Filmmakers' Names: Robbie Fisher and Jenni Smith (Co-Directors)
Film Title: Dear Mr. Bryant
In 50 words or less, what is your film about?
“Dear Mr. Bryant” is a timely social justice micro-documentary in which faith leaders from across Mississippi tell Governor Phil Bryant why “the nation’s most anti-LGBTQ law” isn’t welcome in the Hospitality State.
What was your motivation to make this film… why this film, and why now?
We came up with the concept of the film in October 2017 on the heels of a new anti-LGBTQ law being enacted in Mississippi. H.B. 1523 was initially signed into law by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant in April 2016, but for almost year and a half it was stalled by court battles, which the Governor hired private legal counsel to wage. We were stunned when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the 2016 injunction that prevented House Bill 1523 from becoming law in July 2016.
When the law went into effect, we knew immediately that we needed to produce a short film that would somehow tell another side of the story - a story of the Mississippi we know, a story of Our Mississippi. Since the law is so often described as a “Religious Freedom” law, we decided to feature Mississippi faith leaders who were moved to speak out about the harmful effects of the new law.
Was there anything strange, funny, interesting, sad, scary, or otherwise unusual about making this film?
We were extremely moved by the receptivity of the faith leaders in Mississippi who participated in this film and their strong feelings, thoughts and pointed honesty about the new law. While not surprising to us, the response was still quite overwhelming, affirming, and heartwarming.
What is your connection to Mississippi? If you don’t have one, why did you choose to enter your film into a Mississippi festival?
Both of us (Robbie Fisher and Jenni Smith) have lived in Mississippi for the majority of our lives and consider Mississippi our home. We have worked on various community events, campaigns, and film projects in Mississippi over the past few decades both together and separately. We hope to share our film with audiences around the nation and the world, but sharing the film with Mississippi audiences is our top priority.
Anything else you’d like the audience to know about your film?
We always want to be sure to give our heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in this project that is so close to our hearts. To our wonderful and talented crew, to the amazing and outspoken participants, and to everyone in between who helped make connections and who shared ideas: Thank You. This film would not have been possible without each and every one of you.
The film is available now for both public and private screenings. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule a screening.