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Makers of hate-crime documentary Love, Scott: ‘Being in the closet is a form of trauma’

Jess Glass March 29, 2018

The makers of a heartfelt documentary about the aftermath of a man’s life after a homophobic attack talk to PinkNews about changing the criminal justice system and being in the closet.

Love, Scott is the true story of Scott Jones, a gay man who was left paralysed after an attack which he and his loved ones firmly believe was motivated by homophobia.

The documentary, which premiered at BFI Flare, is a sensitive exploration of Jones’ life in the three years after the attack and the relationship between strength and fear.

The film has been praised by many people, including BFI Flare festival programmer Michael Blyth, who was partially responsible for including the Canadian documentary in the LGBTQ+ film festival line-up.

Scott Jones and writer and director Laura Marie Wayne sat down with PinkNews to discuss the moving and compassionate documentary.

(Creative Commons)

Jones was first keen to highlight how if these attacks were still happening to people like him, other groups in the LGBT community must be struggling with far less attention — particularly trans people and people of colour.

“It just shows that we know that people of colour and trans disabled people of colour are the most targeted in society and so if this is still happening to white cisgender men, the most privileged in the community, then it trickles down and just gets worse,” he said.

“There are problems to be fixed and I do think the fact that I’m white and cis helped with the story getting publicity in the news, there are people of colour who are targeted and it doesn’t get out as much because society doesn’t care as much.”

The film’s overriding theme is that of self-love.

“It’s a film that documents a journey of grief and trauma and through that sheds light on the power of getting in touch with who you are, and your inner child, and forgiveness,” said Jones.

“the film calls attention to what matters in this short and fragile lifetime and asks us to remember the little person inside of each of us,” added Wayne.

The film has been praised for its political nature and neither Jones nor Wayne have shied away from that, highlighting the relevance of the film in 2018.

“A lot of times people were shocked that in 2013 this is still happening, we have this conception that because there’s gay marriage now all the battles have been fought and everything is fine, and that’s definitely not the case,” filmmaker Laura Marie Wayne said.

(Love, Scott)

In creating Love, Scott, Wayne has importantly given a voice to someone affected by a vile hate crime.

“We wanted to make sure that Scott’s voice found a platform and became an authority” Wayne explained. “We could see that these other versions of the story being written either in the media or later in the justice system had their versions of what’s true.”

“I remember seeing this article that said ‘Scott forgave his attacker and moved on with his life’ and it just felt like what does that mean, do you even have a sense of how his day to day life has changed?”

Scott Jones echoed this, saying that his experience in the years since the attack were far deeper than many people saw.

He said: “It’s like that analogy of the iceberg, people just saw the tip of it and through social interactions I realised that oh, this person thinks I’ve gone through it and I’ve worked it all out.

(BFI)

“It’s going to be a lifetime of chipping away at the grief that this has caused in my life. That’s another means of catharsis, knowing that the heart of it my truth is being conveyed.”

A section of the film discusses Jones’ experience of coming out as gay and his time spent closeted, which he now says was a traumatic experience for him.

“I think this film really helped me identify traumatic experiences in my life and while we were filming I was working with a therapist who really helped me,” Jones said.

“Being in the closet is really a form of trauma and when I experienced this trauma, the attack, all of this previous trauma surfaced in full force. They run alongside one another, they intersect, and I think that’s true of all grief and trauma — everything in your past will come back up.”

He continued: “Trauma isn’t something that people talk about, and it’s central to this story.  Grief is not a linear process, it’s messy and it’s painful, and i think Love, Scott really conveys that and forces people to look at the trauma society causes.”

(ARMEND NIMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the pair, Love, Scott is a film with several political aims that are addressed at both the LGBT+ community and its allies.

“There are a few layers to the film. A big part of it that we were looking at is the invisibility of queer experience in the criminal justice system in Canada, it’s huge,” Wayne said.

“There is such a gap between the number of hate crimes that are reported, and the number that make it to trial and then the number that actually result in convictions, and so we really wanted to shine a light on this and say that something isn’t working.”

She added: “It was clear to me that it was very important for the queer community to have part of their experience represented in this way, but it’s also a film that really needs to be seen by people outside of the queer community to give them a window to see what the experience is like.”

Toronto police at Pride (Photo by Ian Willms/Getty Images)

Another theme of the film is that of disability and accessibility, something that Jones and Wayne both felt very passionately about.

Wayne said:  “We hope it also calls attention to all the barriers that exist for people who are using wheelchairs, it’s something that we had no idea about before the attack happened and it was a very steep learning curve, there’s so much work to be done in terms of making public venues accessible for everyone.”

BFI Flare: London’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival runs March 21 – April 1 at BFI Southbank.

More: bfi, BFI Flare, BFI Flare 2018, Canada, Film Reviews, Hate crime, lgbt film, Love Scott

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