Filmmaker Statement


From the Decision, by Justice Anthony Kennedy:

From the Dissent, by Justice Antonin Scalia:

"...for centuries there have been powerful voices to condemn homosexual conduct as immoral. The condemnation has been shaped by religious beliefs, conceptions of right and acceptable behavior, and respect for the traditional family... These considerations do not answer the question before us, however. The issue is whether the majority may use the power of the state to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code."

"The Texas stature undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are 'immoral and unacceptable' -- the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity... Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct."

Dear Viewers,

Kennedy and Scalia's opposing arguments offer the most striking examples to date of public and private debates regarding gay issues -- questions that have sparked fierce "culture wars" about whether homosexuality should be condemned, tolerated, or celebrated. With each skirmish, it becomes increasingly difficult for opposing groups to work together toward a common sense of social justice. Advocates of gay rights are confronted with the challenge of being regarded by their opponents as unruly, dangerous, and immoral. Conversely, those who oppose homosexuality have been viewed by gay rights proponents as fundamentally hateful and ignorant.

Family Fundamentals was motivated by a desire to address this deep divide. The film looks into the most universal of social institutions, the family, to explore interpersonal and ideological differences. It is not, however, a simplification of liberal versus conservative or secular versus religious, but instead, a two-way street where audiences can encounter opposing views in a thoughtful manner. I wanted to use personal stories as microcosms of the larger social and political struggles being fought in the public sphere and to offer a more compassionate perspective on an issue that continues to tear apart not only families, but also communities and our nation.

While there are certainly families that have resolved their differences, I chose the stories in Family Fundamentals precisely because they illustrated the difficult situations where intensely committed communities are in disagreement. I'm not interested in painting broad strokes; I'm not interested in presenting stereotypes. Particularly, I'm not interested in patronizing viewers. My films don't tend to offer easy solutions, but rather, they're more about asking hard-core questions, about encouraging audience members to participate in a dialogue and to perhaps seek answers on their own.

As a result of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike Texas sodomy law (and similar laws in 12 other states), public and private confrontations over homosexuality will persist with even greater intensity at places of worship, at school board meetings, in voting booths, in Congress, and in families -- this culture war is forging ahead for us all whether we chose to be a part of it or not. With "Family Fundamentals", I hope to touch hearts and minds -- to plant the seeds of change that may make it possible for equal justice to prevail -- these internal actions are what I hope for at the very least.

--Arthur Dong, Director
Los Angeles, 2003