9.0/10
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2 user 1 critic

The Lavender Scare (2017)

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With the United States gripped in the panic of the Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deems homosexuals to be "security risks" and orders the immediate firing of any government ... See full summary »

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6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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... Narrator (voice)
... Dr. Franklin E. Kameny (voice)
... Drew Ference (voice)
... Madeleine Tress (voice)
... Dennis Flinn (voice)
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With the United States gripped in the panic of the Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deems homosexuals to be "security risks" and orders the immediate firing of any government employee discovered to be gay or lesbian. It triggers a vicious witch hunt that lasts for forty years and ruins thousands of lives, while thrusting an unlikely hero into the forefront of what would become the modern LGBT rights movement.

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8 October 2017 (USA)  »

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An astounding warning for our times--and for all times
29 November 2017 | by See all my reviews

This film is beautifully constructed, with a strong narrative through-line composed of innovative and multi-faceted elements. Moreover, its subject-matter could hardly be more timely and relevant for today's LGBTQ community—and far beyond that, as it can be appreciated by any group that has been placed under the inquisitors' lens at any moment in history. The most creative aspect of this highly original production is the focus on the collateral damage of this governmentally directed purge—in the forms of shattered careers and, especially, broken families. It is a rare storyteller who can focus on the missed opportunities for career advancement as a significant loss for these individuals and for our country generally. (It would be really interesting, I think, to follow up this documentary with another that could assess the damage of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on US national security in the past few decades, as, for one example, the firing of dozens of gay military linguists specializing in Arabic and Farsi in the years immediately preceding and following 9/11.) The film reaches its emotional height in the gripping stories of the suicide, likely as a direct result of a homophobic investigation, of Drew Ference, and then of the devastating toll this loss took on his family. The witness of Jen Stotka, Ference's niece, proves that the effects of this witch hunt have continued to ripple through the lives of thousands of American citizens, up to the present day of supposed 'equality'. The film concludes with a direct and prescient warning about the potential backlash facing this community in today's America, namely the removal of Secretary of State Kerry's apology to those damaged by the Lavender Scare from the Department's website within the first week of the Trump presidency. This move comes in the same year as Prime Minister Trudeau's formal apology and offer of compensation to Canadian citizens who were similarly targeted in his country. This breathtaking and bracing film perfectly demonstrates the validity of a statement on Peggy Guggenheim's property in Venice: "Savor kindness, because cruelty is always possible later."


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