Inside Out 2014: Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine – Documentary Review

Director: Michele Josue
Country: USA
Year: 2013
Runtime: 88 min
Rating: R

A documentary film that tackles such a subject as the brutal hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard could depict horror or hope. Friend and filmmaker Michele Josue unites both in her debut film Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine (2013), created fifteen years after this young man was killed simply for being gay. The story is horrific, but the manner in which it is told focuses on Matt’s spirit and love of life as well as the tragedy of the events.

This film is narrated in a straightforward manner by Josue, whose words and tone are often heartrending and always sensitive. Interviews with family members, teachers, and friends, as well as personal photos, home videos, letters, and journal entries offer a glimpse into Matt’s life and allow the audience to get to know this figure we previously have only seen in news headlines. Josue uses very simple techniques, but her clear love for her friend and goal of illuminating his life and making a serious political statement shine through and render the film effective.

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine is a very personal documentary, created by an individual who may have not ever considered creating a film if she did not have such a story to tell. Josue’s work is sensitive and respectful, yet it never glosses over the horrific details of the case. This is a very moving film, and one can only hope that it will move its audience right to action.

Rating: 8 / 10

Screening Time: Saturday May 24, 1:30pm @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1