A candid conversation with the film programmers at the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA).
By C.J. Hirschfield
When the feature documentary Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives was released in 1977, it rocked my world. I already loved documentaries, but this one–widely considered to be the first feature film about lesbian and gay identity–by gay people, quickly became a symbol of the emerging gay rights movement. I was living in glorious San Francisco at the time, where the film premiered at the Castro Theater. Directed by six people collectively known as the Mariposa Group, it took five years, and over two hundred interviews with gays, to complete the historic project.
As the war in Vietnam raged, one of the largest and most successful youth-led resistance movements in American history was growing at home.
Hundreds of thousands of young men opposed to an unjust war said NO to being drafted into the military, risking up to five years in federal prison. Their individual courage and collective nonviolent actions helped end a tragic war and the draft.
By Andrea Chase
If there is a turning point in The Boys Who Said No!, it’s when a judge, decidedly not a part of the counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s, rules that a Vietnam War draft resistor should not go to prison for breaking the law. It is also a turning point in the history of the United States, albeit one far less high profile than the unrest and assassinations that dominated that era. And that is fitting in Judith Ehrlich’s enlightening and absorbing documentary that profiles the eponymous young men who used non-violence in their refusal to fight what they considered an unjust war. Successfully as it turned out. It makes for a film that speaks to the present as eloquently and as urgently to its audience as the resistors did to their audiences 50 years ago.
BY C.J. Hirschfield
About my home town of Oakland, a recent Washington Post article wrote: “Protesters want to defund the police. Homicides and violence are spiking. In Oakland, ideology and practicality collide.”
It was a wonderful juxtaposition shortly thereafter to watch the excellent new documentary Alice Street, which shows Oakland at its multicultural, peaceful, protesting best.
By C.J. Hirschfield
I’ve got to believe that many people are turning to cannabis, wine, and the support of loving family members to get through our current pandemic. And to the extent that each of these supports have been grown organically, all the better.