Monday, October 20, 2014

Marta Cunningham, Valentine Road - Memphis, TN & Clinton, SC

From Filmmaker Marta Cunningham of Valentine Road:

Coming to the South with the festival put on by South Arts Southern Circuit has been exhilarating! Valentine Road is needed in the South, and I am lucky enough to have been asked Teresa Hollingsworth to accompany the film on the tour.

We started out in Memphis, where one man, so moved by the film, came up after the Q&A at and just gave me the biggest hug with tears in his eyes, and thanked me. He told me how hard it had been for him as a child, growing up gay in the South. He was hopeful for the future, but was conflicted about children coming out early without support, remembering his own horrible stories of violence. He agonized over the time he spent hiding, trying to fit in and wanting to be accepted. Towards to end of our conversation about his own turmoil, he realized that a life in the closet does not guarantee your safety. He now lives out and proud in Memphis. Truly poignant.

Before leaving Memphis, I of course had to try the much talked about Dry Ribs. I ended up closing down the famous Rendezvous and walked through downtown admiring the gorgeous architecture and prominent history. I could not help but think about being on the same street, less than a mile away from the Lorraine Motel and Memorial, where Martin Luther King was killed. I must come back another time to pay tribute. Memphis has not seen the last of me.

I hopped on a plane and quickly headed to another place I have never been to, Clinton, South Carolina. The minute I picked up my car and headed down the highway through Greenville, I knew I wanted to film there. What a gorgeous landscape!

The screening at the Presbyterian College screening blew me away. The professors engaged their students, some eager to come and others unsure due to the subject matter. Their professors asked them to confront their preconceived notions and come watch the film. It was a full room. The Q&A was inspired and could have gone for hours. A few of the professors wrote to me and said that their classes should be required to watch Valentine Road. These discussions with college students and young adults are the reason I made this film. They are excited for change and they are making it happen. It's wonderful. I definitely want to know more about South Carolina. It will have to be another time though. Off to Pompano Beach!