Article Title:Out Takes spotlight: The Rugby Player
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:25th May 2014 - 09:27 am
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Story ID:15137
Text:The powerful story of gay rugby player and likely hero Mark Bingham opens at the Out Takes Film Festival in Auckland today. His mum, and The Rugby Player’s director, each offer their thoughts on the man, and the movie. Buy Out Takes tickets here Bingham is believed to have been one of the passengers who stormed the cockpit of United Flight 93 during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The gay world’s equivalent of the rugby world cup is named in his honour. The Rugby Player is full of footage of a young Bingham, thanks to the fact he and his friends were budding filmmakers. Also at its beating heart are the memories, love and courage of his mum Alice Hoagland, who has kindly shared her thoughts on the film and her son’s legacy for Alice Hoagland and Mark Bingham How important is this film to you? I am only beginning to realise how important this film is to me personally, and how important it can be to all who view it. I was touched by the dedication this team of documentarians had to their task: making a coherent statement out of the crazy patchwork quilt of my son’s life, and mine. The film moves gracefully through Mark’s life, and because of the skill of its makers, it knits meaning into Mark’s crazy moments, and mine. Because we are still fighting for LGBT equality and rights, I have high hopes for one of the messages of this film: LGBT rights are human rights, and every human has the right to live life as fully as he or she possibly can. Was there any further healing for you in helping make it? Yes, indeed. In fact nowadays “The Rugby Player” is an antidote to my gloom. I see Mark Bingham onscreen, and I feel for a little while as though he were alive again. What do you hope viewers take from it? Excellent question! I hope all who see “The Rugby Player” benefit from having seen it. I hope mothers and fathers come away with gratitude for the richness that their own children – gay or straight - have brought to their lives. I hope young people see Mark Bingham as a friend and older brother who has looked life in the face, and can help them to take that same long look. I hope we all are moved by the wondrous effect one human being can have on the lives of others. I hope, too, that viewers are impressed by the urgency and gravity of our unfinished business from 9/11. All of us in the free world face the threat of Islamist terrorism and repression. And all of us are in the fight together to make sure freedom and democracy remain triumphant. How do you think Mark would like to be remembered? Oh, I think he’d like to be remembered as a guy who charged in and helped out. It looks like you have adopted a ton of gay rugby playing sons?! What does it mean to you to have the Bingham Cup named after your son? And you must be proud to see how it keeps growing and growing? I’ll say! I just adore what the Bingham Cup has become! It has grown from six or seven teams to forty or more teams, I think, from twelve or so countries in the world. And all those teams have hard-working, loving, dedicated men (and women!) who hope, by their individual efforts, to advance the game of rugby and the causes of the LGBT community. I’m really looking forward to the seventh Bingham Cup in August in Sydney, hosted by the Sydney Convicts, those crazy guys! The young men and women who play gay rugby, and all their friends and supporters, are doing their part to push LGBT equality toward the goal line. Do you think he’d be proud of the progress being made in professional sports, particularly in the States, when it comes to gay players? And the progress of marriage equality? Yes, I believe Mark would be very proud and happy to see just how far we’ve come to create a world that is accepting of gay men and women in professional sports. And although he and I didn’t discuss it much, I believe Mark would be just thrilled to be able to marry the man of his choice, and tell the world “This is the man I love. This is the man with whom I’m committed to sharing my life.” Do you have any message you’d like to share with parents of gay kids? Yes! I hope you all enjoy “The Rugby Player.” I hope you realize just how important you are to your child’s happiness – just how much your acceptance and open minds mean to your LGBTQ child. Be patient with yourself. Your child very gradually became aware of his/her sexual orientation, and now that he/she has shared that very important part of his/her personality with you, you can’t be expected to understand, accept and embrace the full significance of it within a few moments – or even a few months. Give yourself some time to get used to the idea, and to realize the special gift your child has given you in his/her act of confiding in you. Give yourself time, and in the meantime, work hard to educate yourself to embrace your LGBT child. (Thank you so much to Alice Hoagland - from The Rugby Player’s Director Scott Gracheff tells us why he was drawn to Mark Bingham's story: Scott Gracheff Why was it so important to tell this story? In the days following 9/11, like everyone else, I was glued to the TV watching the endless media coverage. But at the time I had not heard the name Mark Bingham. It wasn't until early 2002 when I met Todd Sarner, Mark's childhood friend and content advisor for our film, that I began to learn about Mark's story. One of the elements that drew our team to the story was the fact that Mark was an amateur documentarian and had filmed most of his life from age 16 to a month before he died. Todd had access to all of this footage so the idea of being able to tell someone's story in their own words was intriguing. This is a story about love, about courage, about the importance of family. And once we got to know Mark's friends and family, we knew it was a story that needed to be told. How amazing a woman is Alice? Alice is an amazing woman. Working with her has been an incredible experience for all of us on the filmmaking team. She was so trusting and open with all of us and we owe her so much for that. Having never met Mark, I think Alice gives you a good sense as to the kind of person Mark was. And I think spending time with her gives you insight into Mark's personality, humour, charm and strength. As one of Mark's friends says in the film, Mark got it from somewhere and he got it from her. Children learn by example and what better example could a child have than Alice. How important is she to the film? When we first started shooting this film in late 2002, we took the approach that often one does in documentary, which is a journey of exploration and discovery. After working on the film for a few years we realized that Alice was key to telling our story. We knew we had the opportunity to tell a beautiful and inspirational mother and son story. Some people have even mentioned that film could be called 'The Rugby Player's Mother' and we love to hear that. Was it important to avoid the trap of somehow trying to further dramatize the horror and devastation of September 11? Did you decide to let the archival footage, audio and statements from Mark’s friends and family speak for itself about just how devastating it was? From the beginning of this process, we knew we did not want to make a dark and depressing 9/11 movie. And in many ways this film is not about 9/11. It's about love. It's about courage. It's about the importance of family. And Mark knew how to live. I think audiences are sometimes surprised by how funny the film is and how many big laughs there are. Mark was funny and wild and courageous. We wanted to present Mark in as honest and intimate way as we could. And thanks to footage he shot of his life. In terms of the details of 9/11 and Flight 93, we simply present an honest portrait of a man. We let the viewers decide what they think Mark's actions were on that flight. You must be delighted with the critical reception, and the response of audiences? The reception of our film has been overwhelming and humbling. And I think that speaks to the power of this story. Audiences are engaged on an emotional level and that's because the themes are universal. Everyone can identify with Alice and Mark. This film is not a gay story. It's a human story. What do you hope New Zealand audiences take from The Rugby Player? We hope there are many things New Zealand audiences can come away with after viewing this film. But perhaps the most important lesson we can pull from the film is the one Mark taught us, and he taught us by his example. To live life to the fullest and to live that life without fear...and yes, with courage. And Mark certainly did this throughout his life and certainly on the last day of his life. The world needs to see that when someone makes the decision to come out as gay and to live honestly and openly in society, and when they are met with love and support as opposed to intolerance and violence, they can grow up to be extraordinary individuals, and in Mark's case, they can even grow up to be heroes. The Rugby Player is showing at Rialto at 3.50PM today, and the screening will be followed by a Q Jacqui Stanford - 25th May 2014    
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