A Story of Inspiration

March 30, 2014, 12:10 AM   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers

josueandshepards.jpg

Matt Shepard has become a household name. In 1998, 21-year-old Shepard was brutally beaten and left for dead in Wyoming. His name is now linked to the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, commonly known as the “Matthew Shepard Act.”

“Matt is an iconic symbol of the LGBT community,” says director Michele Josue. Her feature film “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine” documents the life of Matthew Shepard and leaves the fame of his death in the past.

Josue attended boarding school with Shepard in Switzerland. He was a few years older than her, so Josue says she watched the story of his death “unfold from a distance.”

“I watched the media take over and strip Matt of his humanity,” Josue says. Over 15 years later, Josue crafted her film to generate interest in this charming man whose life was taken out of hatred.

“The desire to make this film has always been building inside of me,” Josue explains. “I wanted to wait until I was ready, members of his family were ready and we were able to talk about him in a vulnerable way.” She pauses and adds, “I wanted to be ready to do it.”

Even when she felt ready, the director maintained her fears and doubted herself often. The balance between emotional intensity of such a heavy, grief-ridden subject and having to complete an artistic endeavor, was not easy for Josue. But she was determined to tell her friend’s story.

“Matt’s story inspires people to be more compassionate,” says Josue. “It’s very easy to judge what you don’t know.” Shepard was like any other young person, he just happened to be gay. His story is universal because Josue says, “So many young people feel scared and different.”

“Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine” paints a beautiful portrait of a young man who was known for years as nothing but a symbol, and a symbol of the effects of hate nonetheless.

We can all learn something from Matt Shepard’s death but even more from his life. “Ignorance and hate are very much a part of our society,” says Josue. She adds hopefully, “Though times are changing.”

—Molly Drake

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.2 MB]

Related Screenings:
03/29/14 @ 5:00 PM – Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine
03/30/14 @ 2:15 PM – Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine

Download The Daily

Check out the latest festival highlights and goings on in the print edition of The Daily.

View Now

CIFF Tweets

20+ short HORROR films will screen at @TowerCityCinema on 10/28 as part of the @48HourCleveland! Show your support: http://t.co/Kzh3pfkIQU

about 16 hours ago   .   Reply   .   Retweet   .   Favorite

CIFF Facebook Posts

Join us on November 12th when we’ll be snacking on hors d’oeuvres and sipping on beverages at CITY LIGHTS! This event will take us to The Nightlight where we’ll be joined by some of the areas most beloved arts and community leaders. With this line-up of special guests, the conversation will be anything but run-of-the-mill. Full details here: http://bit.ly/1rev6Ur

about 16 hours ago   .   Link

CIFF on YouTube All Videos

Play

Between Two Films.

Play

CIFF 38 Daily Buzz Day 13 Wrap Up

Play

Meet the Filmmaker with Michele Josue, Judy & Dennis Shepard from "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine"

Become A CIFF Member >

Become A CIFF Member

We have five different levels of membership to choose from, so find the one that best fits your film appetite!

38th CIFF Award Winners >

38th CIFF Award Winners

Look through the complete list of award winners from the 38th CIFF!

Sign up for our email newsletter

go
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram
  • youtube
  • flickr
  • foursquare
  • iphone
  • android