Filmmaker Laura McFerrin knew she wanted to be part of the 2009 National Equality March on Washington, but she never dreamed she’d chronicle it in “March On!,” screening Sunday in Atlanta as part of Stonewall Week.
According to the director, an organizer of the march who knew she was planning to attend asked her to be the event historian and capture the essence of it, to have some sort of video record.
McFerrin (top photo) promptly put out a call for individuals and families planning to attend through the march’s website and via Facebook. In all, she wound up getting well more than 100 responses. “I had no idea we’d get that many,” she says.
In the end, McFerrin had to whittle down the subjects to five couples/families to be in the film: Ami and Ruby, a couple with a young daughter who decided to visit every state where same-sex marriage is legal and start a website AreWeMarried.com; Kerri and Erin, another of 18,000 California couples allowed to marry before Prop 8; Michael and Robert, who have been together for more than 30 years; Zoe, a lesbian activist since the ‘60s; and Omar, a five-year U.S. Navy veteran discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
McFerrin provided her subjects with cameras to record themselves in the days and weeks leading up to the event – and was curious what sparked each of them to take time off from work to make the trip and what they hoped to accomplish.
The results of their efforts became “March On!” (bottom photo) and are on view Sunday at the Rush Center during Stonewall Brunch & A Movie (view details) via the local LGBT film festival Out on Film in partnership with Atlanta Pride’s Stonewall slate. See the rest of Stonewall Weekend activities and Pride-ful nightlife, both official and unofficial.
McFerrin says that the earlier 2000 March on Washington – though well attended – was more of a party atmosphere than the 2009 event seen in “March On!”
“It was a big celebration, a lot of fun,” she says. “The one in 2009 was more grassroots and more political. I think people who went were motivated and wanted to go home immediately after and fight for their rights.”
For those who attended – including herself – McFerrin says the National Equality March was a life changer.
“Omar, for example, had been discharged from the Navy, and now he has become a leader in his community, organizing rallies,” she says. “It helped him find his way.”
The filmmaker has stayed in touch with all of the subjects from the film and jokingly says she would love to meet everyone else who attended the event and tell their own story. Among the approximately 250,000 people who attended the 2009 march were Lady Gaga, Cleve Jones and Cynthia Nixon, who are all featured in the film.
Find out more about “March On!” online, and check out the trailer here:
Jim Farmer is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and public relations professional specializing in film promotions. He has been a theater and pop-culture critic for more than a dozen years and is the director of Atlanta’s annual Out On Film gay and lesbian film festival.