WORD IS OUT
(director: Andrew Brown/Nancy Adair/Rob Epstein/Lucy Massie Phenix/Veronica Selver; cinematographers: Andrew Brown/Nancy Adair/Rob Epstein/Lucy Massie Phenix/Veronica Selver; editors: Andrew Brown/Nancy Adair/Rob Epstein/Lucy Massie Phenix/Veronica Selver; music: Trish Nugent; cast: Nadine Armijo, Pat Bond, John Burnside, Dennis Chiu, Nathaniel Dorsky, Cynthia Gair, Sally Gearhart, Elsa Gidlow, David Gillon, Freddy Gray, Donald Hackett, Roger Harkenrider, Harry Hay, Pam Jackson, Linda Marco, Tede Mathews, Rusty Millington, Michael Mintz, Trish Nugent, Mark Pinney, Betty Powell, Ann Samsell, Rick Stokes, George Mendenhall, Whitey ; Runtime: 133; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Peter Adair/Andrew Brown/Nancy Adair/Rob Epstein//Lucy Massie Phenix/Veronica Selver; Milestone Films; 1977)
“Sometimes it’s moving.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This landmark documentary from 1977, restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in 2008, was the first feature documentary about lesbians and gays that was made by gay filmmakers (Andrew Brown/Nancy Adair/Rob Epstein/Lucy Massie Phenix/Veronica Selver). The filmmakers were from the San Francisco-based Mariposa Film Group. The entire film consists of interviews with 26 gay American men and women (in what appears like their homes) of varied classes (from actors to WACs), varied ages (from 18 to 77) and varied ethnic origins. The group eloquently describe their experiences coming out and how they cope living in the straight world. Their testimonies are frankly and intelligently told, sometimes it’s amusing, sometimes it’s tragic, sometimes it’s moving, and sometimes it’s insightful.Whatever … the 133 minutes of talking heads gets our attention and holds it despite the length of the film. I think that’s so because those interviewed are so genuine and the filmmakers have no political or analytical agenda, it feels good just listening to sincere people passionately talk whose only purpose is for us to get to know something about them and what it means for them to be outsiders in American society.
It’s a gentle loving film that deserves to be rediscovered by another generation, as it’s surprisingly not dated and it would be wonderful if it could reach out beyond the choir so a mainstream American audience can get a chance to see how far we have to go to do the right thing and ensure that gays gain full acceptance in society.
REVIEWED ON 5/21/2010 GRADE: B+