Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Behind the Screen: Insight to Strengths.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the filmmakers from the CSWE 2013 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Here's how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award consists of a $500 prize and will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience. 

Filmmaker Jen Ackerman
Filmmaker Jen Ackerman explains below the genesis of her film Insights to Strengths, which sought to illuminate perspectives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals on what it means to be different (and read the transcript from the August 15 Twitter chat with Ackerman).

The strengths perspective framework is the backbone of social work theory. To take one’s hardships, obstacles, and misfortunes and focus on the positive brings about the kind of change that can actually last. The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender population is a community I call home. This documentary came about because I saw a lack of celebration for the strengths that come with this community. I was finding that much of media exposure for the LGBT population focuses on the negatives and unfortunate challenges. Although these are important to remember, there also are amazing qualities and characteristics to bring into the spotlight. My hope for this documentary was to highlight the strengths gained from the losses and barriers that come with an identity that strays from the majority.

I interviewed more than 15 men and women from the Orlando and Tampa areas to hear their stories. I want this documentary to reshape the way being different is viewed. I want others to see what I see--being who you are makes you unique and from that comes strengths and resiliency. I grew up in an environment of strict Catholicism and conservatism. I was taught through my schooling that being different is a flaw and that identifying as “gay” or “lesbian” was just out of the question. A big part of making this film was working on my own self-negativity toward my sexuality and finally breaking through the years of prejudice I survived. I am so proud of how this film turned out.

This film was created through the eyes of a social work student to spread the beauty and power of the strengths perspective.

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