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As a collaborative art form, filmmaking can often lead to dissatisfaction among parties involved in the creative process. When the art holds a very special place in the heart of someone involved, that tension is only amplified. This was the case with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Ron Nyswaner, and his dissatisfaction with his recent film Freeheld.
An openly gay man, Nyswaner spoke on behalf of the LGBT community at the recent Vanguard Awards in Los Angeles, and slammed his producers’ negative influence on a project, which we believe to be Freeheld:
One of my recent gay-themed projects had a lot of potential. But the producers became fearful. The gay characters were idealized. Their edges were smoothed out. The conflict between them was softened. Over my vigorous objections, by the way, for the record.
This revelation comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which reports that Nyswaner used his speech as a platform to admonish Hollywood for its depiction of homosexual characters. Instead of balanced, well-rounded human beings in possession of their own flaws, the gay characters in Freeheld are "normalized" to the point where the truth to their humanity has been removed. Essentially, they were turned into average people devoid of the nuance that Nyswaner intended for them in his screenplay. Nyswaner would go on to say that he will no longer allow himself to be attached to projects in which he does not have the authority to prevent this from happening to his characters.
Freeheld is a true story about a lesbian couple – played by Julianne Moore and Ellen Page – fighting for equal rights over pension benefits when Moore’s character is diagnosed with lung cancer. You can check out a trailer for Freeheld below for yourself and see if Ron Nyswaner’s comments seem valid:
The LGBT community is one that has only recently begun to see an influx of stories entered into the world of mainstream cinema; in eras gone by, films and television programs like the original Star Trek completely shied away from the controversial topic. As such, with no hard and fast rules established, it would seem that many filmmakers do not necessarily know how to tread in these uncharted waters for fear of being deemed offensive. Even some films – which attempt to provide a progressive slant on the matter – can sometimes be viewed as offensive in certain circles (such as Dallas Buyers Club in 2013).
Freeheld hit theaters on October 2 of this year. In addition to Moore and Page, the film also starred Michael Shannon, Steve Carrell, and Josh Charles. We will keep you posted on any and all developments associated with Nyswaner’s comments as they become available.