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Seven Docs to Watch if You’re Mad as Hell About the Orlando Shootings

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Under the Gun

Casey De La Rosa

Like a lot of people, I’ve spent much of the past week thinking about the recent attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando—the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. As the initial shock and sadness of those events gave way to the kind of shock and sadness that stays with you, I also began to feel angry at what transpired. Those feelings were summed up pretty perfectly by John P. Sullivan in a post for Medium.com, which is worth a read if you haven’t already.

I, for one, am looking for ways to put this anger to good use. Not to sit in quiet, seething resentment that something so incredibly, senselessly violent has become a common occurrence or that the LGBTQ+ community is still so unsafe or that the U.S. Senate still can’t pass gun control measures that would save lives—but to be visible and vocal about the undeniable, urgent need for real change.

Despite this tragedy, there’s a lot for us to be proud of this LGBTQ+ Pride month—including the fact that this is a community of fighters. We’ve had to fight for every right we’ve gotten in the last 50 years, and the progress we’ve made—and the progress we have yet to make—is well-documented in these and other films. Above all else, these films chronicle the difference each of us can make, and show us how to turn pain and anger into a force for good.

How to Survive a Plague

“Faced with their own mortality, an improbable group of mostly HIV-positive young men and women broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment. How to Survive a Plague is the story of two coalitions whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.”

The Times of Harvey Milk

“Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in United States history, had been serving on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors only 11 months when he, along with Mayor George Moscone, was assassinated in 1978 by Dan White, a fellow supervisor disillusioned with the constant compromise of city politics and an opponent on gay-rights issues. The Times of Harvey Milk interweaves newsreel footage and personal interviews to construct a compelling portrait of these turbulent times.”

Under the Gun

“Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig and Katie Couric join forces to create a documentary that is scrupulously comprehensive and decidedly fair to both sides of one of the most polarizing issues that is tearing our country apart. Searing and powerful with never-before-seen footage of the shooting in Aurora, Under the Gun gives a human face to a crisis that is costing us in blood and scarring the conscience of a nation.”

The Case Against 8

“A behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, the film follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

We Were Here

“Elegiac but inspirational, We Were Here bears witness to the experiences of those who died—and, equally importantly, those who lived—in the earliest years of the AIDS epidemic. Its story is universal, showing the capacity for compassion and strength in all of us, even against unimaginable adversity.”

Valentine Road

“In 2008, eight-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point-blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crimes well as its startling aftermath.”

Small Town Gay Bar

Small Town Gay Bar presents an intimate portrait of gay bars across the Deep South and the patrons who inhabit them. Focusing primarily on two bars in Mississippi, Rumors and Crossroads, the film introduces us to their proprietors as they struggle to stand their ground in hostile terrain.”

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

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