On May 25 and 26, Consulate Calgary was pleased to host American filmmaker, Marta Cunningham. Marta released her first documentary in 2013, called Valentine Road. The film depicts the aftermath and trial following a school shooting in Oxnard, California where 14 year-old Brandon McInerney shot fellow 8th grader, Lawrence King, during English class. In the days before the shooting, Lawrence, who was openly exploring his gender and sexual identity, asked Brandon to be his valentine. Brandon, embarrassed and offended turned to violence to deal with his emotions. Cunningham expertly tells this story considering both the shooter and victim’s points of view.
During her time in Calgary, Marta Cunningham presented her film to various organizations including the Calgary Police Service, Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie and to a public audience in partnership with Safety Under the Rainbow and Fairy Tales Film Festival. Following each screening, Cunningham discussed themes of gender identity, transphobia, LGBTQ inclusion and safety while taking questions from the audience about her documentary.
The United States is facing an ever-changing LGBTQ community and is working to ensure that legislation and social attitudes provide a safe and accepting environment for members of the community. The goal through this visit is to raise awareness of this tragic story and foster conversation in Canada between local community organizations and the public of the importance of creating accepting and inclusive environment for our LGBTQ communities. There is a true opportunity for sharing best practices, information and resources on how to support young people who may be struggling with their own identity and the decisions that those around them make to express themselves between our two countries.
For more information on what the United States is doing to promote and protect the rights of those in the LGBTQ community, click here.