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directed by Charles Gage
USA 2012

"Yes on Prop 8" was some of the most intelligence-insulting, manipulative, and fear-based ad campaigns of the 2008 election cycle. INSPIRED reveals that there were many in the GLBT community – including those who considered themselves activists (and many more who did not) – who had also assumed the Proposition 8 movement didn’t have a chance, especially since 2000’s Proposition 22 – an amendment to the family code defining marriage as between members of the opposite sex – had just been struck down by the California Supreme Court in May of that year. Charles Gage's documentary INSPIRED may be informative to those whose sparse knowledge of what happened between the 2008 election and 2010 court ruling came from the mainstream news. Besides excerpts from the “Yes” and “No” commercials, INSPIRED makes use of much archival footage (from news stories to digital video of varying quality, aspect ratios, and frame orientations) to depict the Los Angeles GLBT community response in the days prior to the election. It was not until after the disappointing voting results that many of the participants – the titular “inspired” – mobilized: some simply out of anger, others out of a dissatisfied response to the performance of the official “No on 8” campaign whose commercials they felt failed to connect emotionally with the audience (as well as the reticence to go off-book for fear of the opposition twisting their words, as the ads famously did with a much-replayed sound-byte from San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom). Other criticisms that arose had to do with minority representation within the community (which proved to be more fractured than an outsider might assume), exacerbated by conservatives like Rachel Maddow and Bill O'Reilly shifting blame towards black voters for the proposition's passing. As the fight to repeal Proposition 8 builds, INSPIRED shows people from once-insulated communities (including Asian and Latino minorities, as well as children of gay parents) in casually "gay-friendly" areas finding their voices not only within the wider gay community - more than one interviewee associates the gay stereotype as a white male a la Harvey Milk - but within communities that encompass family, neighbors, businesses they patronize, political representatives, and so forth.

The documentary is not without problems. Some viewers may not be familiar with the event christened the "Day of Decision", and may lack a context for what the movement is building towards in the aftermath of the election (just as some passersby during the marches were haranguing the demonstrators with the fact that the election is over). Gage couches various marches within the time frame of a countdown to the "Day of Decision" (some of the earlier ones were likely mounted without the U.S. District Court ruling in mind); but then must jump back and forth in time in order to illustrate the participation of the interviewees. The climax of the film is Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, and Gage seems to want to depict this as a triumph - for the purposes of the film's narrative - even though the interviewees sound more cautiously optimistic (the Ninth District Court of Appeal's upholding of Walker's ruling in 2012 proves in a DVD supplement gets more ecstatic reactions and the director might have considered integrating it into the feature for a new cut of the film that is more up-to-date for people first seeing the documentary after the rulings and in anticipation of further appeals and hearings).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 4 December 2012 (USA)

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DVD Review: Garden Thieves Pictures - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Garden Thieves Pictures

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:28:36
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English (CC), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Garden Thieves Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Still INSPIRED (16:9; 5:46)
• INSPIRED in Mexico City (16:9; 11:09)
• Deleted Scenes:
• - Chris & Danny (16:9; 1:19)
• - Lt. Dan Choi recites Gibran Khali Gibran (16:9; 1:51)

DVD Release Date: December 4th, 2012
Amaray

Chapters 19

 

Comments

Other than the talking heads, the visuals of this documentary are of varying quality given the sources (news footage, digital cameras of various makes, cellphone video recordings); and this is not always such a defect (the harsh video noise of the boosted video gain of some of the cameras during the night shots of the various marches is actually atmospheric). The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio is also uneven apart from the talking heads (and the rare addition of underscore) but this can also be attributed to the quality of the sources but burnt-in English subtitles accompany both the Spanish audio as well as some bits where the spoken English isn’t so crisply recorded. English Closed Captioning is also available for the rest of the dialogue (although one would think that English and Spanish SDH subtitles would have been a nice addition to better reach members of its target audience including those who might be hard of hearing).

Extras include a brief follow-up featurette containing immediate reactions of a number of the participants to the 2012 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. In another featurette, director Charlie Gage documents the film’s Mexican premiere (Mexico City was the first city in the country to recognize gay marriage). Two deleted scenes are also included, the first of which gives some background to the relationship that developed between two of the interviewees (which is not so apparent in the film proper). The second deleted scene features Dan Choi – a soldier discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – reciting a poem by Khalil Gibran at a rally (Choi is only briefly featured in the final cut of the documentary).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Garden Thieves Pictures

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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