The Men’s Story Project: Building Strength, Creating Peace (California, 2009)
The Men’s Story Project: Out Loud! (Chile, 2013)
Filmed at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, California with a standing-room-only audience, this film shows the powerful debut of the Men’s Story Project – a raw, innovative performance and dialogue project exploring social ideas about masculinity for the purpose of health and justice.
[toggle title_open=”Hide Full Description” title_closed=”Show Full Description” hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”white”]Described by audience members as “groundbreaking,” “transformative,” “a gift” and “something that needs to keep happening,” this film highlights a diverse group of 16 Bay Area artists, activists, and first-time presenters, ages 22-60, boldly sharing stories about their lives through slam poetry, monologues, music and dance.The stories address expression of platonic love between men; impacts of homophobia on heterosexual men’s relationships with each other; struggles with religion, homophobia and HIV/AIDS; coming out to one’s parents; intersections of race, disability and sexuality; testicular cancer and personal wholeness; images of African American masculinity; a journey from perpetrating domestic violence to becoming an anti-violence activist; men’s public restroom rituals; spirituality and transformation inside San Quentin prison; transgender identity and gender fluidity; challenging a father’s racism; being raised without male role models; desire to be in a committed relationship; gratitude to lifelong mentors; and other subjects.Presenters include Robert Haaland, the first transgender candidate elected to San Francisco public office; Juan Cuba (San Francisco Women Against Rape); Leroy Moore (Sins Invalid); Galen Peterson (United Roots); and members of the Berkeley and San Francisco slam poetry championship teams.
“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
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“A film of cultural importance” -San Francisco Chronicle
“Deeply funny” -SF Weekly
“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 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” 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
Santiago, Chile. Spanish with English subtitles. 107 min. ©2013.
Filmed live at a popular theater in Santiago, Chile, this documentary shows the bold debut of “The Men’s Story Project: Out Loud!” The production highlights diverse Chilean men – celebrities, community leaders, and first-time presenters – sharing personal stories with unusual candor before a public audience.
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The stories explore social ideas about masculinity and gender relations, and links with topics including family relationships; substance abuse; bullying; the evolution of men’s social roles; domestic violence; homosexuality and the Church; transgender identity and LGBT rights; HIV/AIDS; fatherhood in the context of divorce; manual labor and classism; physical disability and self-actualization; gratitude to mentors; and the healing power of self-acceptance, community and love. Mediums include prose, stand-up comedy, dance, photography and video.The presenters include Coco Legrand – Chile’s most popular comic; Pedro Sánchez Melivilo, a leader of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche community; and Andrés Rivera Duarte, recipient of the Felipa de Souza Award of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.Educational goals of the production were developed on the basis of interviews conducted in Santiago with advocates, researchers, health care providers and health educators, regarding key links of masculinities with health and justice challenges in the country. These colleagues also provided feedback on presentation content as it was being developed.Educators may opt to show the film in full, or select from 13 stand-alone pieces, including 7-min director introduction. Pieces range from 5-16 min.
“Through the powerful art of storytelling, this incredibly moving film examines our societal beliefs about masculinity with rare authenticity and candor. Through their stories of struggle, resilience, and self-actualization, these men demonstrate that true strength comes from within. This film opens up an honest dialogue about what it means to “be a man” and how we can foster values of nonviolence, acceptance, and respect. This is the type of spark we need to catalyze a movement. I would love to see this project replicated in every city and town across the world—from New Delhi to Steubenville. Shifting social norms surrounding masculinity is crucial to breaking the cycle of violence.” –Esta Soler, President, Futures Without Violence
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“…Rarely has anyone the courage to produce such an important and heartfelt film with the participation of a live audience. Each narrative, from each of the men, was compelling and different, yet they came together like threads of wonder, beauty, sensitivity, doubts and strengths woven to form a cohesive and beautiful whole. Here, men tell their stories in a fashion so candid that it renders them compelling, and ultimately we can all relate to the issues they address, such as social justice, violence, health and mental health problems, and gender and sexual identity. This film is inspirational and can be used by teachers and students tackling these pressing issues or warming up for dialogues on the meaning of masculinity. The men in this film are all Latino, from Chile; they speak from a cultural perspective unique to their country of origin. Nonetheless, the struggles they narrate and solutions they found have universal appeal. As a professor of Social Work, I will certainly use this film in several classes and recommend that others do the same.” -Rogério Pinto, Associate Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work
“I laughed and I cried. The men in this film draw us into a deeply emotional experience, simply by sharing the raw stories of their lives…stories about poverty, violence and addiction, child abuse, sexuality and prejudice. But most importantly, they are all stories of the search for love – to love and to be loved. One after another, these men demonstrate a vulnerability we do not usually associate with adult men. The simple poetic honesty of their words, and the beauty of their emotional expressions challenge us to open our minds and our hearts to experiences of men and boys that we have learned to ignore and deny. Through the Men’s Story Project, Jocelyn Lehrer offers us a unique window into the complexities of masculinity and its painful impacts on boys and men, girls and women. Her introduction on this film is a brilliant example of a woman being an ally for the healing and liberation of men. In both process and content, this film helps us all recover our humanness. Witnessing these men telling their stories, we join them in the process of transformation.” -Steven Botkin, Ed.D., Executive Director, Men’s Resources International
“I have worked with men for more than 20 years, and am well aware of the need that we all have to tell our stories. I also know that there are very few spaces where we can do it safely and authentically. Historias de Hombres provides a moving and powerful example of men overcoming their negative socialization and their fear, and sharing openly about painful and joyful experiences in their lives. It is an inspiring model on how to conduct difficult conversations and start the journey of healing that we all need to undertake to create a better world.”-Juan Carlos Areán, Director, National Latino Network for Healthy Families and Communities
“The Men’s Story Project brings together very different men, all struggling with the similar challenge of overcoming harmful constructions of masculinity…In doing so, these courageous men explore…experiences that are connected to men’s socialization, including drug abuse, poor health seeking behavior, identity through sexual activity, machismo, delinquency, violence, and homophobia. In the end, each man shares his path of overcoming these challenges. They do so with humor, grace, vulnerability, pain, and honesty. These compelling men help us understand that we can overcome rigid societal gender norms. In doing so, they also remind us of what it means to be human, to know oneself, to be connected to others, to love, and be loved. -Andrew Levack, Director, U.S. Programs, EngenderHealth
“One of the many things I like about the Men’s Story Project is that it challenges us, as men, to explore our own masculinity in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways. This is the type of project that we, as men, need in order to expand our definitions of masculinity and deepen our connections to the people in our lives.” -Emiliano C. Diaz de Leon, Men’s Engagement Specialist, Texas Association against Sexual Assault
“Watching Historias de Hombres was a tremendous learning experience…The voices of the various masculinities expressed in the film invites us to pause and think. It encourages us to recognize the struggles of so many… for justice, equality, freedom. It encourages us all – members of a social body – to realize that each of us has much to do, say, or contribute in these struggles which are sometimes invisibilized… For those of us who work in the teaching of human rights, the film makes a great contribution about how we can teach from life and not just from books. Without question, this is a terrific work which should be spread widely.” -Ximena Gauche, J.D., Professor of Human Rights, University of Concepcion, Chile
“Trabajo como educador de salud mental en La Clínica de La Raza en Oakland California, y por mas de 15 años he venido dirigiendo y haciendo la facilitación de grupos de apoyo para hombres latinos. Quiero compartir la respuesta de algunos de estos hombres al ver las historias que vieron en el DVD: “Para mi fue interesante ver como las historias y experiencias de otros hombres latinoamericanos eran tan similares a las nuestras”… “Me impresiono la vulnerabilidad y el coraje de estos hombres”… “Necesitamos mas espacios como estos donde puedan escucharnos sin juzgarnos y con empatía…” A veces pienso que esta cabron ser hombre…” “Me emociono ver la respuesta del publico y también como los hombres se daban muestras de afecto entre ellos.” Estas son algunas de las reacciones que pude capturar al termino de la presentación de Historias de Hombres. De mi parte puedo agregar que es una herramienta valiosísima dentro del trabajo de sensibilización y concientización de roles de genero al mismo tiempo que permite de una forma humana, honesta y real el poner sobre la mesa un tema que concierne a todos los sectores sociales, y permite generar dialogos sobre nuevos modelos masculinos que nos lleven a buscar medios para la erradicación de la violencia.” -Juan Cuba, Community Educator, La Clínica de La Raza