Multi award winning documentary “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” is set to kick off national theatrical release in Toronto beginning February 20th, 2015, with Judy and Dennis Shepard hosting select opening weekend screenings.

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” explores the life and tragic death of Matthew Shepard, the gay student brutally murdered in Laramie, Wyoming in one of the most notorious hate crimes in U.S. history. Framed through the personal lens of friends and family, it’s a story of loss, love, and courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

The vicious murder of 21 year old gay university student Matthew Shepard at the hands of two homophobic peers, shocked the world and became a rallying cry against homophobic violence and anti gay persecution.  On October 7, 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and tied to a fence and left to die because he was gay. Years later, Michele Josue, a close friend of Matt’s, revisits the shocking case with never-before-seen photos, rare video footage, as Shepard’s all-too-brief life is remembered through the vivid testimonies of those who knew him best. New revelations emerge in one of the most notorious hate crimes in U.S. history, leading to a searing, poignant, and multi-layered biographical and sociological portrait. In the end, the notion of forgiveness, embodied in the moving and courageous final act of Shepard’s parents, takes on truly heroic proportions. By humanizing the person behind the symbol of Matthew Shepard, Josue illuminates a legacy that is already profound for the LGBT community and for society as a whole.

Following a highly successful festival tour, which garnered critical acclaim and a variety of audience and jury prizes, documentary “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” opens at Toronto’s Carlton Cinemas beginning February 20th, 2015 coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Senate passing of the Hate Crimes statistic act. There will be a special preview VIP Screening Gala on February 19th. It also opens in Edmonton and Saskatoon on February 22nd for exclusive engagements, with additional cities and screens to follow across the country. Future plans include opening weekend Q and A’s with Film subjects Judy & Dennis Shepard and director Michele Josue alongside community supported screenings in conjunction with numerous equality rights and LGBT groups on local, national and international levels.

About the Filmmaker

Michele Josue is a filmmaker born to Filipino immigrant parents and raised in suburban Maryland. After graduating from Emerson College’s film program in Boston, Michele relocated to Los Angeles where she worked as a short-form video editor as well as in the Art departments on several feature films and TV shows. She currently resides in Los Angeles and has been directing, producing, and editing documentary internationally for over a decade for various schools and non-profit organizations. Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine is her feature-film debut.

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About the Matthew Shepard Foundation

The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs, and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance” through its varied educational, outreach and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew’s story.

 

 

 

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.