With over 65 screenings to choose from, the Reeling Film Festival is not only a celebration of international queer art but an accruing checklist of must-sees for movie lovers. Add this documentary to your lineup: This is What Love in Action Looks Like. Morgan Jon Fox’s remarkable work screened at Reeling on Tuesday, November 8th. The profoundly compelling journey of 16-year-old Zach demanded six years of devotion to produce, and the director did not consciously set out to create such a film in the first place. Morgan Jon Fox’s dedication to the story was ignited by the compassion he felt in response to learning of Zach’s admission into a fundamentalist Christian conversion camp against his will. In 2005, the dawn of online social networking created the foundation for Zach’s story to become a viral movement when he shared the experience of being sent to the camp in his MySpace blog. His entries were read, shared, and expanded upon by thousands, including Fox, which sparked a local protest in Zach’s hometown of Memphis, TN. The documentary illustrates how countless teenagers, activists, and former clients of the conversion camp united to support Zach.
Following Tuesday night’s screening at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, the young director, known for OMG/HaHaHa, Away (A)wake and Blue Citrus Hearts, fielded questions about this unplanned phenomenon. Timing provided the momentum for the local outcry to become National news. According to Morgan Jon Fox the 16-year-old’s admission into Love in Action, the ex-gay organization founded in 1973, occurred when several key individuals involved in the protest were experiencing a temporary break from typical daily demands and jobs. As summer unfolded and the news spread, numerous volunteers emerged to spend endless unpaid hours contacting local and national media outlets in addition to forming an online movement to pressure change into reality. Fox’s easy and unassuming demeanor belies the degree of passionate commitment required in taking a stand against the ex-gay movement’s ugliest practices: targeting vulnerable youth. Moved most by the choice of Zach’s community to become involved, I felt inspired to witness the exceptional beauty of ordinary people transforming injustice into equality.
Reeling isn’t over yet either. Check out the additional screenings at here and visit http:///tlagay.com to take This is What Love in Action Looks Like home. As a teacher, I considered the film to be easily transferable to the classroom because it does not contain explicit images or language while addressing complex social justice issues as they occur in the digital age. Most importantly, the story captures how very young people can manifest change with the guidance and support of community leaders, which is an example that can be extremely difficult to find.