Rating: (3 out of 5) Saturday, 10/18/2008, 12:30 PM Feature presentation, $10 at AFI Silver
INSPIRED BY HER own experience following her son’s coming out, Susan Polis Schultz set out on a project to hear how other mothers and fathers reacted to the news that their children were gay or lesbian. The result — Anyone and Everyone — is a sweet, simple documentary about what happens in families after a child comes out. The film’s title is reflective of the diversity that Polis Schultz brings to the screen with families that range from Jewish to Mormon, from Japanese to Native American, and live everywhere from Wyoming to New York State.
There is the East Indian family who ask to have their identities masked for fear of the repercussions should their neighbors and colleagues find out about their son’s sexuality. There’s the story of the father who, upon learning from his wife that their son is gay sets out to find a pay phone so he can call to let the young man know that he loves him and it will all be okay.
And there’s what might be the film’s most endearing instance, when one of the mothers remembers how shocked she was to learn that her daughter was a lesbian because she didn’t know there could be such a thing as an Asian lesbian. She fears her daughter might be the first one.
What’s difficult about Polis Schultz’s film is the fact that, despite the variety of social, ethnic and economic backgrounds from which her subjects come, the stories feel very familiar. Anyone and Everyone is a journey we’ve taken before. The parents that go from resentment to PFLAG, the parents who express their disbelief that anyone could turn their back on their child over his or her sexuality, and the parents who do just that.
This is not to say that films like Anyone and Everyone are not necessary. But the toughest part of GLBT film festivals in general is that so many films like this will be played for audiences that often know these stories all too well. Many of us have gone through the process of coming out to our parents and families. We know, from our own experiences and those of our friends, the emotions that range from fear to anger to acceptance.
So it may be that the point of seeing Anyone and Everyone is not so much to experience something new, but to remind ourselves that the cycle of coming out is an endless one, that more stories are being made every day. And even if they start to sound familiar, we have to respect the courage it takes every time.
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