I will confess that I rolled my eyes when I opened my latest envelope from Philly-based indie distributor Breaking Glass Pictures, an envelope contained yet another in a growing number of LGBT-themed civil rights motion pictures. It wasn't the message that caused me to roll my eyes, but my fear that this would be yet another in the also growing number of low-budget, modestly made flicks with a tremendous heart and vision yet a disappointing final product.
Then, I started watching Breaking Through, an award-winning festival favorite written and directed by Cindy L. Abel that is one of the most profoundly moving and intellectually satisfying documentaries I've had the privilege of seeing. Breaking Through inspires and informs as it shares the stories of a number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government from across the country, including the first gay US Senator, Tammy Baldwin. The film, however, is far more than a documentary about politics or even about LGBT issues, though certainly both subjects are at the center of everything that occurs in the film. Breaking Through is about these people who happen to be young and old men and women who are both politicians and publicly open about being LGBT. What I find so deeply moving about the film is that Abel quite ably (sorry, couldn't resist) manages to balance both telling inspirational success stories while also giving equal time to a side of politicians rarely seen - vulnerable men and women longing to live meaningful lives yet, in many cases, believing their professional goals to be impossible because of their sexuality. It's a film about their fear, shame, insecurities, and how they broke themselves out of those cycles and overcame those obstacles to become respected and successful politicians.
I'm fairly sure I'm not alone when I express a certain degree of cynicism that envelopes my body whenever I even contemplate the notion of politics, and Breaking Through overcomes that cynicism by presenting these community leaders as human beings who broke through their barriers of race, gender, sexual orientation, and much more in order to impact lives and inspire people from all walks of life.
D.P. Michael Bruno's lensing excels in capturing the film's more vulnerable and revealing moments, but Bruno wisely avoids any cheap and unneeded gimmicks that could potentially pull heartstrings that don't need to be pulled thanks to these truly wonderful stories. Abel, a director whose entire professional vision is one of launching conversations and impacting popular culture, created Breaking Through as a response to the well publicized epidemic of teen bullying and suicide that has been in the news as of late.
In creating Breaking Through, Abel has created a film that acknowledges the struggle for civil rights while never letting go of the hope. From senators to city-council members, mayors to judges and much more, Breaking Through drives home the powerful message that truly, truly, truly anything is possible.
Breaking Through can be pre-ordered starting May 13th and hits the streets on June 3rd, 2014 with several special features on an extended director's cut release that adds 16 minutes of material to the film's 68-minute running time. For those seeking to inspire youth or for those interested in an uncommonly seen aspect of LGBT rights, Breaking Through is a must have for the collection.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic