News

POSTED ON Oct 20, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

#SLGFF19 Jury and Audience Award Winners

#SLGFF19 Jury and Audience Award Winners

Jury Awards for Excellence in Filmmaking

Our Awards for Excellence in Filmmaking are chosen by an esteemed panel of jurors and include a cash prize. 

Short Film Jury: Syriah Bailey, Ruth Soto, and Robbie Turner.

Feature Narrative Film Jury: Fran Dunaway, Brace Evans, and Davora Lindner. 

Documentary Film Jury: Parris Broderick, Clyde Petersen, and Zachary Pullin. 

 

Short Film Jury Awards

Best Short Film: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

Directed by Melissa Finell

USA

Jury statement: "DISASTER PREPAREDNESS is a comedic human relations story with three dimensional characters. It is a metaphorical storm with great writing, acting and sound."

 

Most Innovative Short: UNICORN

Directed by Rodrigo Bellot

Bolivia

Jury statement: "UNICORN has unique cinematography, sound and lighting. It is a different kind of storyline. An exposé documentary told through an exquisite narrative of a difficult real life event."

 

Documentary Film Jury Awards

Best Documentary Feature: OUT IN THE NIGHT

Directed by Blair Dorosh-Walther, Produced by Giovanna Chesler, USA

Jury statement: "OUT IN THE NIGHT emphasizes the dire need for justice and elicits an urgent call for equality in our systemically biased judicial system. And even more, it implores us all to reflect on how we challenge the criminalization of black bodies, especially queer black bodies, in America."

 

Honorable Mention, Documentary: KUMU HINA

Directed by Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson, USA

Jury statement: "KUMU HINA highlights the value in preserving one’s own culture and for challenging a rigid gender binary. Mahalo, Kumu Hina."

 

Narrative Feature Film Jury Awards

Best Narrative Feature: APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR

Directed by Desiree Akhavan, USA

Jury statement: "A hilariously bold new voice in queer cinema. Desiree Akhavan’s seductively watchable film presents a fearless examination of the complexities of identity."


Honorable Mention, Narrative Feature:  DRUNKTOWN'S FINEST

Directed by Sydney Freeland, USA

Jury statement: "A portrait of three characters told in an insightful and hopeful way within the world of the Navajo culture."

 

Audience Award Winners (determined by popular vote of #SLGFF19 audience members)

Favorite Documentary: OUT IN THE NIGHT
First runner up: STATES OF GRACE
Favorite Feature: THE WAY HE LOOKS
First runner up: DRUNKTOWN'S FINEST
Lesbian Short Film: NANCY FROM EASTSIDE CLOVER
Gay Short Film: MAIKARU
Transgender Short Film: BEYOND THE MIRROR'S GAZE

Thank you all for taking the time to #queeritup this year and we can't wait to see you for #SLGFF20 in 2015!

POSTED ON Oct 16, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Exploring the meaning of family by going to THE DARK PLACE

Director Jody Wheeler explains how the complixities of family and friendships led him to explore THE DARK PLACE, which plays Saturday, Oct. 18 at 9:45pm. 

We're stuck with our families. If it's any consolation, our families are stuck with us. 

That was one of the ideas I wrestled with in creating this story: family. Since we don't get to pick the family we're born into (if you did, let me know how you swung that; there's a movie there) we all hope that we get a beautiful and supportive one, something out of the best sitcom or Disney Channel movie. We're afraid we've gotten some monstrous, a nightmare of Shakespearian proportions, full of dark people with darker desires.

Yet most of us get something in the middle, some complex collection of bits of all the above, plus a whole host of things we've never seen or heard of before. It's rewarding at times, but quite maddening in others. Worse, just when we think we've figured out our birth family, it goes and changes on us, be it through death, divorce, adoption or remarriage.

But there's another kind of family we get: the chosen one. These are the people we let into our life willingly, lovingly, hopefully for the better. These people are often a still greater mystery. Like our birth family, these people just won't leave us, no matter how much we want them to, how much distance we put them, or how hard we try to forget about them. They shape us in just as interesting and unique ways as our birth family. We love them all, constructed or consigned, even when we aren't sure why.

These relationships live in our mind. They live in the memories, emotions and experiences of everyday life. Indeed, most of our memories are about our families.

We often strive to recreate the best memories of our birth families with our chosen circle and will frequently flee back and forth between both kinds when the crushing burden of our thoughts and emotions force us to find solace somewhere.

The blessed thing for most of us is, no matter how tough our thoughts and memories are, we at least forget things. We forget the wrongs done to us by those we love. We forget the wrongs
we did to those we love. We have to. It's the only thing that keeps us sane.

But if you couldn't forget, if last year was just a real as the last hour, you might just go mad. And that is the second fascinating element I wanted to explore.

In telling the story of THE DARK PLACE, I wanted to put someone in the middle of those interlocking themes who couldn't forget. Someone who experienced every joy and pain they ever had presently, constantly.

Being the slightly demented soul that I am, the only way to make that even more intense is to add someone trying to kill the protagonist, for painful reasons all their own.

Lastly, just to play fair, I had to make sure that person was every bit as brilliant, intelligent, perceptive and totally fucked up as Keegan Andrew Dark.


-Jody Wheeler
Director Jody Wheeler and Producers Steve Parker and Carlos Pedraza will attend the screening.

POSTED ON Oct 13, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

In With the New Out- A Fresh Place to Tell Our Stories

This post was brought to you by Kieran Turner, the force behind our new LGBT Web Series Panel (Oct. 18 at 1pm). 

Where the Bears AreWhen I was growing up as a young gay teen, I was lucky enough to be doing it during the beginning of a great time in LGBT filmmaking.  From the late ‘80s into the mid ‘90s, it seemed as though the opportunities to tell really wonderful, groundbreaking, non-stereotypical stories about gay characters in film would continue to flourish.  I jumped in with both feet.

And then it all fell apart.

In the past decade, independent film has all but collapsed.  And gay independent film… well, let’s just say the promise has not been fulfilled.  Despite the far between successes of films like BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN or MILK, fewer and fewer distributors are willing to take chances on true LGBT themed independent films.  And gay owned and operated film companies have been churning out straight to DVD product that marginalizes us worse than any portrayals from mainstream cinema 40 years ago.  Well, at least they’re cheap to produce.

In 2012, I was on the festival circuit with a documentary I’d made called JOBRIATH A.D., which was about a glam rock musician from the 70s named Jobriath, who was the first openly gay rock star.  Here was a piece of little known LGBT and rock and roll history that brought glam, glitter, rock and sex all together in one place. 

And no one cared.

The film played the festival circuit, mainstream and LGBT (including the folks here in Seattle), won awards, got great reviews and was eventually picked up for (very limited) theatrical distribution.  But I’m pretty sure I couldn’t spend the better part of a half day counting up the number of people who even heard of the film, let alone had seen it.  And I’d spent four years making it.

Where did I go wrong?

I tell LGBT themed stories.  I do it because I want to share them with people.   And I suspect that there are more people out there who want to see them than we realize, but they simply aren’t being served, for one reason or another.  So where to go to remove that barrier of permission?  Permission of budget.  Permission of distribution.  Permission of needing to put Matthew McConaughey in your movie and having him play a straight character in a gay story.

The internet.

I’d watched a couple web series a few years back.  They were poorly lit, had terrible sound, lousy production value…  And the actors were usually improvising.  Most actors think they’re good at improvisation.  Most actors are wrong. 

But I dove in and I created a series called “Wallflowers,” which is about the lives and loves of a Manhattan support group for people who can’t get dates or sustain relationships.  Some of the characters are straight, some are gay.  All of them have problems that are relatable to anyone who wants to figure out how not to be alone. 

So far, I’ve produced two seasons of the show.  And it seems to have hit a nerve with audiences who want to see their lives reflected, no matter what their sexual identity.  And as gratifying as I find that to be, the ability to take one of my main characters, a gay man, and tell his stories the way I haven’t ever seen an LGBT story told before, through time and care and depth and exploration, and to hear that others want to see that, too, has been one of the most creatively satisfying things I’ve ever had the privilege of doing.  And I get to do that because…the internet.

After the completion of our second season, I wanted to really take a look and see what else was happening in terms of LGBT web series and if others were making opportunities for themselves to tell these kinds of stories.

I discovered so much wonderful work being done by and for our community.  Rich characters, beautifully acted, written and produced, with budgets that wouldn’t fund the purchase of a used car but looked like actual film and television.  These were stories being told by exciting, talented LGBT filmmakers who had something to say and wanted nothing more than to say it to those who were eager to listen. 

And the best thing about it is we can listen.  Any time we want.  Without that barrier of permission. 

So I decided to gather the best of these shows together and put them into a program/panel called “In With the New Out,” and take them around to LGBT Film Festivals.  

We hit some resistance.  Programmers turn their noses up at web series and don’t consider it real filmmaking.  But I was thrilled that Kathleen Mullen at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, when presented with the idea, saw that web series are really just another facet of filmmaking.  She eagerly welcomed the idea and the panel, and even introduced me to a locally produced series (Capitol Hill) she thought might be a good fit to the program.

All of us who make these series, we’re filmmakers.  LGBT filmmakers.  We want to tell our stories and get our work out there any way we can.  We’re simply adapting.  As is the SLGFF.  They recognize that getting to see ourselves and our stories reflected in the moving image is the most important thing, no matter what form it presents itself.  (And honestly, these shows are so well produced that they look amazing on a big screen.)

So I hope you’ll come join me, my four other filmmaker colleagues and see our shows and hear our stories and support gay themed film.  In all its formats.

-Kieran Turner

POSTED ON Oct 11, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Colorful, magical, dark, and funny: Making BROKEN GARDENIAS

Exclusive peek behind the lens from director Kai Alexander! BROKEN GARDENIAS plays Monday, Oct. 13 at 7:15pm.

When I first read the script to BROKEN GARDENIAS I was immediately drawn into a colorful and magical world that was dark and funny. I was also moved beyond my expectations and felt a deep emotional connection with the ‘underdog’ character Jenni. I genuinely related to her on a very personal level, but how could it be? Jenni and myself are different genders. Upon introspection I realized that it doesn’t matter, because what the writer, Alma S Grey had written, transcended gender and much more. 

I turned myself immediately to my knowledge of myth, symbolism and magic. A world seeded in me by my older sister who turned me on to mythology at a very young age. A world of gods and goddesses. A world where the characters are bigger than life itself, but in this case (especially Jenni’s) they just don’t know it yet.

I feel deeply that what the world needs now, more than anything, is more heroes for women. In the world of gods and goddesses, of myth and polytheistic tales we find strength and unimaginable power that consistently transcends gender and physical stature. With a humble shooting budget of 10k this is what I focused on finding in Jenni and Sam. With this kind of budget it all comes back to basics, especially light. We had no lighting, except for interiors, so I was always seeking to find how natural light, especially backlighting, could be used to help me convey the symbolic power of the characters. Of course also how the careful use of framing could support or detract power away from the characters as well. 

A Gardenia is a sensitive flower and one that requires the right environment to blossom and give forth its beauty. Jenni is born into a rigid and polarized world where her conditions to bloom are nil. Then enters Sam who inspires a series of events that begin to transform Jenni’s world. This film is their journey about how life can be magical with just a little help from our friends.

-Kai Alexander 

POSTED ON Oct 9, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Our iPhone App is Back!

Our iPhone app is back...and just in time for you to #queeritup at Opening Night!

Follow this link to download it, or search for "filmfest seattle lesbian & gay film festival" in the App Store.

Big props to Dan Zeitman and crew for cobbling this together for us. We couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

Star Power at #SLGFF19

What makes the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival unique isn't just the movies...it's the PEOPLE! Our enthusiastic members, audiences, and GUESTS are what make every screening special. 

We have so many filmmakers, actors, and luminaries coming, it's hard to know where to start. But here's a few guests you'll definitely want to be in the room with:

-JUST ANNOUNCED! Dr. Grace Dammann, a revered physician who was honored by the Dalai Lama for her extraordinary work with AIDS patients during the height of the epidemic, will now be attending the screening of STATES OF GRACE on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 12:30pm.

-Alec Mapa, "America's Gaysian Sweetheart", will be in attendance for ALEC MAPA: BABY DADDY at a special THRIVE @ 5 screening at Northwest Film Forum on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 5pm. 

-Matthew Lillard (actor, THE DESCENDENTS, SCOOBY DOO, SCREAM; director, FAT KID RULES THE WORLD) will be in attendance for MATCH

EXTRA BONUS! DJ Brian Maier will be spinning fun tunes at the after party of MATCH. 

You can see all the great screenings, parties, and events coming your way at the 19th annual Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival here

POSTED ON Oct 8, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Becoming a creative voice for change: the story of LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

Thank you Thomas G. Miller for this very special making-of preview of LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, which plays Saturday, Oct. 11 at 12:30pm.

In 2001, I began working on LIMITED PARTNERSHIP in Los Angeles with my Co-Producer and Cinematographer S. Leo Chiang. As gay citizens we felt we had to use our creative voice to fight for immigration and marriage equality. Leo had emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan and we both had first-hand knowledge of the ways our government discriminated against same-sex couples at the border. Initially, we began following five binational same-sex couples, with Richard Adams and Tony Sullivan being one of the couples. 

Richard and Tony had by far the most complex and controversial story. Their legal marriage in Boulder, CO in 1975, and subsequent ruling against them by Judge Anthony Kennedy (before he became a Supreme Court justice), forced them to leave the country in 1985. They slipped back into the US illegally in 1986, and have remained in hiding from the immigration service ever since. This limited their participation in the film as they could not be shot at public events and so my intent was to use their story in an historical context and as the spine of the film. They were aware of the risks to their anonymity and safety, but agreed to be in the film in this reduced capacity.

We shot several interviews and a few scenes with Richard and Tony, who had been together almost 30 years at that point. This included time spent with Richard’s family as they celebrated Tony’s 60th birthday in 2002. As a gay American, it was so heartwarming and life affirming for me to see such love and acceptance in a multi-cultural, religious, extended family covering three generations. It gave me hope for my future and furthered my resolve to make this film. 

I was very moved by Tony and Richard’s love and commitment to the cause, but I became depressed because the conservative Bush administration had taken over control of the country. Any chance for change in same-sex marriage and immigration laws had become non-existent. During this time period, Leo moved to San Francisco and I became an adjunct professor of film at USC. I also was unable to procure any outside funding for the film despite being a finalist on every grant I had applied for. So I put the movie away for several years in hopes of a brighter future, and worked as an editor, producer and director on other feature documentary films. 

By early 2008, Massachusetts had legalized gay marriage and several foreign countries allowed gay binational couples to live together legally. The Bush Administration was nearing its end and California was about to legalize gay marriage. Encouraged by the changing political landscape, I began speaking with Producer Kirk Marcolina, who is in a binational relationship and legally married to an Australian man, about reviving the documentary. We contacted Richard and Tony who agreed to expand their role in the film. 

I have shot many scenes with Richard and Tony over the ensuing years as the American landscape regarding marriage equality and immigration policies changed. One of the most compelling moments was filming them watching the 2008 election when Obama was elected president and Prop 8 was passed. Exasperated by watching gay marriage rights in California being taken away, Richard and Tony vowed to become activists once again. A few months later, after living underground for over twenty years, I witnessed them “coming out of the immigration closet” and risking deportation, while addressing a huge crowd at a marriage equality rally in downtown Los Angeles. They believed it was important to stand up for their rights and to finally be recognized as a legal, married, same-sex couple in America. I was struck by how courageous the two of them were, willing to do anything for years on end, just for the right to be together. It was this energy and passion that kept inspiring us to continue making the film.

Toward the middle of 2012 we had completed a rough cut of the film and I thought we were almost done shooting. There was a lot of positive momentum in the country as President Obama and several states began supporting same-sex marriage and immigration reform. 

Then things changed dramatically. In November, Richard was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was given 4 1/2 months to live. Simultaneously, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear a case on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). If DOMA were to be ruled unconstitutional, then legally married same-sex couples would be granted the same federal marriage rights as heterosexual couples, including immigration rights. 

A few days after this announcement we shot a scene with Richard, Tony and Lavi Soloway, their immigration lawyer discussing ways to protect Tony if Richard should die. At the end of this shoot I asked permission to do a short interview with the two of them. 

During that interview I asked them several difficult questions about their life together and about what the future might hold. When they talked about their feelings for one another and having no regrets for taking on the government for 40 years, their love for one another was palpable. Richard passed away that night. I couldn’t believe how cruel it all seemed to me, just when it appeared that things might finally work out for the two of them. 

The following day I went over to their apartment to see Tony. He came up to me, hugged me and thanked me for asking those tough interview questions the day before. He told me it keyed him into just how sick Richard was, and it opened a dialogue between the two of them where they expressed to each other everything they needed to say. This enabled both of them to be at peace when Richard passed away. 

This reinforced the power of documentary filmmaking to me on many levels and made these past 13 years entirely worth the ride. On a personal level I have grown in many ways. Making this film has given me more confidence in myself as a filmmaker and as a gay man. I can see that a few individuals like Richard and Tony can create social change, even if it takes decades to accomplish, and I want to be one of those people. The journey is frustrating, depressing, exhilarating, expensive, exhausting and I couldn’t be happier that I have gone through it with Richard and Tony and my crew. 

I am extremely happy that LIMITED PARTNERSHIP will celebrate Richard and Tony’s long path towards justice and citizenship as they challenged the traditional definitions of “spouse” and “family.” Everyone will witness that they won the battle, as the government was never able to separate them, no matter how hard they tried. It is my hope that their journey as pioneers in marriage and immigration equality will now become part of the national conversation that will finally lead to full marriage equality in every state in this country.

-THOMAS G. MILLER

POSTED ON Oct 5, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Alaska Airlines Loves #Indiefilm - Discount Airfares to Palm Springs Film Festival

 

 

 

 

 

As part of their support of Three Dollar Bill Cinema and the 19th Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Alaska Airlines is pleased to provide discounted travel for indie film lovers to the Palm Springs Film Festival in Palm Springs, CA. 

Fly Alaska Airlines to Palm Springs and save 10% on flights from any Alaska Airlines city (excluding Mexico and Prudhoe Bay)! Simply click here and travel between January 5, 2015 and January 13, 2015. Book by January 12, 2015. The discount is automatically applied. 

Or enter ECMV695 in the discount code box at alaskaair.com. Restrictions apply. See site for additional details.

POSTED ON Oct 2, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Getting behind the “Killer Lesbians” headline with OUT IN THE NIGHT

This post was contributed by director Blair Dorosh-Walther, who will be present, along with producer Giovanna Chesler, at the OUT IN THE NIGHT Seattle Premiere on Saturday, October 11 at 12:30pm at the Egyptian. 

Immediately following the arrest of seven young African American women on August 18th, 2006, I became interested in their case. I read the many salacious headlines like “Attack of the Killer Lesbians,” “Gal Gang,” “I’m a man, lesbian growled” and on and on. However, it was the first of many New York Times articles that really gave me pause. The headline read: “Man is stabbed after admiring a stranger.” An admirer?? I really could not believe it. A man does not ‘admire’ teenage girls on the street at midnight. That is harassment. And I have never met a woman who hasn’t been harassed on the street at some point in her life, never mind in New York City where it is commonplace. This story would have unfolded differently had the women and gender non-conforming youth involved been white. Race and class, as well as gender and sexuality, were and remain critical issues in this case.
 
For the next two years I worked as a part-time activist around this case, originally feeling that a white director should not tell this story. Two years later, however, as their appeals were approaching, I could not stop thinking about this story. I wrote to each of the women in prison and asked if I could come visit them and discuss the possibility of a documentary. I spoke with their family members to see if they were also interested, as well as their attorneys. We discussed what a documentary entails and sort of interviewed each other to make sure everyone was comfortable moving forward.
 
Way too often in the mainstream, LGBT rights are spoken about through ‘marriage equality.’ Gender identity blends with ‘sexuality’ as if they are one in the same. But the NJ4’s gender identities played a role in this story, particularly in the way they were represented in the media.

So as we move beyond marriage equality as the central LGBT issue, their experiences reveal so many more that need to be addressed: Feeling safe on the street. In any town, in any city. The right to defend yourself without fear of imprisonment. Trust in calling the police when you are threatened. And representations of spectrums of gender that aren’t neatly “male” or “female.”
 
My approach to filmmaking is both political and practical. I very much identify as an Anarchist. Oddly, the act of making an independent film feels like the truest way for me to live that out in my career. When it works correctly, filmmaking is about a small, passionate and dedicated group of people governing equally. We work equally in our specific roles for a common and shared vision. I love that part of filmmaking. I’m sure many people wouldn’t necessarily agree with me, but for me it is the lens through which I see and feel the process. As a developing artist, I originally found my creative voice in the abstraction of painting and sculpture. But I did not continue in fine arts because of that very abstraction. I want access to meaning and justice to be more transparent. In my ‘other’ life, in social services and activism, I’ve paid attention to those things. So, filmmaking - visual storytelling - merges these two parts of me in a way that feels whole.


blair dorosh-walther
www.OutInTheNight.com
 

POSTED ON Sep 30, 2014 BY Three Dollar Bill Cinema

States of Grace: A labor of love

Thank you to the filmmaking team behind STATES OF GRACE for this behind-the-scenes story. STATES OF GRACE plays Saturday, October 11.

States of Grace is a labor of love that emerged from a desire to witness and document a friend’s remarkable journey following a tragic, life-altering event. Dr. Grace Dammann, the primary subject of the film, is a dear, longtime friend. Our daughters, now young women, had been buddies as toddlers, and we maintained a close friendship during the years that followed. 

We received the devastating news that Grace had been in a head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge while we were traveling overseas in May 2008. We returned home to the frenzy and panic at the trauma hospital, where Grace’s large circle of friends and family kept vigil. Would Grace live? If she survived, would she have any brain function? What would her quality of life be like? How would she, along with her family and community, face the daunting unknowns that lay ahead? These questions consumed us all for the many weeks she was in a coma. We waited and fretted while the doctors performed surgery after surgery attempting to mend her shattered body. 

The idea of making a film about Grace didn’t surface until after she regained consciousness, nearly seven weeks after the accident. To everyone’s shock, Grace awoke on the Fourth of July singing “You Are My Sunshine” and asking philosophical questions, indicating that her mental faculties were miraculously intact. Coincidentally, we had taken her daughter, Sabrina, to the Marin County Fair that day. As we walked around the dusty fairgrounds, Sabrina—who had been in the car with Grace and survived the accident with only minor injuries—brought up the idea of making a movie about her mom. At that time, the trauma of the accident was still too painful and Grace’s future still too uncertain for us to seriously contemplate filming. But as the weeks and months unfolded,
Grace’s recovery and spirit continually amazed and inspired us. We began to think that Sabrina’s idea held real promise. As seasoned producers of social issue and educational documentaries, we were ready to dig into a more artistic project and eager to create a verité film that followed a deeply personal story over time. Mark was also itching to move out of the editing room and pick up his camera again, getting back to his love of cinematography. 

In 2009, near the end of thirteen months in residential rehabilitation hospitals, Grace was released for an afternoon to celebrate Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday at a nearby Chinese restaurant. We videotaped the party as a trial run and were completely captivated by the experience; in our bones, we knew her homecoming and recovery would be a remarkable journey to follow. When Grace left the hospital for good a week later, we were there with our camera to start shooting in earnest, never imagining this film would become such a passionate, consuming project for us for the next five years.

Right from the start we wanted the filmmaking to be as unobtrusive and observational as possible, so the two of us comprised the entire production crew. We had a unique opportunity to capture the experience in an extremely personal and intimate way, given our history and closeness with Grace, Fu, and Sabrina. All three of them gave us uncensored access to their lives, and we showed up as often as possible to bear witness to their unfolding new reality. 

Helen conducted the many interviews with the family, as well as Grace’s friends, doctors, and therapists—sometimes using formal interview setups, sometimes organically as scenes unfolded. Mark, who managed both camera and sound, frequently shot on his own, showing up at countless doctor’s appointments and physical therapy sessions—as well as sleeping on the living room couch in order to capture the family routine through the night or to document five a.m. trips to the hospital for Grace’s surgeries. To film during times when we weren’t around, we gave Fu a small digital camcorder; two of the more poignant scenes in the film come from her footage.

While we set out to focus on Grace’s recovery, Fu proved to be a compelling character in her own right. It wasn’t until we were well into the editing process that we came to understand how much this was a story about the entire family—and especially the complex roles and relationship between Fu and Grace as caregiver and care receiver. 

Though it was difficult at times to straddle the line between filmmaker and friend, there was a kind of magic in the intensity, intimacy, and emotion of the experience for all of us—and our friendships deepened through the process. For Grace, the filmmaking became a way to process her own feelings and experiences as she was going through them. For us, it was both a privilege and an emotional challenge to witness her arduous healing and rehabilitation process; her struggle to come to terms with her profound limitations and dependency; and her determination to make meaning out of her radically altered life and identity. We were often astonished at Grace’s resilience in the face of great struggle, and it was heartbreaking to share in the profound loss she had to endure.

Grace hoped that something positive could come out of the accident, and she sees the film as a way to contribute something to the world—just one more piece in her long legacy of being of service to others as a physician and a Buddhist. We share that aspiration, believing that her story and the many lessons embedded within it will have a profound effect on audiences and will prove to be a far-reaching educational resource.

--Mark Lipman & Helen S. Cohen

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