Film: ‘Wand’ Captures Turning Point in Pride History

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The filmmakers behind the short film “Waving a Wand” (screening June 29 with the documentary “Jeanne Cordova: Butches, Lies, and Feminism” as part of the City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride programming), were originally out to shoot a music video with a song they wrote to celebrate an equality milestone.

Same-sex marriage was law, LGBT acceptance appeared to be growing across the country, and the Los Angeles Pride Parade, founded a year after the 1969 Stonewall riots, seemed the perfect opportunity to capture another defining moment in history.

That changed, literally overnight.

While the 4-minute film still defines a turning point in LGBT history, it’s not what West Hollywood filmmakers Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges, of Traipsing Thru Films and LGBT Hollywood, had in mind.

“Pride 2016 was on track to be the celebration of all celebrations,” said Godges. “But the LGBT world changed that June morning, and gave us a stark reminder of the real meaning of the pride parades.”

Click image above to watch “Waving a Wand.”

The night before one of the largest public festivals in the nation that annually packs tens of thousands of LGBT people and supporters along Santa Monica Boulevard, a mass shooting at the predominantly gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL killed 49 people. The next day, the morning of the LA Pride Parade, police arrested a suspect carrying weapons and explosives, who was reportedly on his way to the parade.

“ ‘Waving a Wand’ was meant to be campy and fun, sprinkled with sarcasm to the right-wing,” added Sotile. “That morning the film took on a whole new meaning.”

With the uncertainty of the current Administration and the call to renew legislation that could negatively impact the LGBT community, “ ‘Waving a Wand’ now stands as a symbol of resistance,” says Godges. “The song and ‘dance’ of ‘Waving a Wand’ is a reminder of the omnipresent roots of the parade. It rose from marches and protests, and although we gloss that over with glitter and celebration, especially LA Pride, the reality became unavoidable last year. We are still under attack.”

The filmmakers want the film to offer a clear message: “We refuse to surrender our Pride and Spirit.”

Indeed, “Waving the Wand” shows that the determination and pride being exhibited that day were not diminished. As planned, Sotile and Godges simply let the cameras roll, as actor-singer Stefan Kalinka stepped into the role of the wizard and let the opportunities along the way dictate the action.

Prophetically, the short film captures some of the key faces at the forefront of the push for LGBT rights today: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Congressmember Adam Schiff, former NBA star Jason Collins, Attorney Gloria Allred, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, and long-time activist Jewel Thais-Williams.

The filmmakers are not strangers to activism and covering hot-button issues. Sotile began her career as a cameraperson for LA’s Channel 9 news and then CNN, and Godges was in Los Angeles radio, before they formed their own production company in 2000.

“This film is the perfect example of “Traipsing Thru Films,” laughs Godges. “We traipsed in and out of the parade. Shot guerilla style. We did have a planned shot list but went into it like any documentary and stayed in the moment grabbing people and action on the spot.”

The film had its World Premiere at the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, India this past week, “which is so perfect,” says Sotile, “it’s Bollywood!”

Read about more One City One Pride events coming in June 2017.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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