“Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” looks back on a hate crime that shocked the nation

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When Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die on a lonely fence in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998, the brutality of the hate crime shocked the nation. It also brought to light for those outside of the LGBTQ community, some for the first time truly, the sort of violence that gays, lesbians, bisexual and trans people had faced and still face. Marches were organized, the flicker of candles lit up campuses across the country, and the term “hate crime” made its way into the lexicon of newspapers, magazines and media outlets. Matthew’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shephard, became the recognizable faces of unspeakable grief, and have tirelessly fought to educate and end hatred against the LGBTQ community for the last 15 years.

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Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine is the debut film by Michele Josue, a dear friend of the late Shepard. Still deeply affected by her friend’s death, the film is an intimate look at Matt’s life, his death and those he left behind. Interspersed with interviews with his parents, classmates and dear friends, are personal letters, notes and home video clips of Matt goofing off with his friends and family. A haunting reminder of the kind soul who was taken too soon. Throughout the film, you get the sense that Jouse is searching for clues, missing pieces that could have saved her friend. The film also follows the timeline of Matt’s hate crime, investigating with a true depth of humanity, what happened that terrible night.

Matthew Shephard’s death, along with the deaths of Brandon Teena, Britney Cosby, Crystal Jackson, Angie Zapata, Mark Carson and countless other souls, serves as a reminder that the world is not always a safe place for members of the LGBTQ community when hate is an acceptable currency. 

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine opens Friday, Feb 6th in select cities and across the country late this month, March and April. Here is a full list of screenings.

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