Harvey Milk is now giving 'em hope in
American gay rights activists found
solace and inspiration in the release of director Gus Van Sant's
Milk, which was released weeks after a triumvirate of gay
marriage defeats in Arizona, Florida and California on November 4.
The film is based on the life of gay activist Harvey Milk, who in
1978 was fighting a draconian Anita Bryant-backed measure – the
Briggs Initiative – that sought to expel gay and lesbian teachers
from California schools. Milk, the first openly gay politician in
the U.S., fought back against the measure and won, but his victory
was short lived. Twenty days after voters had rejected the Briggs
Initiative, Milk was assassinated on the steps of San Francisco City
Hall by a disgruntled former city commissioner, Mike White.
The movie's timing seemed like destiny,
its message powerful. And it became an early contender for an Oscar
best picture win.
But the film fell behind when Slumdog
Millionaire took off. Slumdog and The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button each earned more Oscar nominations than Milk's
In Berlin, however, screenings at the
59th Annual Berlin International Film Festival will likely
help Milk recover momentum. Also expected to help is the
film's wide release from 300 theaters to over 882 on Friday, January
The festival – also known as the
Berlinale – is the third largest in the world.
Three Milk-themed films will be
screened at the Berlinale this year. Director Robert Epstein's
original 1984 Milk biopic, The Times Of Harvey Milk, and a new
short film, 575 Castro Street, will be screened along with Van
Sant's Oscar-nominated Milk.
In the short film, the set of the
Castro Camera Store used in Milk plays as visual backdrop to
an audio recording made by Milk just a few weeks after his election
to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Audiences will hear Milk's 1977 words:
“Because last week I got that phone call from Altoona,
Pennsylvania. And my election gave somebody else, one more person,
hope. And after all that's what it's all about. It's not about
personal gain, it's not about ego, it's not about power. It's about
giving those young people out there in Altoona, Pennsylvanias hope.
You gotta give 'em hope.”
The Berlinale opens on February 5.