In 1985 a young man was killed outside of a gay bar in Detroit. His boyfriend, Jeffrey Montgomery, was horrified to learn the police were not going to investigate the murder. To them, it was 'just another gay killing' and not worth the resources. In response, Montgomery co-founded the Triangle Foundation to fight anti-gay violence across the state. Undeterred by threats, sabotage, or being placed on the hit-list of the Aryan Nation, Montgomery publicly confronted politicians, law enforcement, the attitudes of local and national media, and ultimately challenged the movement itself to be more racially and sexually inclusive. By 2003, far from the coasts, Triangle had become the 4th largest statewide LGBTQ organization in the U.S.
On the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, the Detroit Film Theatre will present a preview and discussion of America You Kill Me, the new feature documentary about Jeffrey Montgomery. This live panel discussion will be moderated by Mark Erwin and include the films’ director Daniel Land, producer John Montgomery, and activist leaders Jeynce Poindexter of Trans Sistas of Color Project and Jay Kaplan of the ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project.
behind "America You Kill Me" the Jeffrey Montgomery documentary is honored to be part of the special event hosted by the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).
From Daniel Land, Director, “America You Kill Me”
We know that it’s been a while since we’ve had the opportunity to update folks on the status of “America You Kill Me”, the Jeffrey Montgomery documentary. Fortunately, we have been much better at making progress than we've been at communicating about it. So, this will be a bit long – but in short, things are going very well right now!
As you know, we were gearing up to finish the film a year ago, with a premiere set for the Freep Film Festival on 4/22/2020 - before Covid changed everything. It had also been accepted at the LA Queer Film Fest, which we hadn't even announced before everything was shut down. We decided to turn this into an opportunity to re-assess the edit, rethink the structure, and improve the film. That edit was dramatically re-arranged to become leaner and more focused. The film you will see in 2021 is far stronger than the one we would have been able to premiere last year.
This brings us to some major milestones:
Our new edit has been officially locked, and a few weeks ago the film was sent out to LA to our sound designer, Jimmy Dixon. The final Audio Mix is now underway!
Audra Kubat, a well-known Detroit-based singer/songwriter, and creator of our sound score is currently doing the final waves of recording and mixing for the original music. The score is going to feature a few unreleased instrumental versions of some of her most recent songs. These were originally used as placeholders, but they have worked so well that she is sculpting some of the remaining work around them. She wanted to share one of them, a song entitled 'Tear Out Your Eyes', as a download with you here:
We have been gradually upgrading animation, maps, motion graphics, and shooting new B-Roll to improve the illustrative visuals as much as possible. The licensing process is also underway, which means securing rights to use various archival photos and video.
This short video helps explain that process (we made this a few months ago as part of our last Facebook live stream event):
With the help of an unexpectedly cool new software tool, we have also been updating the entire film timeline from 1080p/2K to 4K resolution. 4K is the current industry standard - something distributors expect nowadays - but we started this thing 8 years ago, and most of the early material was shot on older cameras. Because of this, we had been resigned to simply do a 2K Master of the film, but the new tools have made it possible to upgrade that footage to 4K in an indistinguishable way. It’s taken some additional time, but we think it dramatically improves our chances of being seen by a wider audience, both in sheer image quality and by virtue of having the current 2021 technical bona fides.
Updates will be coming faster now. Please visit this website as well as our Facebook page often for the latest developments. On behalf of the “America You Kill Me” team thank you all so much for standing with us and supporting this project with your intention, generosity and patience.
So many of the battles depicted in this film continue to rage today, and the story of Jeffrey Montgomery and the Triangle Foundation are as relevant and vital to share as ever.
Jeffrey Montgomery, the focus of the upcoming documentary “America You Kill Me” was a man of many facets. A beloved brother, a steadfast friend, whose intellect, sense of humor, and incredible passion for civil rights led him on a life’s journey that profoundly changed the lives of thousands.
Although his awareness as a gay person began when he was very young it was a pivotal moment that changed him into a fierce warrior for LGBTQ civil rights and protections in America.
In 1984 his partner, Michael, was shot to death outside a Detroit gay bar, prompting Montgomery to engage in LGBTQ advocacy. He started work on LGBTQ anti-violence issues upon learning that the police were not spending many resources on solving the murder, "just another gay killing".
In 1991 Montgomery became the founding executive director of the Triangle Foundation and served until September 2007. Initially engaging in victim advocacy around LGBTQ violence and to improve the handling of LGBTQ-related cases, the foundation's work expanded to LGBTQ civil rights and advocacy, with projects for anti-violence, media activism, and legislative education on LGBTQ civil rights.
Within the movement, he was a staunch advocate for inclusiveness knowing that to create progress for LGBTQ civil rights the fight would need to include all sexually discriminated groups such as transgender people as well as black and brown members of the LGBTQ community.
Montgomery was widely quoted in media outlets on LGBTQ issues and high-profile LGBTQ-related crimes, such as the murder of Scott Amedure in 1995, and the murder of Matthew Shepard. Montgomery to attend the trials of Shepard's killers. In 2001, Montgomery was a featured participant in an A&E Network documentary about the Matthew Shepard case.
According to Cathy Renna, a friend of Jeffrey’s and communication director of the National LGBTQ Task Force in an ADVOCATE July 25th, 2016 article about Jeffrey’s passing:
“Without His (Jeffrey’s) involvement helping to unravel the “gay panic defense” I do not think we would have seen the important progress we did in the years that followed if not for Jeffrey’s hard work and dedication to the truth”.
“Jeffrey knew that our movement was one based on freedom and love, not fear and hate. He was a role model in his confidence and pride in who he was, in every way. He was fearless and honest about his own struggles with loss and addiction and quietly helped so many others deal with their struggles”.
Jeffrey Montgomery’s activities and honors over the years always were intertwined in his unceasing effort for LGBTQ civil rights right up to his untimely passing from a heart attack on July 18th, 2016. He was 63. Here, in part, are a few key moments.
Honors for Montgomery include:
These amounts are just suggestions. Any contribution is gratefully accepted. If you are interested in any of the Special Donor Levels listed below just enter "Any Amount" on the DER donation web page at the link provided above.
To help our final fundraising push we now have a fiduciary sponsorship with DER (Documentary Educational Resources) der.org, donors to the project can now receive tax benefits associated with DER’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Named in the credits as a Associate Producer.
Digital Download of the completed film.
Named in the credits as a Co-Producer.
Digital Download of the completed film.
Limited Poster Print.
Named in the credits as a Executive Producer.
All of the above.
We are proud to be a part of this year's Woodhull Foundation's Sexual Freedom Virtual Summit streaming event on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for more details on this important event.
A great discussion about Jeffrey, his work and influences from those who worked with him as well as insight into the upcoming documentary "America You Kill Me"
This original 5-minute short film screened at the 2014 Cinetopia Film Festival.
Listen to the WDET interview with Producer John Montgomery and Director Daniel Land about Jeffrey's documentary.
On March 25, 2020 the FREEP Film Festival organizers announced the following: "We’re sad to report that we are postponing the 7th annual Freep Film Festival, which was scheduled for April 22-26. While many details remain to be finalized, we plan to move the event to the first week of December".
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