by Erica Nowlin
The UCM College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and the department of communication hosted the fifth annual Show Me Justice Film Festival on Thursday, April 9 and Friday, April 10.
The festival presented films from international filmmakers that addressed various current social issues. This year’s entries featured topics such as same-sex marriage, gender roles, war, sexual assault, untested chemicals and economic inequality.
Over the course of this two-day event, 22 films were shown: 15 shorts and seven features. The festival’s feature films were shown Thursday and Friday evening accompanied by question-and-answer sessions with some of the films’ stars and directors.
“Living in the Overlap,” directed by Mary Dalton and Cindy Hill, tells the love story of Lennie Gerber and Pearl Berlin, a same-sex couple who have been together for more than 46 years. Lennie, an attorney for LGBT cases, and Pearl, a retired professor, have spent years fighting for marriage equality in the United States, predominately in North Carolina.
In the film, Lennie describes “living in the overlap” as two independently successful people loving and respecting one another, and that love is the overlap in their lives. It’s the story of two women, their lifetime of love for each other and their passion for their cause.
During the Q-and-A following the presentation of “Living in the Overlap,” co-director Cindy Hill answered some questions about the filmmaking process.
“The great struggle is to raise money for the film,” she said. “We ended up filming a lot of it ourselves. The whole process is physically and mentally draining.”
When asked how she ended up filming Lennie and Pearl’s story, Hill said she was always interested in stories about social justice.
“I want to tell bigger stories through individuals,” she said. “I want [my films] to mean something to someone.”
Hill strongly encouraged other young filmmakers to go out and tell their stories.
“There is no greater time for indie filmmakers with so many nontraditional forms of distribution,” she said. “This is a great time to be a filmmaker.”
“Conviction,” directed by Brenda Truelson Fox, rehashes the political statement of three Catholic nuns. In 2002, sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson broke into a Colorado missile silo to protest the stockpiling of nuclear weapons in the United States. All three women were charged with obstruction of national defense and destruction of government property.
Two of the three sisters, Platte and Gilbert, now in their 60s and 70s respectively, were present at the festival and answered questions from the audience. Sister Jackie Hudson died in 2011.
Gilbert reiterated their goal as anti-war peacemakers.
“We really do want to abolish nuclear weapons from the face of the earth,” she said. “We’ve made thousands of different statements, and in all my life, I will not regret an action for justice of peace.”
Platte thanked those involved with the film festival as a way to share their stories of injustice and promote change.
“I am standing up here with tears in my eyes,” she said. “I’m always so grateful for people working hard for a better world. I want us to become so united that we build this kingdom of God on earth. . . Let us live in peace.”
“Living in the Overlap” and “Conviction” are only two examples of the films shown at this year’s festival. Others included “Inside Story,” a documentary that gives audiences a personal look at the lives of inmates in a women’s prison, and “The Human Experiment,” a film produced and narrated by Sean Penn that reveals some facts about untested chemicals in everyday consumer products.
The sponsors of the Show Me Justice Film Festival presented four awards. “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution,” directed by Matthew Van Dyke, and “I’ve Just Had a Dream,” directed by Javi Navarro, both won the Audience Favorite Award for the short film program.
“Unafraid: Voices from the Crime Victims Treatment Center,” directed by Karin Venegas, and “Kids on Gender,” directed by Jasmin Pitt, each won the Jury Award for Excellence.
For more information about this year’s Show Me Justice Film Festival feature films and shorts, visit ShowMeJusticeFilmFestival.com.
PHOTO BY PAUL JOYNER / PHOTO EDITOR: A group of the filmmakers gathered at the opening reception for the Show Me Justice Film Festival at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The reception offered the filmmakers a chance to mingle with UCM students, staff, and Warrensburg locals. Pictured from left: Maria Sanders, director of “Jessica Walking”; Robin Truesdale, editor of “Conviction”; Sister Ardeth Platte, with “Conviction”; Sister Carol Gilbert, with “Conviction”; Cindy Hill, director of “Living in the Overlap”; Brenda Fox, director of “Conviction”; and Bahman Tavoosi, director of “A Dress Rehearsal for an Execution.”