A co-production of Image Theater and Breaking Branches Pictures, Fred and Emile is a touching and meaningful 24-minute short about Fred Riley and Emile Dufour, the first gay men to announce their marriage in the Lowell Sun newspaper.
You may be thinking to yourself "This must be some pair of young whippersnappers."
Okay, you're probably not thinking that. You probably aren't thinking what is actually true - Emile and Fred, an absolutely charming and refreshingly honest couple, are in their 80's now and are captured in the film recounting their lives as gay men long before society even gave a thought to the idea of gay marriage. The two men, only recently married, share the hurdles they've faced across the decades in a way that is revealing, entertaining, quite moving and occasionally even a bit funny.
The film is directed by Christian de Rezendes, director of Raising Matty Christian and Revealed: Portraits from Beneath One's Surface, and continues the filmmaker's long held devotion to telling authentic, richly human stories in a way that avoids histrionics and overt sentimentality in favor of shining the light ever so brightly on his subjects.
It would be nearly impossible to not completely adore both Dufour and Riley, whose ability to speak their truth is filled with more insight and gratitude than most of us can muster even on a good day is remarkable to watch even when they're telling stories that are from those long ago years when announcing that one was gay was nearly impossible without dire consequences. As I listened to their stories, I felt immersed in their life experiences and, perhaps, a little more determined to ensure that young men and women growing up and benefiting from their example would never have to experience the kind of judgment and hate that they did in those early years of coming out.
Fred and Emile may not necessarily win any new converts in terms of supporting LGBT rights, but it will most certainly add a warm, intelligent and meaningful personal story to the discussion.