Premiering in Chicago at the 2012 Peace on Earth Film Festival, Illinois expat Charlie Gage’s “Inspired: The Voices Against Prop 8” chronicles the events that proceeded the 2008 passage of California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that sought to amend the state Constitution to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman. Once passed — by a 5% margin — Prop 8 essentially reversed a state Supreme Court ruling that had legalized marriage equality months before.
Gage’s first full-length documentary, “Inspired” comes to Illinois at a very opportune moment. With Illinois State Representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell and Kelly Cassidy having filed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act — a bill that if passed would allow same-sex couples to marry — now is the perfect time for the Illinois lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community to begin the difficult discussion of how to ensure its passage.
Told through mixture of interviews with activists and organizers and raw footage from the protests that flourished all over Los Angeles, “Inspired” analyzes the events that lead to the passage of the anti-LGBTQ measure and the subsequent movement in reaction it. Candidly introspective, the documentary painfully demonstrates the multitude of ways in which racism and inter-group discord among the key players in the Angelen@ LGBTQ movement played a factor in the passage of Prop 8.
The documentary is not without its faults, however. For a film that ambitiously attempts to showcase the multitude of voices that grew out of the opposition to Prop. 8, there are voices that are noticeably absent or muted. Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ organization that headed the fight against ballot initiative, conspicuously absent, only present through third party references. Additionally, with an over-representation of men in the interviews, there is little opportunity to discuss how issues of sexism may have played out during the planning and implementation of the campaign against Prop 8, despite statistics that show more female same-sex couples had married than male during the brief period it was legal in California.
Yet despite its flaws, “Inspired” masterfully documents the awakening of a community that had long been perceived as dormant and complacent. Through personal interviews and live footage of the community’s palpable anger, Chicago’s audience will taken to a city far on the other side of the country — with different faces and organizations — but with a similar desire for equality.
“Inspired: the Voices Against Prop 8″ will be screening at the Chicago Cultural Center this Saturday, February 25th at the Peace on Earth Film Festival. For more information visit www.peaceonearthfilmfestival.org