I was on my way to class when I got the email. It was a normal day like any other: near the end of senior year, and I was itching to finish up the next two weeks of college and graduate. My BA! The future! The whole world was open to me. So, when I got the email from our Dean of Students, I promptly deleted it. You see, it had become practice at my (relatively small, liberal arts) school to receive an email from the DoS if a student passed away during the year. There were really no other reasons why that particular email would show up in my inbox. And I wasn’t interested, in this, the second-to-last week of classes, in reading some sob story about a girl I hadn’t known passing away. I just wanted to get on with my day.
So I don’t know what prompted me to retrieve the email from my trash and read it before leaving. Maybe it was curiosity — if a friend of a friend had passed, I’d likely hear about it. I couldn’t have possibly expected that it would be about a friend of mine. But, it was. A good friend. One whom I’d – almost, briefly – been more than friends with.
What struck me about her aside from her constantly upbeat attitude, was her need to create social change. Everywhere she went, she was interacting with the top of feminist scholarship – Steinem, Hillary Clinton, and more were regularly interacting with her, and she strove to make a difference with everything she did.
However, sadly, she didn’t feel she had a personal voice — she never felt completely comfortable coming out. It is the memory of this dear friend that inspired me to approach my friend and collaborator, C.C. Webster, to write a script that reflects both her struggle with identity and my own grief of having lost such an endearing individual.
The resulting script, “Gone,” is a touching and contemplative character piece that resonates with anyone who has lost a loved one. With this film, I’m striving to leave not just a personal memorial, but a legacy – that of being honest, of being open, and of being genuine with those around you.
In “Gone,” we meet Pen, played by Sandha Khin, who is a young woman trying to park her car on the way to a meeting that has her nervous. She receives a phone call from her mom, who reassures her that everything will be fine. Pen parks and heads over to a lemonade stand, where she meets Marcus, a young graphic designer who works in the area. They engage in some small talk before revealing their shared history: both Marcus and Pen at one time had dated Jimmy, a young man who has recently died in a car accident.
Pen still hasn’t dealt with her personal issues over Jimmy coming out as gay, nor has she recovered fully from his recent passing. Marcus, too, struggles with how to deal with Jimmy’s death, understanding that Pen still hasn’t fully recovered from losing her past love. Marcus gives Pen a keepsake left behind by Jimmy, which, in some small sense, brings her closure.
As a member of the LGBT community, some of the things I’ve struggled with aren’t just about the lack of representation of queer characters in film and television, but the fact that, when we do look at those representations, it’s not always written, directed, or acted with honesty.
This statement isn’t made with the intent of casting aspersions. I know the community is one big glass house, and I hope to work alongside others to keep it standing. What matters with this project is, rather, the idea that queer people are three-dimensional individuals — that the LGBT community is not defined entirely by our sexuality. (Marcus is, after all, a graphic designer, drives a Prius, and grieves over a lost love.)
A major goal with this film is to reach audiences beyond just the standard queer-filmmaker and queer-film-watcher audience. “Boys Don’t Cry” wouldn’t have rocketed Hilary Swank to fame had straight viewers not championed the film along with the LGBT community. In every civil rights movement, it’s been important to include the perspectives and the aid of allies of the community. Here, I seek to do the same.
Art can liberate peoples’ perspectives in ways that activism cannot. By depicting homosexuals dealing with universal problems, not just LGBT problems, “Gone” will bridge the humanity of two worlds while upholding the importance of being true to yourself and embracing your identity.
My last film, “Snapshot,” played at the Palm Springs Film Festival, Outfest, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, image+nation in Montreal, and I won second place at the Las Vegas Cinefest script competition.
With “Gone,” I aspire to attract the eyes of all cinephiles. I am hoping to bring this film to the bigger mainstream festivals so that our message of equality gets as much visibility as possible. In order for our message to be heard, and in order for that message to make a difference, the film must be produced to the standard that the script deserves. Too often with LGBT films, the budgetary constraints lead to unpolished productions which virtually disqualify them from being accepted in to influential film festivals. When they are only accepted in to LGBT niche festivals, the films only preach to the choir.
So we are turning to the LGBT community to help us raise the funds to make something with the production value to truly stand out. I really want this film to act as a universally accepting message that anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can connect to. I believe “Gone” has the propensity to build bridges and attract positive artistic attention both within and outside the LGBT community.
Please watch our video and consider contributing to a film that wants to make a difference.
Included in our perks is the ability make a dedication to someone you love or have lost. “Gone” is ultimately a film about grief and finding the strength to move on and we hope you’ll find meaning in this option.
Miranda Sajdak (Producer/Director)
Miranda Sajdak is a graduate of the Columbia University Film Studies program. She has worked for many years in productions in both New York and Los Angeles. Recent projects include work on ABC Familyâ€™s Huge as assistant to Winnie Holzman, work on Cloverfield, The Bourne Ultimatum, and as Assistant Director for the Elle: Make Better DVD series starring Brooklyn Decker. She recently won 2nd prize in the Las Vegas Cinefest screenwriting competition for her short film Santa Baby. Her last short, Snapshot, which she co-produced, wrote, and directed, played at both Outfest and Palm Springs, among other festivals throughout the world. See Miranda Sajdak’s full list of credits.
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‘Apparently You’ll Never Believe Us’: House Republican Melts Down After Reporter Questions His ‘Evidence’ Against Biden
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) became defensive and accusatory after repeatedly being unable to answer a reporter’s questions in a press conference Wednesday, held to announce what House Republicans claim is “evidence” against President Joe Biden.
A shortened version of the video posted by the news organization Heartland Signal went viral, garnering nearly one million views in under three hours on the social media platform X.
“Mr. Chairman, question about the timing of all of this,” began an NBC News reporter identified by Mediaite as Ryan Nobles. “You’re talking about a two-tiered system of justice. If I’m not mistaken, on August 7, 2020 Bill Barr was the attorney general and Donald Trump was the president, so explain to me where the two-tiered system of justice comes into play. And then the WhatsApp message you have, I believe, is dated June 6, 2017. Joe Biden is not vice president or even a candidate for president at that time. So where is the direct connection to some sort of criminal malfeasance within these two pieces of evidence?”
Chairman Smith could not only not answer any part of those questions, he appeared to forget a portion of them.
“Well, I think the facts speak for themselves,” Smith replied. “There’s over 700 pages of examples of, where people should be very concerned, when you’re talking about um, ah, – what was your first question?”
Smith went on to say, “It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House,” after being reminded them President at that time was Donald Trump. “We need to make sure that the Department of Justice works for all people and doesn’t treat those who are politically connected or wealthy much differently. And unfortunately, we have several examples that came forward by the two IRS whistleblowers, that proves that people are treated differently because they’re politically connected.”
“Are you suggesting that Joe Biden being the president now, is unfairly treating Donald Trump in his indictment?” Nobles asked.
Again, Smith did not answer the question.
“What I’m talking about is the 700 pages that we have before us, which is all the information that came from the IRS whistleblowers, and that’s what we’re releasing right now,” Smith replied, again not answering Nobles’ question. “And I’ll tell you, I would encourage everyone in this room to look at those 700 pages. If you think it’s okay, with what’s in it, then we live on two different planets.”
“Can you explain the timing of the August 6 WhatsApp message? Why is that evidence of some wrongdoing?” Nobles continued..
“I’m not an expert on the timeline,” Smith admitted, before pivoting to say, “I would love to have President Biden and his family to tell us about all the timelines, because it’s really, really unfortunate that we see so many meetings and so many phone calls that involved around official activity that the Vice President has been participating in, and then big sums of money follows later –”
“But he’s not the president or the vice president at that time. Where, where’s the wrongdoing? He wasn’t even a candidate for president,” Nobles pointed out.
“He was a candidate – ” Smith claimed.
“On August 6 –” Nobles began before Smith interrupted him.
“So apparently apparent – what source are you with?” Chairman Smith asked Noble.
“I’m with NBC,” the reporter replied.
“So apparently, you’ll never believe us,” Smith charged.
“I’m asking you a very direct question,” Nobles explained. “You presented a piece of evidence that you say came on August 6, 2017, that demonstrates that Joe Biden was using political influence to help his son. He wasn’t a political figure at that time. The first WhatsApp message you put up, where yo talk about the brand,” Nobles explained. “I’m completely open minded about this. I’m asking you specifically, how does that demonstrate that there was some sort of political influence being put over him, if at that time, he is not a political – he’s not an elected official?”
“I’m definitely not going to pinpoint one item,” Chairman Smith said defensively.
“You presented it!” Nobles acclaimed. “It was the first thing that you brought up.”
“So apparently, you don’t agree with that. So report that you disagree with it. I’ll take the next question. Yes?” Smith said, refusing to answer any of Nobles’ questions.
Watch below or at this link.
‘Jaw Dropping’: Democratic Senator Slams Tuberville’s ‘Open’ Talk About ‘White Supremacy’
A top Democratic Senator is blasting freshman Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville for his “jaw dropping” and open talk about white supremacy, after the Alabama Republican denigrated President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Senator Tuberville, the Alabama Republican who single-handedly has blocked well over 300 U.S. Military promotions, said the U.S. military is “not an equal opportunity employer,” appearing to imply Biden’s nomination of an accomplished officer was based on the color of his skin, not his impressive achievements and experience.
Air Force General Charles “CQ” Brown Jr., who is Black, will be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after a strong bipartisan 83-11 vote by the U.S. Senate confirming him last week. Sen. Tuberville voted against him, saying Tuesday he had “heard some things that he talked about about race and things that he wanted to mix into the military.”
General Brown is the first African American to head a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. He was one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People of 2020.”
“He is a respected warfighter who will serve America well,” wrote former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson that year, lauding General Brown in his TIME profile. “As the former commander of Pacific Air Forces, he’s highly qualified to deter China and reassure allies in the Indo-Pacific. The suppression of ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria was largely accomplished by local forces on the ground, enabled by air power CQ helped orchestrate.”
“Let me tell you something: Our military is not an equal-opportunity employer,” said Tuberville, falsely, appearing to imply it should not be.
“We’re not looking for different groups, social justice groups,” the Alabama Senator continued, in his Bloomberg News interview (video below), explaining why he voted against Brown’s nomination. “We don’t want to single-handedly destroy our military from within. We all need to be one.”
“I think he’ll do a good job,” Tuberville also said, “but I heard him say a few things that that really didn’t fit with me in terms of making our military better and better. We have things that that we need to do to make sure that that that we can uphold – and we can’t do that without a great, hard strong military.”
“Let me tell you something, our military is not an equal opportunity employer. We’re looking for the best [of] the best, to do whatever. We’re not looking for different groups, social justice groups. We don’t want to single handedly destroy our military from within.”
Asked for specific concerns, Tuberville said General Brown, “came out and said we need we need certain groups, more pilots, certain groups to have an opportunity to be pilots. Listen. I want it to be on merit. I want our military to be the best. I want the best people I don’t care who they are. Men. Women, if that makes any difference, Catholics, Protestants, I want everybody to believe in the one goal that we have in this country for our military is to protect the taxpayers, protect United States of America. Don’t give me this stuff about equal opportunity, because that’s not what this military is.”
“Our military is becoming so political that we’re going to go south when it comes to readiness,” he also warned, despite having been warned repeatedly that his military holds are negatively impacting military readiness, and are expected to do so for years to come.
But as CNBC reported, America’s military “is an equal-opportunity employer, and the Pentagon has an ‘Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.'”
Senator Tuberville has a history of making extremist remarks, so much so that in a rare move, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in July delivered a speech on the Senate floor denouncing Tuberville by name, along with his “one-man mission to defend white nationalism.”
Earlier this year Tuberville insisted that white nationalists are simply “Americans,” and said, “I look at a white nationalist as a, as a Trump Republican. That’s what we’re called all the time.”
As NCRM reported in May, those remarks came immediately after an NBC News reporter told Tuberville, “A white nationalist propagates Nazism, a white nationalist could be someone who doesn’t believe that Black and Brown people are equals…”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, criticized Tuberville late Tuesday night, responding to the Alabama Republican’s interview with Bloomberg.
“The way Sen. Tuberville talks so openly about about white supremacy is just jaw dropping,” Sen. Murphy said. “I refuse to allow this to feel normal.”
Watch Tuberville’s remarks below or at this link.
Why did @SenTuberville vote against the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs?
“I heard some things he talked about, about race and things that he wanted to mix into the military,” he told @BloombergTV. “Our military is not an equal opportunity employer.” pic.twitter.com/avFStO79Af
— David Gura (@davidgura) September 27, 2023
McCarthy Blocks Bipartisan Bill Approved by 77 Senators to Avoid Shutdown as He Moves to Pin the Blame on Democrats
Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy is saying he will not allow the House to take up a compromise bill supported by a large and bipartisan majority of Senators that would allow the federal government to continue operating past the midnight Saturday deadline.
“I don’t see the support in the House,” for the Senate’s proposed continuing resolution, McCarthy said on Wednesday, according to Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman. He also reports that “this is the most explicit he’s been” in saying “he won’t take it up and pass it as is.”
Chad Pergram, the Senior Congressional Correspondent for Fox News reports, “McCarthy says he won’t allow the House to consider the Senate’s stopgap spending bill to avert a gov’t shutdown for 45 days. 77 bipartisan senators supported the package on a test vote last night.”
Earlier Wednesday, inside the House Republican Conference’s meeting, Sherman reported that Speaker McCarthy “said he told” Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “that he cannot take up a bill that funds Ukraine and doesn’t fix the border.”
“In other words,” Sherman adds, “if it wasn’t clear, the CR [continuing resolution] the Senate is taking up is dead on arrival in the House.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans, and especially Speaker McCarthy, are attempting to blame the likely shutdown on Democrats. House Democrats, Senate Democrats and most Senate Republicans have been working to avert a shutdown but Speaker McCarthy’s most extreme members have been pushing to shut down the federal government. Political observers say he could keep the government running by putting together a majority of House Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans to pass a continuing resolution, but would likely lose his Speakership as a result.
“A shutdown would furlough millions of federal employees, leave the military without pay, disrupt air travel and cut off vital safety net services, and it would be politically punishing to lawmakers whose job it is to fund government,” the Associated Press reported Wednesday. “The Republican McCarthy, pushed by a hard-right flank that rejects the deal he made with Biden and is demanding steep spending cuts, showed no interest in the Senate’s bipartisan effort — or the additional money for Ukraine.”
“’I think their priorities are bad,’ he said about the Senate effort.”
Political pundit and journalist Bill Kristol, a Republican who became a Democrat in 2020, Wednesday afternoon pinned the expected, coming shutdown on Speaker McCarthy.
“One man, Kevin McCarthy, is responsible for the looming government shutdown, because he won’t bring to the House floor a funding bill supported by a majority of senators from both parties, the administration, and a majority of House members. It’s the Speaker’s Shutdown.”
Wednesday morning, The Washington Post reported, “Facing a potential government shutdown in four days triggered by House Republicans’ inability to unite to pass spending bills, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is trying out a new strategy: shifting the blame.”
“McCarthy is starting to point fingers at Democrats in a bid to pin a shutdown on disagreements over border security. It’s an attempt to rewrite the record of the past several weeks, during which House Republicans have been unable to pass a short-term bill to prevent a shutdown — even one that includes the border security policies his conference overwhelmingly supports.”
Image via Shutterstock
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