A Poignant Documentary: “Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine”

Capital Pride may have ended last weekend, but this Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, the Film Forum gives you a chance to catch the only Saratoga screening of the poignant documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, revisiting one of the most barbaric hate crimes in U.S. history.

On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally beaten, tied to a fence, tortured, and left to die—all because he was gay. Following the crime, Matt became a news headline, a political and cultural lightning rod, and a symbol. And yet in life he was none of those things. To those who knew him, he was a friend, son, and brother—an ordinary young man still in the process of becoming himself. Michele Josue was a friend of Matt’s. She’s now a filmmaker, and she revisits the case 17 years later, using never-before-seen photos, rare video footage, and new interviews to remember and celebrate Matt’s all-too-brief life through the vivid testimonies of those whose lives he touched—from friends and family, to the bartender who saw him on the night of the attack. Over the course of the film, new revelations emerge about the crime that took Matt’s life. The result is a searing, poignant, and multilayered biographical and sociological portrait, and hopefully a call to arms to keep all the other Matt Shepards in our lives from meeting a similar fate.

On Saturday, we present the final Spring Street Classic for the season, veering off from the traditional film noir fare with Steven Soderbergh’s 1998 romantic comedy/crime caper Out Of Sight. Based on the novel by the incomparable Elmore Leonard, George Clooney stars as an ex-con and prison escapee who ends up having a romantic fling with the federal marshal pursuing him, who happens to be played by Jennifer Lopez. Out of Sight was one of Clooney’s first mega-star-making vehicles.

The Film Forum will screen Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine at the Dee Sarno Theatre on Thursday, June 18, and Friday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8, $6 for students and Film Forum members. Out Of Sight will be screened at the Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring Street, on Saturday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m. Admission for the Spring Street Classic series is free, but attendance is limited to the first 30 people. For more information about the Film Forum, please visit www.saratogafilmforum.org.

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