The Times Of Harvey Milk

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(out of 5)

Stultifying documentary about the assassination of two politicians and the subsequent joke of a murder trial that followed. Harvey Milk was a San Francisco councilman on the city’s board of supervisors who was also the first openly gay politician in that position or any of prominence in the country. In November of 1978, he and Mayor George Moscone were killed by fellow supervisor Dan White for reasons linked to his own mental health as well as his frustrations with his political career. The light manslaughter sentence that was handed to White in the trial that followed had the San Francisco gay community see red, with justifiable protests against a system that took the crime far too lightly.  Rob Epstein’s superb film goes through Milk’s career, from his early days of campaigning for the rights of the city’s gay community until his very last, revealing his hard work to get recognition for gays and lesbians by the government during a time of immense conservative oppression (Anita Bryant and bills to ban gay teachers among the issues at the time). Heartbreaking and informative, Epstein would only ever equal it with his powerful Common Threads five years later.

USA, 1984

Directed by Rob Epstein

Narration by Judith Coburn, Carter Wilson

Cinematography by Frances Reid

Film Festivals:  Sundance 1985

Academy Award
Best Documentary (Feature) (Robert Epstein, Richard Schmiechen, producers)

New York Film Critics Award
Best Documentary

Sundance Film Festival Award
Special Jury Prize, Documentary

Boston Film Critics Award
Best Documentary

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