As North Carolinians debate a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to permanently deny marriage rights to same-sex couples, rather than rely on typical campaign commercials, the guys behind Working Films are trying an alternative strategy called Reel Equality.
The project is a North Carolina–based initiative that highlights real couples and families whose lives have been affected by antigay laws and policies like the proposed Amendment 1.
"The concept for us using documentary film to promote activism is important," says Andy Myers, one of the principals of Working Films. "Seeing a documentary about gay people provides an outlet for empathy."
So far five of the documentaries — some of which have been honored by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — have been completed, and another is in production. The films were initially screened all across North Carolina, but they will be eventually shown in at least 20 locations.
Click through to view trailers from each of the documentaries.
The first film, Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness, explores the struggle seen during the Massachusetts state constitutional convention. The film follows state representative Byron Rushing, a veteran advocate for civil rights who challenged religious and political opponents in the fight for recognition of marriage as a human right.
Out in Silence chronicles the heated battles that come up after the announcement of a same-sex marriage and the bullying of a gay teen in a small Pennsylvania town. The film has won an Emmy and continues to challenge viewers to rethink their views on LGBT people.
The film Freeheld documents the last year of Det. Lt. Laurel Hester's life. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Hester fights to transfer her pension to her partner, Stacie Andree. Even after being denied, Hester refuses to give up the fight.
SoleJourney follows families as they fight the anti-LGBT activism of the organization Focus on the Family.
The documentary Gen Silent follow an epidemic seen more and more in aging LGBT individuals. LGBT seniors are often afraid of facing discrimination from their caregivers or bullying from other seniors. The documentary shows seniors struggling with fear and isolation, along with the possibility of going back into the closet.