By Debra Chasnoff, President/Senior Producer | blog, Choosing Children, LGBT
We are fast approaching the 30th anniversary of Choosing Children, GroundSpark’s first film (from back when we used to be called Women’s Educational Media). To celebrate, we are releasing a newly mastered version of this historically significant documentary on DVD.
The DVD also features in-depth interviews with me, Kim Klausner—the co-producer/director of the film, and attorney Donna Hitchens. “The Back Story” explores what we went through in the early 1980s to be able to find the pioneering women who had found ways to become mothers as out lesbians and capture their stories on film.
We are delighted to be able to share this DVD with you, our GroundSpark friends and supporters, before it goes on sale to a wider audience.
It’s been quite a journey to get to the point where I can actually hold this Choosing Children DVD in my hands. Many years ago we learned that the film storage facility where the original 16mm negative of the film had been housed had gone out of business–without tracking us down to return the master!
That set us off on a quest to preserve the film. First, we were selected by the Women’s Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film and Television for a small restoration grant. Then, the Outfest Film Festival Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation decided to fund the complete restoration. Working with the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Legacy Project used one of the last remaining relatively pristine film prints, housed at the Library of Congress, to construct a new 35 mm film print.
In 2010, GroundSpark produced a large benefit screening of Choosing Children in partnership with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere, Our Family Coalition, The San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Community Center, Frameline, and the Bay Area chapters of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Dozens of community members made generous donations that enabled us to transfer the new film print into a digital format for DVD. In the last few months, we have worked with Zoetrope Aubry Productions to create a beautiful digital transfer and master the DVD.
Kim and I also sat down on the other side of the camera to be interviewed about our adventures making Choosing Children and the impact of that process on LGBT culture and on our own personal lives. Here’s a little taste of what we are calling the Choosing Children “Back Story”, the part where we remember our very first screening, in Boston in December, 1984.
Now, Here’s where you come in! Can you help make sure this important chapter in lesbian feminist history is shared widely? There are many ways to get involved:
- Order a DVD or stream the film for yourself;
- If you are affiliated with a college or university ask the media center to order a copy or purchase an educational streaming license;
- Ask your public library to carry the DVD;
- Make a gift to help us reach out widely with news about the DVD.
Finally, I want to mark this moment with huge thank yous to many people and organizations that have helped keep Choosing Children in distribution all these years:
- Margaret Lazarus, who was the executive producer on the film and has distributed it via Cambridge Documentary Films until now;
- Frameline Distribution, which has also been a distributor;
- New Day Films, which now has taken over all educational distribution;
- Sue Chen, who co-produced “The Back Story” with me;
- All of the original families in Choosing Children, who bravely told their stories back in the day and helped us with the “where are they now” update on the DVD;
- and Noah Klausner Chasnoff and Oscar Chasnoff Klausner, the two people who were only a dream when Kim and I made Choosing Children but who, today, are the best living proof I can think of that changing the culture so that LGBT people can proudly parent was really a good idea!