Logline: In 2013, Rev. Frank Schaefer was put on trial in the United Methodist Church for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding. The Schaefer family was pulled into a movement for LGBTQ equality in the U.S’s second largest protestant denomination. An Act of Love follows Rev. Schaefer’s journey from small-town minister to outspoken advocate.
Length: 86 minutes
Director: Scott Sheppard
Producer: Kate S. Logan, Scott Sheppard
About the director and producer: Scott Sheppard is a documentary director, producer, and editor. His directorial debut Planes, Trains & Autorickshaws chronicles his family’s history of missionary work in India. Kate S. Logan's directorial debut, Kidnapped For Christ won the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival and is currently airing on Showtime.
Looking for: sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists
Funders or production company: Autorickshaw Pictures, Look Closer Media
Made in association with: Chhibber Mann Productions, Civitas Public Affairs Group
Where can I watch it @Bentonville FF? Cinetransformer Mockingbird, Wed May 4th, 8:30pm
Why did you make AN ACT OF LOVE?
I grew up the son of a United Methodist pastor in Michigan. I attended church every Sunday and was very involved, but I never heard homosexuality being discussed. Many churches are afraid to touch the topic because it’s divisive. Our goal is to spark dialogue around LGBTQ issues, especially in the Christian community.
What does AN ACT OF LOVE mean?
Rev. Frank Schaefer has said that when he officiated his son Tim’s wedding, it was not an act of defiance against the United Methodist Church, it was an act of love for his son. It’s a beautiful sentiment and 100% true.
How is an ACT OF LOVE both a personal and a universal story for you?
Although the film focuses on the UMC, the themes of love, family, and inclusion are universal. It’s a macro and micro look at the Church, and how one father stood up for his LGBTQ children even though it meant breaking the rules and risking his career.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The positive responses from audiences have been overwhelming. We’ve won audience awards at film festivals and played 100 community screenings. At screenings, people cry, laugh, and yell at the screen, but by the end they’re cheering. It’s an uplifting story full of hope and love. It touches people who are religious, non-religious, LGBTQ, and straight. Everyone seems to relate to the characters and story in their own unique way.
We had a woman attend a community screening in Pennsylvania who stood up afterward and shared her story. Her son had just come out as gay and he was engaged to a man. This woman was struggling to accept her son and reconcile it with her Christian faith. She said viewing the film helped her in this struggle.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
We’re working with Tugg for semi-theatrical screenings in community venues. 100 communities have already hosted screenings followed by discussions in churches, college campuses, theaters, and other community venues-- but we want to reach even more people. If you’d like to host a screening in your community, visit www.anactoflovefilm.com for information.
We’re also currently seeking other forms of distribution, including broadcast, DVD, and VOD.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We’re seeking sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, and journalists. Thousands of people have already seen the film, but we want to keep growing our audience by sharing this powerful story.
What type of impact would you like this film to have?
The United Methodist Church has its international General Conference in Portland May 10-20. It’s an event that happens every four years. Delegates from around the world meet to vote on changes to Church law. Every four years activists try to make the UMC more inclusive of the LGBTQ community and every four years they fail. We sent screeners of An Act of Love to delegates. I told them I’m not telling anyone how to vote, I just want them to watch the film with an open mind. The film shows up close how anti-gay laws have an impact on our queer friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers.
What’s a key question that will help to spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Does the Christian community have to be at odds with the LGBTQ community or can they learn to accept one another? There are many queer Christians around the world. But there’s a perception in America that LGBTQ rights infringe on religious liberty. It’s sad to see the pushback after marriage equality passed.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Visit www.anactoflovefilm.com to see if the film is playing in your community. If it’s not, host a screening!