Wednesday, October 02, 2013

MVFF: Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine

I saw a preview screening of the documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, which premieres simultaneously at the Mill Valley Film Festival & the Washington National Cathedral on October 4th. The filmmaker Michele Josue was a classmate of Matthew Shepard at a Swiss boarding school that Mr. Shepard attended while his parents were living in Saudi Arabia. This new documentary tells his story through family photos, home videos, news footage & present-day interviews with parents, friends, teachers & classmates. Ms. Josue narrates & appears on camera, interacting with interviewees & visiting important locations, such as the field where Mr. Shepard was found nearly dead in October 1998.

The film is told from a largely straight & Christian viewpoint & is necessarily weepy & earnest. Footage of Judy Shepard crying at her son's funeral is ironically accompanied by her own commentary on the media's exploitation of her grief. I was left with a lot of questions & was puzzled that so many interviewees thought it was a good idea for Mr. Shepard to return to Wyoming, even though his family was still in Saudi Arabia, & he was already well-traveled & apparently venturesome. I overheard 2 attendees say the film should be shown to high school students.

Director Michele Josue & Producer Liam McNiff are scheduled to attend the festival.

§ Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine
Director: Michele Josue
USA, 2013, 89 mins.

§ Mill Valley Film Festival 36
Sequoia 1, Fri, Oct 4 6:30 PM

Rafael 3, Sun, Oct 6 8:30 PM

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