Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
This 64-minute documentary, winner of the "Audience Award" at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, details the hurdles that determined teenager Kelli Peterson had to confront when she decided to organize a Gay-Straight Alliance at her Utah high school in 1996. After both the school board and the state legislature made efforts to bar the Alliance from the school, the teens drew national attention as they continued to fight for their rights. Peterson, her family, and friends are interviewed by filmmaker Jeff Dupre, who put the situation in perspective with five historical segments, presented chronologically yet intercut with the modern-day Utah conflicts -- the secret diary of 17th-century Puritan clerk Michael Wigglesworth; the 19th-century "marriage" in Boston of novelist Sarah Orne Jewett and socialite Annie Fields; the 1924 organization in Chicago of the first American gay rights group; Bayard Rustin and his role in the Civil Rights movement; and the work of activist Barbara Gittings during the '50s and '60s. Actors Stephen Spinella, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cherry Jones, Edward Norton, and Leland Gantt deliver the narration for these historical segments through readings of letters and diaries. Filmed in 16mm color and black-and-white, Out of the Past was shown at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.
gay/lesbian-rights, conflict, student, Civil-Rights, activism, discrimination, alliance