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The Laramie Project (2002)

TV-14 | | Drama, Crime | TV Movie 9 March 2002
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The true story of an American town in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepard.

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(play), (screenplay) | 20 more credits »
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Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Andy Paris ...
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Greg Pierotti (as Grant James Varjas)
Kelli Simpkins ...
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Billie McBride ...
Bill Christ ...
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Regina Krueger ...
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Storyline

Moisés Kaufman and members of New York's Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie, Wyoming after the murder of Matthew Shepard. This is a film version of the play they wrote based on more than 200 interviews they conducted in Laramie. It follows and in some cases re-enacts the chronology of Shepard's visit to a local bar, his kidnap and beating, the discovery of him tied to a fence, the vigil at the hospital, his death and funeral, and the trial of his killers. It mixes real news reports with actors portraying friends, family, cops, killers, and other Laramie residents in their own words. It concludes with a Laramie staging of "Angels in America" a year after Shephard's death. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Taglines:

When a small town comes face to face with murder, everybody has a tale to tell. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Crime

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

9 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le projet Laramie  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Emerson, who plays a homophobic reverend here, had also starred in a previous Moisés Kaufman production, the off-Broadway play "Gross Indecency: The Trials of Oscar Wilde." In that, Emerson played the gay Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who was prosecuted and imprisoned for his homosexuality (which was an illegal offense in England until the late 1960s). See more »

Quotes

Stephen Belber: 'Live and let live' is, at best, a load of crap. It basically boils down to: 'If I don't tell you I'm a fag, you won't beat the crap out of me'. What kind of philosophy is that?
See more »

Connections

Features NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Let's Dream in the Moonlight
Written by Raoul Walsh and Matty Malneck (as Matt Malnick)
Performed by Billie Holiday
Courtesy of Drive Entertainment
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User Reviews

 
A Moving Film
29 November 2002 | by (Laramie, WY) – See all my reviews

It took me a long time until I finally rented the DVD version of this. I live in Laramie, I go to the University. I didn't arrive here until 2000, but I was, and always have been, a Wyoming resident. Part of me was curious, especially with the actors involved, but another part realized how close to home this was. How close? My drama teacher Lou Anne Wright played Matthew Shepards mother (albeit uncredited).

When I first started watching this I was really confused. If they were taking a documentary approach, why in the hell would they then use real actors? As I sat and thought about it more, though, it made a bit more sense. The interviews were recorded only audibly at the time of the incident for the play version. You could sit down and reshoot it with the original citizens, but it would no longer feel natural. Plus I doubt they would've gotten all the people to consent to being filmed. Remember this is a small town and anonymity can go a long ways.

Aside from the acted documentary, I really felt they did a good job of trying to bring Laramie to life. Yes, they did focus a bit too much on the train tracks which are more or less out of town. I've only even seen them a few times in my 3 years here. They seperate Laramie from West Laramie. Not East Laramie from West Laramie, but Laramie from West Laramie, which should tell you something. Aside from that, it felt surreal to watch this. When I stepped outside my dorm afterwards to return it, I was staring right in the face of the hotel sign that at the time of filming read "Hate is Not a Laramie Value." I drove down third street and saw Laramie Lumber, I drove back on 4th and saw the antiquated Spic & Span Laundry. When they talk about how they drove past Walmart when they went out to kill him, I knew that road. I've driven home on that road many a time.

The characters were also extremely well-acted. For every character I saw portrayed on screen, I've known at least one Wyoming resident that was exactly like them. While some of the performances may have seemed extreme and hokey to some, I felt they had it down pat. I laughed to myself when Buscemi's character spelled out H-O-P-E for emphasis...I've heard the same silly thing done the same way by the same sort of people. Aside from "Live and Let Live" which I can honestly say I've never heard here in 20 years of WY residence (yet was emphasized over and over in the film), I've heard many of the same statements said almost verbatim by people I know.

The story, of course, is touching, but the route they went of making it the story of Laramie vs. the story of Matthew Shepard made it more than just a movie-of-the-week style thing. You can feel the emotions seeping through the screen. At the angel protest, I felt like jumping up and shouting down the bigoted guy leading the anti-gay side.

For its authenticity and heart-felt storytelling, I can't help but give this one a strong recommendation.


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