Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gen Silent Breaks the Barriers Between the Old, Young, Healthy, and Sick

TheSeattleLesbian - NW Lesbian Lifestyle

Imagine you’ve been with your partner for 30, 40, even 50 years. She needs fulltime nursing care now, care that you can’t provide by yourself. Imagine that the home health care worker arrives on her first day, takes one look at the photo of the two of you celebrating your anniversary and declares, “I’ll pray for you. It’s not too late for you to be saved from the evils of homosexuality.”

Sound farfetched? It’s not. As the first “out” LGBT generation reaches old age, more and more people are finding they need to retreat to the closet if they want to get the medical care they need. An Australian study reported in the Canberra Times last February found that “an alarmingly high number of senior LGBT people would rather commit suicide than risk abuse from a ‘prudish and conservative’ aged health-care system.”

Filmmaker Stu Maddux captures that agonizing situation in his documentary “Gen Silent.” Over the course of the hour-long film, he profiles a lesbian couple, a gay couple, a transgendered woman, and a gay man, each dealing with serious health and aging concerns, each trying to find a way to be who they are at an extraordinarily vulnerable time in their lives. He shot over 80 hours of film in the Boston area, including heartbreaking scenes of KrysAnn, the transgendered woman, who was facing imminent death and who had been abandoned by her family after she transitioned late in life. A Vietnam veteran, her last fight, he reports, was getting the military cemetery to put her chosen name on her grave marker.

The lesbian couple he profiles, Sheri and Lois, have been together over 40 years. They were among those who fought the first battles after Stonewall for LGBT rights. Together they run a B&B in Boston’s South End, and continue to work for progressive causes. But Lois worries about their future. “We put our heart and soul into the movement,” she says in the film. “I have been open for many years, but I would hide again if necessary to survive.”

The documentary has been shown at a number of film festivals (including October’s Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival), and will be shown again at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell in January.

Maddux is pleased with the film’s transition from festivals to other venues. He is encouraged that it is receiving a warm reception among professionals in the field of senior care. “We don’t attack the nursing home industry,” he says. “We just raise a flag to something they don’t quite know how to address yet.”

Maddox, who has won six Emmys for his work in television as a reporter and anchor, admits to being a bit surprised at where his career is today. “I never thought the world would get to the place where I could be an openly gay filmmaker and make a living out of it, and help people this way.” Among his earlier documentaries is “Bob and Jack’s 52-Year Adventure,” a story about an Army sergeant and his commanding officer who came out to the troops in their unit and are still together.

He is now focused on developing a curriculum based on the documentary that can be offered to health care professionals as a continuing education credit. The film is already being used in several places as a training aid. He plans to have the curriculum completed—along with the DVD release of the film—by Spring 2011.

The DVD will also include what he calls “little treasures” he was forced to cut from the film, such as stories Lois and Sheri tell about being followed by the FBI at the beginning of the women’s movement, and their gleeful retelling of finding an electronic bug in their house.

Maddux says that change has to come on the local level. He encourages people to reach out to their county or state department of aging to start a dialog about the issue.

“One screening at a time. Start talking about it,” he says.

He hopes the film will also help connect the generations of LGBT now present in the world. “We have an intergenerational disconnect. Every generation feels it is going through the same problems again. I feel really strongly that for a culture to survive, it has to have a sense of its history. If we don’t have a sense of our history, they will be able to marginalize us,” he continues.

History, he says, isn’t a film or a dictionary or a website. “It is a younger person having a conversation with an older person—an oral tradition.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicago Screening of Gen Silent this Saturday:

The Chicago Sun-Times calls Gen Silent "one of the most important LGBTQ documentaries of the year".

I look forward to being there myself and adding to the discussion afterwards:


OK gotta get a haircut first.

Monday, November 1, 2010

PBS devotes entire episode of "In The Life" to Gen Silent

Throughout November, PBS will broadcast and stream 20 minutes of Gen Silent including an interview with director Stu Maddux on its nationally syndicated program, In The Life.
The episode focuses on film subject KrysAnne Hembrough, a transgender woman facing a terminal illness alone.
Air times and details at: http://www.inthelifetv.org/

BUT here's the whole segment right now!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Film festivals build bridges, present feature documentary

‘Gen Silent’ to screen at Regal Park Terrace on Sept. 26

by Matt Comer September 18, 2010 Comments (0)

Last March, organizers at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte’s GayCharlotte Film Festival set out to raise awareness and build community across lines of difference by collaborating with the Charlotte Jewish Film Festival. Now, GayCharlotte is at it again, this time partnering with the Charlotte Film Festival to present a feature documentary on elderly LGBTs.

A production still from producer/director Stu Maddux’s “Gen Silent.” Photo Credit: Mad Stu Media, LLC.

GayCharlotte Film Festival’s director, Teresa Davis, says the Charlotte Film Fest first reached out to them about two months ago and asked if they were interested in helping to bring “Gen Silent” to town. The film, from producer and director Stu Maddux, follows the lives of older LGBTs and explores the discrimination, fear and challenges they face from a still unwelcoming society.

Davis admits she and other GayCharlotte Film Festival organizers weren’t too keen on the idea of sponsoring (read: helping pay for) a documentary.

“I told the Charlotte Film Festival, ‘You don’t pay money for a documentary,’” she says.

Her opinion quickly changed when she visited the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Durham and saw the film Charlotte Film Fest organizers had planned on screening.

“This thing is so worth it,” she says. “We went to the festival in Durham and saw this movie and said, ‘Oh my gosh. This is the best documentary we’ve seen.’ This is so important.”

Davis says she is excited about the film and the potential for future “bridge building.”

“We’re hoping we can create some buzz and when we do our film festival in March, the filmmaker will be able to come back and show it again for our film festival,” she says.

The GayCharlotte Film Festival is a relatively new kid on Charlotte’s indie film block. But, through partnerships such as those with the Charlotte Film Festival and Charlotte Jewish Film Festival, GayCharlotte is quickly becoming more stable and recognizable. This year, for example, they won a grant from the Charlotte Arts & Science Council.

“The fact we were granted an award made us elated that we could get that support,” Davis says.

“Gen Silent” will screen on Sept. 26, 5:45 p.m. at Regal Park Terrace in Charlotte. Admission is $8. The day before, Davis will participate in a panel discussion on indie films and Charlotte.

For more information about “Gen Silent,” its upcoming screening or more about the Charlotte Film Festival, visit charlottefilmfestival.org.

Friday, September 10, 2010

And also to Outflix Memphis: my regrets for a different reason

I wish I could be there but I'm kind of scared of a guy I met three years ago during a screening in Little Rock. I'm sure he would just drive up for more terrorizing.

Haha! Let's save it for another entry.

Memphis is close enough to Little Rock that you could drive there on a Saturday night

I wonder what Memphis people will think of it. When we were in Richmond, several people of color ask me if Lawrence and Alexandre faced discrimination because they were a mixed race couple. That was the first time we had gotten that question. These patterns that develop during a question and answer session are fascinating to me.

Yes, Alexandre lost most of his friends when he started going out with Lawrence. Which one is black and which one is white? Heeheehee! Gotta see the film! Now don't go assuming anything because of your own experience.

I would love to screen Gen Silent in my old hometown of Nashville soon too. I need to contact Chuck Long about that. It keeps getting pushed off. Sorry Chuck, if you happen to come across this. We are all lucky to have Chuck in our lives.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The empty room reality check

Dale Mitchell, Stu Maddux, Lisa Krinsky

I was humming along with standing ovations and sold out crowds for our LGBT Aging Documentary, Gen Silent, when along came a HUGE reality check at this week's National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association annual convention in San Francisco.

Now listen, it's just an honor to speak to a group of national reporters, so that was a coup in itself.

I was asked to show a chunk of our film and assemble a panel of experts and seniors to talk about LGBT aging issues worth covering....and....

there were 11 people in the audience:

What hell looks like to a moderator

We had a decent time slot.
We worked HARD on getting people into that room.
And I felt HORRIBLE for those friends I had asked to fly in to be on the panel. I felt like the boy who cried, "WOLF." And that feeling created a not so hot job of moderating the panel- but no matter.

Those eleven that did attend heard passionate quotes about the good stories out there from aging experts in the film, Lisa Krinksy (LGBT Aging Project), Dale Mitchell (Ethos) and in the San Francisco area from, Michele Horn Davis (Openhouse). There were also eye-opening responses from transgender senior Felicia Elizondo and eloquent remarks from gay senior Randy Hicks.

And in the end there was an inkling of triumph. It came from those very thoughtful reporters and editors, all xxxx of them who introduced themselves afterwards and asked excellent questions. Maybe a few articles will come out of it. All it takes is one.

There's nothing like staring out into an empty ballroom from a podium to make you feel challenged. This is a message that must be heard- even by a few people at a time.

Dale Mitchell with one of the business cards exchanged after our panel discussion

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's exciting to travel to Richmond, VA

The fundraising screening of Gen Silent in Richmond this weekend is just off the hook! I can hear their applause and support from here in San Francisco.

But I am also quietly comforted by the chance to ask people to support a message that must be heard. I feel it in my gut when I think about the thousands of people we could help. We will need donations in the next 90 days to continue showing this film to people who need to see it most: the person making policy at an assisted living facility, the paid caregiver in a nursing home, the loved one who feels alone.

THAT is why I will get up at 3am with gratitude. It is a such a privilege to be with folks who have created an opportunity to show our film and work together to help our LGBT elders.

Richmond Premiere covered in Style Weekly

A Queer Age | Articles/Archives | Style Weekly

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gen Silent director makes radio appearance

Gen Silent Director Stu Maddux will be on NPR's "The State of Things" Tuesday at 12:40 ET/ 9:40 PT: http://wunc.org/programs/tsot/

Providence RI screening will be filled with cast and crew

Gen Silent Director Stu Maddux

This is the first weekend since our recent launch that we will have screenings going on in different cities at the same time.

While I'm in Raleigh/Durham NC at the NCGLFF, much of the cast and crew will be in Providence, RI for our screening at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.
In Providence, look for the Gen Silent's Executive Producer, Barrie Atkin to head up the Q&A along with film subjects Lawrence Johnson and Mel Simms (did I miss anyone?).

Gen Silent Executive Producer Barrie Atkin

Ethos Executive Director Dale Mitchell (who'se innovative programs are in the film) is scheduled to attend as well.
These screenings have really turned into very lively discussions thanks to all of them.
Ethos Executive Director Dale Mitchell

Friday, August 6, 2010

Looking forward to attending NCGLFF

The Carolina Theatre in Durham

It'll be nice to see friends next weekend at the North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Durham, NC.

The community really turns out for the event and filmmakers know it's a good festival to attend because of how organized and friendly the planners are.

The theater for Sunday's screening of Gen Silent seats 900. You'd think that's a wonderful thing but it's nerve wracking thinking about filling those seats. I guess the programmers believe the film is good enough to do respectably. It is pretty good isn't it! ;)

Looking out into all those faces even half full is very rewarding. And if we can just change one person's life then flying out there is worth it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Documentary about LGBT aging premieres in Durham, NC


August 3, 2010


Those that fought the first battles for equality now face so much fear of discrimination in aging care that they are hiding their lives in record numbers.

Thousands are dying earlier than their straight counterparts, because they are afraid to ask for help.

(DURHAM, NC) Six-time Emmy award-winning director Stu Maddux asks six LGBT elders if they will hide their sexual orientation to avoid being abused or discriminated against by the people and places caring for them. The film features experts who are reaching out to care facilities to educate them about special issues of elderly gay people, such as having no children or being estranged from their families. GEN SILENT has its North Carolina premiere as part of the 15th Annual North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (http://ncglff.org/). Director Maddux will be there for Q&A sessions after each screening.

Here is what people are saying about GEN SILENT:

“The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and The Carolina Theatre in Durham are proud to include Gen Silent in its line up” says Chuck Wheeler, NCGLFF Steering Committee co-chair. “It is Maddux’s finest work so far.”

“We are especially excited to be sharing our stories in North Carolina,” added Lawrence Johnson, one of the subjects of the film. “My story is like thousands of others in your community.”

“Director Stu Maddux has created a wonderful and powerful documentary that asks the question, ‘Who will take care of us as we age?’ There is hope for everyone, but these organizations cannot do it alone.” – Bay Windows

TRAILER & FILM INFO: http://gensilent.com/

TIMES & LOCATIONS: Saturday, August 14, 3:15 p.m. – Carolina theatre, Cinema 1
Sunday, August 15, 5:20 p.m. – Carolina theatre, Fletcher Hall
309 W. Morgan St., Downtown Durham

FOR TICKET INFORMATION: Call The Carolina Theatre box office at 919-560-3030 or go to http://ncglff.org

Want to host a screening of GEN SILENT? Visit http://gensilent.com/

Monday, August 2, 2010

Excerpt of my latest doc on PBS stations

I had to leave our screening in Provincetown. MA a day early last month because the producers at AARP's show "Inside E Street" wanted footage of Gen Silent for an episode about LGBT aging. The episode airs this weekend on selected PBS stations but you can see it here:
Inside E Street 1019: Gay and Gray - AARP

They worked hard on the show and anytime a syndicated program mentions your film, you bow your head and say thanks. It was worth scrambling back to the office for.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I think I'm going to put my will online...

This is not my will

I look forward to living another 45 years, and by then another 45 years thanks to medical advances; but even if die tomorrow, I'm not putting anyone through what I've seen in the last four years. This is the third time I am watching a family battling over a person's last wishes- even when the person is still alive!

Haven't you too heard these lines? "I know, this is not what they would have wanted" (spoken to me at an open-casket funeral)
"Yes she CAN to be buried next to her husband..."(overheard during an argument about a parent's religious affiliation)
And here's my favorite, "I don't think we are reading the right will." (Spoken BY me to an executor as we worked together updating a 20-year-old will of a sick friend).

This is not my will

Don't be blaming the lack of communication on your dysfunctional family.

Blame it on keeping a single copy of your out of date will sitting in a safety deposit box that only one or two people have the key too.

Mix it with the lifetime of emotions and fears that families pour out when it gets to the eleventh hour.

Behold your last years NOTHING like you had envisioned.

So here's what I have concluded. If I want to make sure any of my wishes about anything regarding my final days actually happen, I'm putting my will, my healthcare proxy, my power of attorney- all of it...on line. I'm adding it to my Facebook page and my personal website. I'm doing it now at age, 44 and I'm keeping it there forever. Anyone at anytime can know my business and then no-one at crunch time can say they are the only one's who know the real story.

And I've got news for friends and family, it won't be going viral. It's really very boring reading.

This is Alfred Nobel's will

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gen Silent « Rainbow Senior Living

Gen Silent « Rainbow Senior Living: "Gen Silent pinpoints one major source of anxiety for GLBT elders as a deeply ingrained distrust of institutions, given that the medial establishment pathologized gays for so long and used such barbaric treatments on them in attempts to ...

Rainbow Senior Living - http://www.rainbowseniorliving.com/wordpress/

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Film Subject: " I just finished writing a letter to Michelle Obama"

Lawrence Johnson featured in the documentary, Gen Silent

I just finished writing a letter to Michelle Obama telling her all about, "Gen Silent," and sending her the "Gen Silent" website.
I am spreading the word wherever I can. Who knows, The First Lady just may respond!
We have to dream bigger dreams, and I have the audacity to Hope.
Lawrence Johnson

Monday, May 31, 2010

Big month in store for new documentary

MA Statehouse is one of the backgrounds that Gen Silent's closing credits to donors plays over.
This month we screen the film to lawmakers inside.

This Friday, June 4th, Gen Silent screens at one of the world's most important LGBT film festivals, New Fest in New York. Details

After "taking a few meetings". I head back to Boston for a screening of the film at the Massachusetts State House to help raise lawmaker awareness of LGBT aging issues (that is even more exciting to me than NewFest).

On June 17th and 19th Gen Silent screens at the Provincetown International Film Festival and they are an organized, classy bunch. Good festival!

In between all that I will be doing a lot of quiet reflection on how to manage all the opportunities to help people that this film is creating.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

First Laurel Leaves for Gen Silent

Kingpin naps on the growing stack of festival submission forms

Multi-tasking is an understatement. I've been catching up on a hundred work things as I slowly output and re-output the latest edition of our documentary on LGBT Aging, Gen Silent.

Its world premiere earlier this month at the Boston LGBT Film Festival was very encouraging (two sold out shows and three standing ovations). Now comes the 10% of finishing left:
technical correction and content changes based on audience feedback.

The computer below makes laurel leaves while the one above renders out the film

In between the rendering (computer processing video) is when I try to get out the news that we have a good film on our hands. Things like making the graphic of those little laurel leaves for the film festivals we are accepted in: NewFest, Provincetown Intl. Film Festival, NCGLFF.

I'm looking forward to soon having help with all these things. It will all depend on our fundraising.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

World premiere of latest Stu Maddux documentary sells out, gets three standing ovations

Cast of Gen Silent with Director Stu Maddux (2nd from right)

The world premiere of our documentary on LGBT seniors, Gen Silent was a triumph. The article above gives all the fun details!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The first completed version

I just sent the first completed version of Gen Silent to it's premiere this weekend in Boston at the LGBT Film Festival there. We chose Boston because the film is entirely shot there.

It's taken twenty months to get to this Fed-Ex drop off and the last four months have been non-stop in front of the editor. Working out stopped about two months ago when it became clear that we wouldn't be getting an assistant editor.

Director Stu Maddux 10 lbs. heavier after the final months of editing

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hard to believe it's been a year since Krys Anne passed away

KrysAnne Hembrough from Gen Silent

Emails from Krys Anne's caregiving group circulated today in remembrance of the anniversary of her death from cancer.
She is one of the most compelling subjects of my current documentary, Gen Silent that premiere's in just a few days.

Krys Anne reviews her latest interview shot on a Canon XH-A1

For me, it was the anniversary of pulling together a group of people in the LGBT community to care for her. We barely knew each other or her. But through her case worker, Jenifer Firestone, we learned that our community has the power to care for our LGBT elders or any if us who is facing mortality alone.
Many of us know what it's like to be alone. I think it's the one thing I'm grateful that people coming out today will never have to feel- that they are the only LGBT person in the world. But there is a power in having felt that. I won't let it happen to people on the back side of their lives.

Krys Anne and Director Stu Maddux look at footage during their first week shooting

Friday, April 30, 2010

Emerging from Submarine Duty

You'll see a 75 day gap in between entries because I've been so busy finishing Gen Silent. There has not even time to tweet and I'm afraid it would have been the same thing over and over: editing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Journal: How I keep going?

My edit suite when I first see it in the morning.
Visible in this photo: last night's bowl of chili, Emmies and a cat.

"Funds are running low". "Time is running out".

These phrases cross the brain of just about every independent filmmaker. It's like that news ticker in Times Square.
For me, I must have a constant source of something that gets me up at 4am (yes 4am) when the fear can be at its worst.

Kingpin still uses Firewire 400 cables

It is an unwavering belief in how important this film is. A gratification about how much it is going to help people. If I held any other main motive in my heart for doing this then I would succumb to doubts ad infinitum.

Ahhh, that's feels much better now that I've written that out.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Journal: Editing Gen Silent

Stu Maddux editing a scene from Gen Silent with Lawrence Johnson

From here in Novato, California, I am spending most of most of my waking hours in Boston, Massachusetts as seen sitting two feet from a large HDTV editing monitor.

The months between now and the May premiere of our documentary, Gen Silent, will be a non-stop race to finish the film with the dwindling funds that we have.
We are about 40% finished with the rough cut and it looks phenomenal.

Alexandre Rheaume cared for by his partner Lawrence Johnson

The access that these LGBT seniors have bravely given us into their lives simply takes my breath away at times. There is nothing like it out there that explains so clearly their fears of discrimination and isolation as they grow old.

If we can get it out there, this film will be a life-changer for people.

Ordering individual scenes before editing

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I just wanted to say thank you

On Feb 9, 2010, at 7:48 PM, Ellen Grudowski wrote:

Mr. Maddux,

I just wanted to say thank you for giving a voice to a cause that people often never think about. I am an undergraduate social work student at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and often feel alone here in my quest to educate others about the invisible LGBT senior population. You have created such an important documentary that, from the little I've seen, sheds light on something I am quite passionate about. I am the only student in my class who is devoted to LGBT seniors and have found it difficult to articulate the issues that face this often forgotten about population. Again, I thank you for making this documentary.

I have made it my humble mission to try and change the face of the resources that already exist within Columbus so that LGBT elders can feel welcome. I plan on putting together a LGBT senior sensitivity training/education for my internship to present to agency caregivers, homemakers, and meal delivery personnel in the spring. My hopes are that if this workshop is a success that I can present it to other agencies within Columbus, and help open doors for the LGBT seniors in my community. I'm also working on a research project that highlights the life of a gay gentleman living in rural America and his long-term intimate relationship with his partner. My goal with this project is to put forth a positive portrayal of gay men into the academic research world as most research journals and articles tend to focus on the negative topics such as domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, and the supposed impossibility for gays to exist in rural areas.

I am passionate about this cause, and am wondering if there is anything I can do to help your documentary reach a wider audience? Ohio is not the most gay friendly state in general, but Columbus has one of the largest gay populations in the midwest, so I'd be more than happy to push to have your documentary shown here if it is not already coming here. If there is anything I can do please let me know.

Thanks again,
Ellen Grudowski

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Documentary subjects Bob and Jack given national attention in coverage of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Associated Press:

Obama to call for an end to 'don't ask, don't tell'

January 27, 2010 | 4:39 pm


President Obama will call for the repeal of the military's “don't ask, don't tell” policy toward homosexuals in his State of the Union address tonight, an Obama administration official said.

The policy was signed into law in 1993 by then-Democratic President Clinton as a compromise after the military objected to his calls to open its doors to gays.

Obama, who will deliver his State of the Union address at 9 p.m. EST, had pledged during the presidential campaign to change the policy. The policy stops the government from asking recruits or anyone in the military if they are homosexual, provided they did not disclose their sexual orientation.

Critics charge that having gays openly serve in the military would undermine morale and discipline. But others reject such complaints and call the policy unfair.

-- Associated Press

File photo from Feb. 2009 of Jack Reavley,left, 85, and Bob Claunch, 83, who have been together for more than 50 years. They met in the Army while they were both serving in Munich and have been together ever since. They kept their relationship secret for a year before confronting the troops in their unit. Jack had a wife and 2 kids that he left so he could be with Bob, and the two have spent their life together running a radio station and playing extras in TV and film. A documentary about their lives was released in 2006, called "Bob and Jack's 52-Year Adventure". They are now retired and live at Triangle Square, the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing complex in Hollywood. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stu Maddux doc selected for Bay Area Fest

From the Stu Maddux documentary, "Trip To Hell and Back"

We are delighted to inform you that your film "Trip To Hell And Back " has been selected for the Tiburon International Film Festival to be held March 18-26, 2010.