Emmy-winning filmmaker Kendall Wilcox has kept busy working on his new film “Far Between” since being terminated from BYU last fall. Wilcox was an executive producer in BYU’s broadcast department and was let go, according to BYU, for not coming to work or communicating with his supervisors. While I can’t say for certain, I find those reasons questionable. It seems more likely that he was let go for being openly gay and for working on “Far Between”, a documentary that explores what it is like to be gay and Mormon.
The film is neither meant to be anti-Mormon nor pro-Mormon, it seeks to further the conversation of understanding homosexuality and Mormonism by approaching the issue with empathy first.
For this forthcoming film Wilcox interviewed current Mormons, former Mormons, parents, children, people in mixed-orientation marriage, activists, scholars, students… the list goes on.
In addition to the film he started a nonprofit organization called the Empathy First Initiative to help improve the communication and conversation about what it means to be gay and Mormon as well as other issues.
From the website:
We’re a non-profit multi-media messaging campaign that encourages all of us to approach our interactions with others with empathy first. Through EFI we hope to help create a habit and culture of empathy and invite all to be a part of the larger empathy dialogue happening around the world. As we do so, together we will recognize each other as full human beings, improve the tone and quality of public discourse, and foster a deeper understanding of our collective life experiences.
I think this is a novel approach and could be a game changer in terms of how this contentious issue moves forward with love and compassion.
It’s should come as no surprise that I like stories and believe in the sacred power of storytelling, especially when we tell our own stories. As of today, there are many powerful stories from individuals on the “Far Between” website. The YouTube video that I made in December is posted on there as well. I highly recommend watching Michael’s video. It’s powerful.
“Far Between” is the origin for the “It Gets Better” video that came out of BYU a few weeks ago. The video was all over Facebook and in national news so if you haven’t seen it yet, please take 10 minutes to watch and share.
Next week, Wilcox is releasing another video, this time from straight LDS Church members who will be sharing their stories of how they emphasize with their gay and lesbian friends.
I haven’t seen an official release date for the film yet but I’ll keep my eyes open. In the meantime, you can donate money to help bring the film to completion.