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The Laramie Project (2002)

TV-14 | | Crime, Drama, History | 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.

Director:

Moisés Kaufman

Writers:

Moisés Kaufman (play), Moisés Kaufman (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:
Kathleen Chalfant ... Anonymous Female Rancher
Laura Linney ... Sherry Johnson
Peter Fonda ... Doctor Cantway
Jeremy Davies ... Jedadiah Schultz
Nestor Carbonell ... Moisés Kaufman
Camryn Manheim ... Rebecca Hilliker
Andy Paris Andy Paris ... Stephen Belber
Grant Varjas ... Greg Pierotti (as Grant James Varjas)
Kelli Simpkins ... Leigh Fondakowski
Clea DuVall ... Amanda Gronich
Billie McBride Billie McBride ... Waitress
Bill Christ Bill Christ ... Man on the Porch
Frances Sternhagen ... Marge Murray
Regina Krueger Regina Krueger ... Alison Mears
Michael Emerson ... Reverend
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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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | History

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 March 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Laramie Project See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was to make its HBO debut on March 16, 2002, but was pushed forward a week when NBC scheduled The Matthew Shepard Story (2002) for the same day. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Doc O'Conner: I remembered something to myself. The night he and I drove around together, he said, 'Laramie sparkles, doesn't it?' And where he was in that spot up there, if you sit exactly in that spot up there, Laramie sparkles. With the low-lying clouds, it's - uh - it's the blue lights that bounce off the clouds. And it goes over the whole city. I mean, I mean, it blows you away. And Matt was right there in that spot. And I can just picture - in his eyes - what he was seeing. And the last ...
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Connections

Referenced in Brows Held High: Otto, or Up with Dead People (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Let Your Light Shine
Written by Norman Silver
Performed by 17th Avenue Allstars and Extreme Measures
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Powerful Statement
3 February 2008 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

Matthew Shepard was about two months short of his twenty-second birth when he was robbed, beaten, tied to a fence post and left to die in a rural area of Wyoming. The man who found him at first thought he was a scarecrow. Rushed to Poudre Valley Hospital at Fort Collins, he died on 12 October 1998--and when Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney were arrested for the crime they resorted to a defense known as "gay panic." Matthew Shepherd had propositioned them, they said, and they were so horrified that they killed him in response.

The gay community and numerous civil rights watchdog groups were outraged by the defense, and as more and more facts came to light it seemed that the crime was somewhat more complicated than Henderson and McKinney wanted the public to know. Witnesses stated that Henderson and McKinney had specifically targeted Shepherd because he was gay. After much legal wrangling, Henderson pled guilty and testified against McKinney, who was convicted; after still more legal wrangling, and at the request of Shepherd's parents, McKinney escaped the death penalty but has no chance of parole.

The case made headlines from end of the United States to the other and prompted numerous calls for Hate Crimes legislation, which had long been stalled both at the state and federal level. And in the midst of the confusion, chaos, and controversy, Moises Kaufman and the members of The Tectonic Theatre Project arrived on the scene, interviewing more than two hundred people about their thoughts and feelings on the case. These were shaped into THE LARAMIE PROJECT, a drama that debuted in 2000 and which has since shocked, impressed, and deeply moved audiences from coast to coast.

On the stage, THE LARAMIE PROJECT is played by eight performers who enact the numerous interview subjects in a three act, three hour performance on a largely bare stage. When filmed by HBO in 2002, it was reduced in length by about half and each interview subject was performed by a different actor--some of them members of the Techtonic Theatre Project, some of them well-known actors such as Laura Linney and Peter Fonda. The result is indeed powerful... but not as effective as the stage version, for on film it tends be a series of readings by "talking heads," a sort of pseudo-documentary, rather than as a cohesive whole.

That said, the great difference between the film and the original script is one of balance. On stage, THE LARAMIE PROJECT takes no sides per se; it simply sets forth the words and allows the audience to judge. On screen, it is distinctly slanted, cutting much of the commentary that gave the original such remarkable balance. Even so, and although far outstripped by the stage version, it is a powerful voice for equality, tolerance, and simple human decency. Recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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