Two Baton Rouge filmmakers will debut a documentary at the Louisiana International Film Festival called “Illusion Inclusion” — a 50-minute feature they say examines issues Baton Rouge leaders don’t want to talk about.
Speaking to the Baton Rouge Press Club, Phil Smith and Cleve Bailey said they hope their film sparks a larger dialogue about the parish’s high rate of HIV/AIDS, intolerance toward the gay and lesbian community, and how those issues affect Baton Rouge’s ability to flourish as a city.
“If we’re not going to be an open and tolerant community, if we’re not going to deal with the issues of equality, and if we can’t get city leaders, business leaders, the business community and others to get behind the issues of AIDS and equal opportunity, then we can’t expect our best and our brightest young people will say yes to Baton Rouge and make Baton Rouge their home,” said Smith, the documentary’s executive producer.
The film will be played in the first Louisiana International Film Festival, which opens Thursday.
In March, the filmmakers mailed a 17-minute clip of to various local political, business and religious leaders across the parish. Smith said he received some positive feedback via emails and phone calls from some of the film recipients.
Mayor-President Kip Holden did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
At the forefront of the video is a recap of a debate the two past Metro Councils have taken up over the One Baton Rouge resolution — a nonbinding resolution expressing tolerance of the community’s gay and lesbian residents.
The resolution failed in 2007 and then was reconsidered by a separate Metro Council in 2010 but was withdrawn by the sponsors for lack of support. Both times, the resolution drew the opposition of groups such as the Louisiana Family Forum, which lobbied aggressively against the resolution.
The film also takes note of a recent survey by the National Human Rights Campaign that ranked Baton Rouge’s local government at the bottom of 137 peer cities graded on LGBT equality.
Metro Councilman John Delgado called Baton Rouge’s poor ranking “despicable.
“We have to change our attitude and have an open discussion about this,” Delgado said. “That is bad for business. It might not dissuade some businesses from coming to Baton Rouge but it does dissuade some others.”
Councilman Buddy Amoroso disagreed, saying he doesn’t support “creating a new protective class” for the LGBT community.
“I’m old enough that I can remember a time in my life where there was a white waiting room and a black waiting room, but I just don’t see those types of walls or restrictions in this case,” he said. “I don’t think their assumption is a proper assumption. Members of the gay community are welcome in Baton Rouge.”
Lauren Hatcher, a spokeswoman for BRAC, when asked for comment, said the film was sent to their board of directors and they had not received direct feedback from them. But she added, “BRAC does support a tolerant community mindset and has for many years.”