Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig
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In 1998, Hedwig and the Angry Inch opened off-Broadway, taking New York by storm. Spurred on by Stephen Trask's energetic songs, this rock musical tells the story of a singer from East Berlin whose botched sex change leaves her somewhere between male and female. Three years later, creator John Cameron Mitchell adapted his stage show into a complex and imaginative film that established its own cult following. Jump back a decade to 1985, when the Hetrick-Martin Institute created the Harvey Milk High School program in New York. Its mission: to provide a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning teens. Students at the school and HMI's after-school programs come from diverse backgrounds, but they share a desire for an open-minded and creative environment. With the assistance of Mitchell and Trask, record producer Chris Slusarenko assembled an impressive list of indie-rock musicians-including Rufus Wainwright, Sleater-Kinney, They Might Be Giants, Frank Black, Jonathan Richman, and Cyndi Lauper-to record Wig in a Box: Songs from & Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch, an album to benefit HMI. Follow My Voice profiles four Harvey Milk students as they navigate the labyrinth of teenage life while also coping with a society that does not always accept them. The film expertly utilizes the production of the album and its songs as a soundtrack for the lives of these fascinating teens, providing a moving, inspirational, and empowering journey for its audience before they rush to the record store.
Director's Statement Collapse
When we embarked on this project to film the re-recordings of the music from Hedwig for a compilation benefiting the Hetrick-Martin Institute (home of the Harvey Milk High School for LGBTQ), we envisioned it as a raucous journey that would marry gender, sexuality, and rock, true to the spirit of the tremendous work that is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. What we did not know was how inspired we would be, not just by the incredible kids, but also by the album's artists and producers. Kim and Kelley Deal of The Breeders drove all night in the rain and snow just to get to the studio. Why did the artists want to get involved? Because as artists and iconoclasts they knew that in a world that seeks to polarize and compartmentalize, voices from the "outside" need to be louder than ever to rise above the din. The Harvey Mudd students we followed were, indeed, loud and clear. Despite all that they had to endure-societal discrimination, abuse at their former schools, financial restraints-they rose above it all, proclaiming who they were over and over again, without hubris, just humanity. These children would have probably not found this conviction or strength so early on were it not for HMI and the support they received there.
The irony is that all of us wish there was no need for the Hetrick-Martin Institute or the Harvey Milk High School. We wish that every one of the kids in our film and the hundreds of other kids who benefit from the institute could just go to high school or an after-school program anywhere and be safe. But as Stephen Trask says in our film: "If anti-gay violence were counted as a hate crime, and violent homophobes were removed from high school and sent to a reform school, then maybe we wouldn't need this."
In the making of this film we were able to witness the sort of hope and inspiration that only true diversity can bring, and we are thrilled that through the Tribeca Film Festival we can bring that to you.
Film Information Collapse
[FOLLO] | 2006 | 110 | Documentary Feature
Directed by: Katherine Linton and Ishai Setton
Foreign Title: (Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig)
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About the Director(s)Collapse
Katherine Linton is an award-winning producer/director whose documentaries have aired on Discovery, VH1, Bravo, TLC, and A&E. She wrote and produced AIDS: A Pop Culture History for VH1 (Cable Poz Award for Best History Documentary); Black Las Vegas: In Through the Backdoor for TLC; and The Junkie Next Door: Women and Heroin for A&E's Investigative Reports. Linton brought gay and lesbian issues to a national audience throughout the 1990's as senior producer and host of PBS's In the Life. In 2004 Her company Linton Media Inc. produced The Evolution Will Be Televised for Viacom's LOGO channel in 2005. Linton Media is currently producing a segment of The Addiction Project for HBO.