Friday, July 8, 2011

Phil's recommendations for the National Film Registry: Part III: WORD IS OUT-July 8, 2011

Hello, and welcome to my series of film recommendations that I'm planning to submit to the National Film Registry. After viewing the amazing documentary THESE AMAZING SHADOWS a couple of months ago, I went to the Registry's website and noticed there were films that the Library of Congress should look into adding. As a result of this discovery, I decided to pick my own film recommendations that fulfills the criteria of the registry of being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," while at the same time choosing films that might have been overlooked due to oversight, or of ignorance of the film's impact on culture and society.

For my third recommendation, the film I chose is a documentary that was a first of its kind to tackle the subject of homosexuality. Made in 1977 by a local San Francisco outfit called the Mariposa Film Group, they reached out to the Gay Community to create a testament recorded onto celluloid that now stands one of the most important films in the GLBT genre. The documentary film is entitled WORD IS OUT and it is one of the most touching, informative, and enlightening films that I have ever seen.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1977)
The film interviews 26 gays and lesbians about their lives and the struggles they have all had to endure. It is divided up into three parts: the first part (or act) is hiding in the closet, which many in the film had been hiding in for most of their lives. The second part is their coming out experiences as well as their physical and emotional contact. The third part of the film focuses on their concerns and what the future holds for them as they are now exposed to the world. Through such raw and personal testimonials, we the audience feel as if we've known these people all our lives.

Released in 1977, ten years after the Stonewall Riots, and one year before the assassination of Harvey Milk and three years before the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, the film captures a moment not just in GLBT history, but history in general. It looked at that moment that things were about to change in the United States at that time. Things did change, but it would not be good. Throughout GLBT history, it was one set back after another. But eventually strides were being made, leading up to having Gay Marriages as a possibility in some states and becoming a reality in others. The film captures that the possibilities were numerous and limitless, and for those interviewed in the film, some achieved their dreams, and some unfortunately didn't live long enough to see the GLBT movement making massive changes in the world.

WORD IS OUT is one of the most important documentary films in the genre, along with THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK and BEFORE STONEWALL. It showcases the struggle of a minority group to come out without being judged by society. Now queer culture is part of pop culture as well as society. Everyday there are hundreds of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals coming out of the closet and revealing their true selves to the world. Back in 1977, this was not common, but thanks in large part to the film, many of those closeted came out, being inspired by the stories of those who saw themselves up on the silver screen. This is why WORD IS OUT deserves to by part of the National Film Registry.

WORD IS OUT is now available on DVD. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit the Mariposa website at 

To vote for the film to be chosen, visit the National Film Registry at 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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