they couldn’t rsvp for this very meeting because they don’t have internet acccess,” she said.

While the exchange between filmmakers and PBS was pointed, some of the most poignant testimony came from people who use independent film. In San Francisco Esta Soler, founder of Futures Without Violence, one of the world’s leading violence prevention agencies, said at-risk youth are inspired when they see films about incarcerated low-income people of color who turn their lives around. “If you want to see students engaged — put on a documentary,” Soler said.

Chris Armes, a young public health student, agreed. Armes suffered a childhood disability that rendered him mute, and isolated in front of the TV.  He said he was saved by documentaries. “Don’t take away the voice of the voiceless,” Armes said.

The next listening tour will be in Chicago in March (date TBD). To attend or contact PBS on behalf of independent film, go to the website to preserve indie film on PBS: http://www.indiecaucus.org/