The Laramie Project
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the laramie project Adapted from the stage play, this material is probably much better suited to cinema. It's taken from the verbatim responses of the residents of Laramie, Wyoming, in the months following Matthew Shepard's violent death in 1998. In the film this is pieced together like a documentary, with big-name actors playing the real people involved. And the result is a powerfully moving examination of American culture, specifically the issue of homophobia.

We follow Kaufman (Carbonell) and his Tectonic Theater colleagues as they interview the residents, all of whom are in shock at what has happened in their idyllic town. They continually insist that these aren't the kinds of children Laramie raises, but the evidence is clear: Two young men who grew up in the town kidnapped, tortured and killed Shepard simply because he was gay. As these people face up to their very deep-seated prejudices and reactions, the film really gets under the skin and reveals some important lessons.

It's beautifully filmed and edited, with a kind of soothing background score like one of those made-for-TV documentary exposes. This and the fact (stated at the beginning) that it's all taken from actual transcripts makes the film provocatively compelling. We trace the entire series of events through the eyes of the witnesses, from the bartender (Jackson) to the police chief (Madigan) to the doctor (Fonda) and finally into the courtroom by way of the world's media. The performances are raw and extremely open; only a few seem a bit too self-aware to be believable. And the filmmakers wisely allow all points of view to be voiced. Regardless of your personal opinion on these issues, you will hear yourself up there, and how your thoughts fit in with the reality of the situation. This is very strong stuff that deserves to get a wide audience--much further than HBO in the States and the film festival circuit elsewhere.

no cert themes, language 20.Mar.03 llgff

dir Moises Kaufman
scr Moises Kaufman, Tectonic Theater
with Clea DuVall, Nestor Carbonell, Christina Ricci, Amy Madigan, Joshua Jackson, Jeremy Davies, Dylan Baker, Steve Buscemi, Frances Sternhagen, Janeane Garofalo, Peter Fonda, Mark Weber, Ben Foster, Laura Linney, Terry Kinney, Summer Phoenix
release US Jan.02 Sundance; UK Apr.03 llgff
02/US 1h37

Q&A. Writer-director Kaufman (Carbonell) interviews the townsfolk, including the shopkeeper's lesbian daughter (Ricci)...

jackson duvall davies
linney buscemi garofalo
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall