Article Title:Doco Fest preview: Gayby Baby
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:28th May 2015 - 04:00 pm
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Story ID:16892
Text:In the face of squeals of “what about the children?!” in debates about marriage and adoption equality, Australian filmmaker Maya Newell has sought to answer that exact question. Her documentary Gayby Baby looks at the perspectives of children of same-sex parents. “We started making the film originally because in Australia, as you have also experienced in New Zealand, for the last six years six years or so we’ve had pretty ugly debate around marriage equality - which has meant that all pf the public figures and politicians have raised their head and repeated this argument that same-sex marriage is bad for kids, who need a mum and a dad,” Newell says. “Even though gay people can’t marry they have been raising kids for decades already. I am one of those kids. I really felt in that discussion there was a voice missing. It felt like everyone was talking about the kids and how they’d turn out or how your parents would bring you up, and no one was actually asking the kids.” Newell says it’s a film she would have liked to have seen when she was a kid. She believes we are in the middle of a generational shift, or what she likes to call a ‘Gayby boom’. “We’re at a really wonderful point in history. We’re really on the cusp of a whole new era of our larger lgbtiq story – and that is one where if you are queer, you can expect to have a family. It’s not something that’s a question anymore. It’s something you can completely go out and do and the laws are changing to allow that to be an easy option.” Newell says there are still lots of questions the public has about how kids turn out. “And we thought the best way to approach those concerns was just by inviting people in to our families. Have a look – meet the kids, meet the parents, make their minds up for themselves.” She says at its very core the message of the film is simple. “It really comes down to redefining what a family looks like in the 21st Century.” While we in our communities get it, Newell says we need to have conversations with the rest of society too. This film could be a useful tool for that. A credible Australian study found that our kids are doing just fine, and the real issues they faced were due to others’ bigotry. Newell’s film reflects that. “A lot of the conflict that arises is really from the outside. Not from within the family. If you’re child living in a world where you pick up the newspaper and see people debating same-sex marriage or politicians on the news saying they disagree with your type of family - that has an impact. And while sometimes it’s not necessarily as overt as being punched in the face in the playground by someone who is homophobic, it seeps into your self-perception and all sorts of things in other ways.” Newell on the other hand many of the kids are really resilient and robust when it comes to others’ opinions, and some even brag about having gay parents. It’s not a PR operation though. The filmmaker is clear it doesn’t try and present gay families as perfect all the time. “We simply stand up to some of that criticism from the outside world.” Newell says they want to use the film to try and inform and change social policy and would love to see it shown in schools to promote family diversity in classrooms in Australia. She and her cohorts will be looking at how that can be expanded across to New Zealand too. New Zealand gets to see Gayby Baby before Australia. It opens at the Documentary Film Festival tonight in Auckland at 6.15pm. Newell is here for the festival, and is keen to chat with people after the screenings, saying it will be a chance to gauge interest in whether New Zealand feels like the film can help social change here too.   Screening Thursday 28 May 6PM, Saturday 30 May at 2.45PM and Monday 1 June at Q Theatre in Auckland, then Friday 5 June, Tuesday 9 June, and Saturday 13 June at The Roxy Cinema in Wellington. Buy tickets here FREE EVENT DOC Talk: In conversation with Maya Newell Sat 30 May 1.00 - 2.00pm The Vault, Q Theatre Before Saturday’s screening Maya Newell will hold an informal discussion with the film’s Executive Producer, Billy Marshall Stoneking, discussing her experience of making the film and some of the key issues raised by it. Find out more about The Gayby Baby Project here   Jacqui Stanford - 28th May 2015    
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