In the days and months following Matthew Shepard’s death, news outlets reported that his tortured body was found strung up on a fence “like Jesus on the cross.”
It wasn’t true — he was tied to a fence, but his bloodied and beaten body looked nothing like the crucifixion. Yet the phrase was repeated, and the image of Matthew Shepard the martyr remains to this day.
His parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, and childhood friend Michele Josue hope a new documentary about his life will change that.
This film is narrated in a straightforward manner by Josue, whose words and tone are often heartrending and always sensitive. Interviews with family members, teachers, and friends, as well as personal photos, home videos, letters, and journal entries offer a glimpse into Matt’s life and allow the audience to get to know this figure we previously have only seen in news headlines. Josue uses very simple techniques, but her clear love for her friend and goal of illuminating his life and making a serious political statement shine through and render the film effective.
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine is a very personal documentary, created by an individual who may have not ever considered creating a film if she did not have such a story to tell. Josue’s work is sensitive and respectful, yet it never glosses over the horrific details of the case. This is a very moving film, and one can only hope that it will move its audience right to action.