Filmed in Berkeley, California with a standing-room-only audience, this film shows the powerful debut of the Men’s Story Project – a bold, innovative storytelling and dialogue project exploring social ideas about masculinity for the purpose of health and justice.
Described by audience members as “groundbreaking,” “transformative,” “a gift” and “something that needs to keep happening,” the film highlights a diverse group of 16 Bay Area artists, activists and first-time presenters, ages 22-60, candidly sharing personal stories via spoken word, monologues, music and dance.
“A film of cultural importance” -San Francisco Chronicle
“Deeply funny” -SF Weekly
The stories address topics including friendship between men; impacts of homophobia on friendship between straight men; struggles with religion, homophobia and HIV/AIDS; coming out to parents; intersections of race, disability and sexuality; testicular cancer and personal wholeness; images of black masculinity; a journey from perpetrating partner violence to becoming an anti-violence activist; men’s public restroom rituals; spirituality and transformation in prison; transgender identity and gender fluidity; challenging a father’s racism; being raised without male role models; desire to be in a committed relationship; and gratitude to lifelong mentors.
Presenters include Robert Haaland, the first trans candidate elected to San Francisco public office; Juan Cuba (San Francisco Women Against Rape); Leroy Moore (Sins Invalid); and members of the Berkeley and SF slam poetry championship teams.
Educators can opt to show the full film or select from 16 stand-alone chapters, including 10-min director introduction.
114 min. ©2009. Produced and directed by Jocelyn Lehrer, Sc.D.
“It is still relatively rare — and often startling — to hear men talk openly and honestly about experiences in our families, struggles (and joys) in relationships, violent victimization or perpetration, or anything else that leaves us feeling vulnerable — especially in front of other men. That is why the Men’s Story Project film is such an important contribution to the expanding work of engaging men at all levels of gender justice work: it speaks to our hearts as well as our minds, and beautifully brings together the personal and political aspects of these critical issues.” -Jackson Katz, educator and author in gender justice and violence prevention
“The Irish poet William Butler Yeats once wrote of a man “who ruffles in a manly pose, for all his timid heart.” The Men’s Story Project does something truly revolutionary: it allows men a space free of judgment and relentless gender policing, a place where they can finally tell their own stories in an unvarnished way. Enabling men to shed the “manly pose” and expose that “timid heart” may be among the most liberatory experiences of a man’s life. Beyond that, the Project promises even more: that once freed, men will continue to seek and speak their truths, joining with women and other men, to effect a transformation of the meaning of masculinity.” -Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology at SUNY-Stony Brook, and author/editor of over 20 books on masculinities including Manhood in America
“The Men’s Story Project film is a powerful and moving tool for sparking conversations about male socialization, the variety of masculinities men act out, and the roles that all men can play in building healthy and just communities.” -Paul Kivel, co-founder of Oakland Men’s Project; author of Men’s Work & other books
“The Men’s Story Project” gathers a wonderful array of men’s voices and stories – deeply moving, at times hilarious, and always thought-provoking. It was a big hit with the students in my college sex and gender course – they were inspired by the film to think about male privilege and pain, as well as the commonalities and differences among men. And most important, the film provided plenty of grist for us to ask together, ‘Just what is a man?'” -Michael Messner, Professor of Sociology & Gender Studies, U. of Southern California