Directed and produced by Cindy L. Abel, the film revisits the case of Army hero Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, who was expelled by Col. Patsy Thompson because she was a lesbian. What was previously unknown is that Thompson was also a lesbian. The way she handled the military trial, however, led to Cammermeyer’s re-instatement via federal court and eventual change in military policy.
The “don’t ask don’t tell” policy was instituted by the Clinton Administration in 1994. While it was intended as a progressive measure, the updated rule prohibited gay, bisexual or transgender people from speaking about or disclosing same-sex relationships during their time in the armed services. It faced numerous legal challenges and ultimately was phased out in 2011.
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Cammermeyer’s memoir was adapted as an Emmy-winning 1995 TV movie, Serving in Silence, which was executive produced by Barbra Streisand. Glenn Close played Cammermeyer, and the cast also included Judy Davis, Ryan Reynolds and Molly Parker.
In addition to revisiting the history of Cammermeyer’s case, Surviving the Silence explores Thompson’s life with her now-wife, Barbara Brass. They reflect on the challenge of navigating extraordinary public and private circumstances and their more recent activity as activists.
Surviving the Silence has screened at numerous film festivals this year. It will be released commercially in the fourth quarter.
Virgil Films has acquired and distributed a range of TV and film projects, specializing in documentaries. Its releases include Oscar-nominated docs Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me and Restrepo, as well as popular titles like I Am Chris Farley and Forks Over Knives. Virgil’s first in-house production was last year’s Clarence Clemons, Who Do I Think I Am.
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