Screened Out – FFF’s An Act of Love

By : Stephen Miller
Comments: 0

While celebrating their 25th year, the Florida Film Festival is also celebrating the LGBTQ community. In their quarter of a century, the festival has always added diversity and inclusiveness to the act. Everything starts Fri. Feature lengths kick off Sat., Apr. 9. Here are a couple LGBTQ-focussed films.

Reverend Frank Shaefer saw officiating his son's gay wedding as upholding his love for his family.

Reverend Frank Shaefer saw officiating his son’s gay wedding as upholding his love for his family.

An Act of Love
Documentary Feature
9:30–11PM at Enzian Theater, Maitland
Inclusiveness is something the Christian community has wrestled with for centuries. It still struggles now. Particularly toward the LGBTQ community, Christian organizations agonize. They wish to maintain their moral and ethical directives while welcoming and valuing everyone as equals.

Reverend Frank Schaefer – a Methodist minister in a small Pennsylvania community – challenged his church’s doctrines. He officiated his son’s gay wedding in 2000. However, at first, nothing happened.

Then, a whole six years later, disgruntled congregation members wanted to defrock him. By then, there were also other complaints. One congregant felt the minister ignored his mother’s needs. Others felt Shaefer shunned his regular duties and morning services to concentrate on a contemporary worship that he also started.

“He wanted to be a rock star,” says one church member over and over.

Shaefer does seem fairly comfortable with the attention. He strums his acoustic guitar, and he handles interviews well. This “trial” gave him and the LGBTQ cause plenty of attention.

Maybe it’s not the best move of his enemies, just scant days before the statute of limitations runs out, to bring charges. Congregation members wanted the church to punish Shaefer for disobeying church doctrines. Shaefer did it based on love and acceptance for his son.

This film presents that history, framing Shaefer as a hero and a leader, a man committed to his family. The filmmakers edit the documentary to build a good sense of tension. They also let Shaefer do most of the talking.

By the trial, Shafer and his family realized how much they have at stake in LGBTQ equality.

For people who are interested in how faith and equality play together, the documentary offers a fascinating view. The church “trial” alone could easily remind us of Puritan hearings of the 1600s and 1700s, with a bit of Christian love as leavening.

Blair Hanner and her mother Susan navigate their changing relationship.

Blair Hanner and her mother Susan navigate their changing relationship.

Becoming Blair, a short documentary, is playing before An Act of Love.

Blair Hanner was born a genetic female. This rural Texan knew that was wrong. When introduced to testosterone therapy at 19, Blair comes out to his family – a Christian mother who is still struggling, and a father who once had a rock-solid relationship with his child.

When writing about film festival film, a critic is supposed to stay pretty neutral about these films since judges can send some of these flicks to the Oscars.

Yet, as a person who wants to encourage dialogue about film, I need to say something. When you watch this short documentary, note the mother’s real pain and struggle. As you watch Becoming Blair, pay attention to how shots are framed. Those final shots are devastating.

Also playing Thu., Apr. 14, 7–8:55PM at Regal Cinemas, Winter Park

Share this story: