In November 2015, Out in the Night filmmaker blair dorosh-walther updated POV on what's happened since the film was completed, and where Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain are now.
What has happened in the lives of Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain since the end of the film?
Since the film's premiere in June 2014 the women have been traveling throughout the country for screenings, Q&A, panel discussions and conferences. Renata has spoken to crowds as big as 2,000 people at the Color of Violence Conference as well as the first Black Lives Convening conference. Patreese ran a workshop at this years LGBT Task Force's annual Creating Change conference and Terrain spoke at Eve Ensler's annual One Billion Been Rising conference. All four of the women ran workshops at the University of California - San Diego Papadapolous annual conference as well as the 10th Anniversary of Black and Pink conference. Renata is the Key Note speaker this weekend at the Oregon Students of Color Conference!
In addition to speaking and traveling all four of the women are full time students. Renata is working towards a Master's degree in Social Work. Patreese is getting a liberal arts degree, but considering changing her major to Public Policy or Political Science. Terrain is getting a degree in Radiation Technology and also working full time for TSA in New Jersey. Venice received her cosmetology license and is now going back to school for a degree in Nursing.
They are are doing extremely well and are dedicated to getting their lives back to what they want to see. However, every step of the way they are met with deep challenges. They have all found it very difficult to get a job, especially a full time job. Housing has been a challenge as they not only have a felony on their records, they have a violent felony - a gang assault charge. School has been a life-saver in this way. They are using it to become more employable knowing they have to mitigate that felony.
Overall, they are doing well. But finding sustainable income has been difficult. You can read more about them at: http://www.outinthenight.com/meet-the-nj4/
How has the film been received in Newark and New York City?
Newark has been a bit of a challenge. Not that the reception has been poor, it hasn't, but it is hard to actively do outreach in Newark. We had a screening at the new Newark LGBTQ Center and only had a turnout of a handful of people. The women were quite disappointed. I think that Newark has so many uphill battles to climb, that it is hard to sometimes support positive things happening in the community. Patreese has been volunteering on and off for the Center and trying to spread the word to get more young folks involved with it. That being said, the women each just completed an interview for the Queer Newark Oral History Archives through Rutgers University. Rutgers - Newark has been amazingly supportive of the film throughout the many years of production.
New York City has been immensely supportive and engaging. We have screened a number of times, from the IFC movie theater to community organizations, to Universities. Every time the events are sold out! New York seems to have endless energy around supporting the NJ4.
To date the film has screened at close to 150 Film Festivals and colleges and universities. Many universities have said they are using the film as a way to discuss intersections of race, gender and sexuality. So many of our events on campuses are in collaboration with a number of different departments, which in tern makes for some very fruitful discussions.
Do you see any change or shift in the awareness and attention to media bias and problematic representations of people of color and the LGBTQ community since the end of producing Out in the Night?
I don't necessarily see a change in the way LGBTQ POC are reported about in the media, however I think there has been a slight increase in reporting. But it goes in waives. For instance there has been more reporting on the number of transwomen who have been murdered in 2015, but most of this reporting is through non-profits and social media, occasionally being picked up by more mainstream news outlets. The #BlackLivesMatter campaign has also been creating more visibility on LGBTQ folks of color as well. But in terms of mainstream or corporate outlets reporting with less biases, no, unfortunately I have not felt a shift yet.
In what ways have you seen or do you hope to see Out in the Night add to conversations about the US justice system, prison reform and policing in the US?
I want to see Out in the Night greatly add to conversations around criminal justice, reform and policing. I want to see the public debate on reform for non-violent or drug offenders expand to include violent offenses. It is important to remember that there are so many women behind bars who defended themselves against an abuser. So this conversation needs to greatly expand. I haven't seen it happen yet. But I don't think that means it won't. I think Out in the Night will continue to reach new audiences, especially now that the women are traveling much more with the film. I think hearing directly from them is key to getting more supporters speaking about intersectionality within the criminal legal system.
What are you working on next?
I have a number of projects that I'm interested to begin. One is a sculpture project that I have been yearning to begin for quite some time, so I'm excited to work with my hands a bit more. I am producing a project that I am very excited about called After Sherman and the aftermath of the Emanuel 9 in Charleston, South Carolina. And I have just begun my next documentary, Inherently Unequal, a constitutional history of the Supreme Court, specifically around the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.