Political Animals tells the story of the civil rights struggle of this century – the gay rights movement - through the eyes of four elected women - a group often left out of gay histories until now. Emotionally charged like its subjects, the film follows four ground- breaking lesbians who took the fight for the causes most personal to them and their communities off the streets and into the halls of government.
Fierce, determined, focused and passionate, these women had the courage and foresight to start the work of legal rights of the LGBT community, ultimately paving the way for other states across the nation. Bills they authored included the first domestic partnership registry enacted by a legislature, the first anti-bullying bill protecting gay students and many more. It was a hard fight – filled with surprisingly heated debates and hateful insults hurled by opponents. This film shows how their legislation brought about change in laws and societal acceptance, the strategies behind this incremental change, and what tough bargains had to be made to get us to where we are today. While legislators often follow the will of the people, these visionary women were brave pioneers in creating lasting and significant social change.
THE FILM MAKERS
Jonah Markowitz - Producer/Director
Jonah Markowitz recently finished post-production on the forthcoming documentary film “Political Animals.” Previously, he was an artist in resident at the San Francisco Film Society, where he completed the screenplay for his next feature film “Start At The End.” Markowitz wrote and directed the critically acclaimed narrative feature film “Shelter” which was released theatrically by Regent Entertainment and was named “The Number 1 Gay Film of All Time” by AfterElton.com on their bi- annual poll. Shelter won the HBO Award for Outstanding First Feature, The Scion Director’s Award, as well as audience awards in New York, Vancouver, Sao Paulo, Melbourne and more. Previously, Markowitz wrote and directed two short films, “I Left Me” and “Hung Up”, which screened at over 40 festivals worldwide and were both programmed at The American Cinematheque in Los Angeles.
Markowitz also has a background in production design. His most recent film, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”, premiered at Sundance 2015 and won the Grand Prix at Berlin. His credits also include the Sundance Jury and Audience Award winning “Quinceañera”, as well as Studio films such as “We Are Marshall”, “The Help”, and “The House of Sand and Fog” and the upcoming “A Futile and Stupid Gesture”.
Jonah graduated from the Film department at Emerson College and also studied art history in the Netherlands, as well as film theory and production at FAMU in The Czech Republic.
Tracy Wares – Co-Director
Tracy Wares is a documentary filmmaker and television producer with over 15 years of experience on five different continents. She produced and shot “Bomb It”, a theatrically released featuredocumentary about graffiti around the globe (Tribeca Film Festival 2007). She also field produced the 3D IMAX documentary “Under the Electric Sky” (Sundance 2013), co-produced “Smokin’ Fish” (PBS and IDFA 2011), was cinematographer for “Gay Republicans” (AFI’s Audience Award 2004), and shot on “Transgeneration” (Sundance Channel 2005).
Wares began directing documentaries with “Royal Drag” (1998), about the drag ball scene and its history in San Francisco. She went on to live and work extensively overseas; including India were she filmed and directed the documentary “Shakti” about women’s roles and agency in Hinduism, and Thailand where she made “No Childhood at All 2” about child soldiers in Burma. She later returned to India as a Clinton Fellow to focus her skills on training citizen journalists.
More recently she’s directed and produced videos for VICE; including documentaries about foie gras and bluefin tuna for the series “Politics of Food” (2014-15), maternity leave and the abortion pill for the series “Ovary Action” (2015-2016) and “The Last Lesbian Bars” (2015). She is currently supervising producer for VICE’s women’s interest vertical BROADLY.
Wares’ work has aired on ABC, PBS, CW, TNT, Sundance, Nat Geo, Discovery, A&E Bio, WeTv, Trio, TLC, and VICE. One of the few women in the industry who shoots and produces in extreme outdoor environments, she continues to travel the world making documentaries and television programming.
Carole Migden (CA Assembly 1996-2002; CA Senate 2004-2008)
A leader on the issue of domestic partnership, Carole Migden is a powerful champion of equal rights for all people, including the LGBT movement in California over the last 30 years. She received a Master of Arts in Psychology and was the Executive Director of a nonprofit serving LGBT with mental concerns when she first met Harvey Milk. Together, the two secured funds from United Way, marking the organization’s first donation to a LGBT cause. When Harvey Milk, was murdered, she felt compelled to take up the cause of her fallen hero. Migden was elected to the Board of San Francisco SupervisorsandchairedtheSFDemocraticPartyforeightyearsbeforemakingherway to Sacramento. She represented San Francisco in the State Assembly from 1996-2002, served as Chair of the State Board of Equalization in 2002-2004, and in the State Senate from 2004-2008. She became the first lesbian and the first woman to chair the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. While in office Migden also was committed to protecting state farm workers right and preserving the environment, but her background in community health and personal experience nursing friends during the AIDS crisis inspired Migden to take the lead in ensuring that domestic partners received access to health insurance coverage benefits. In 1999 with AB26, Carole authored legislation to institute California's domestic partner registry, the first time domestic partnerships were recognized at the state level without court intervention. Currently, Carole is a Political Consultant specializing in bringing female leaders into office and recently heightened her involvement in the Presidential election campaign for Hillary Clinton.
Sheila Kuehl (CA Assembly 1994-2000; CA Senate 2000-2008)
A former pioneering civil rights attorney and law professor, Sheila Keuhl was also once a child actress who starred in the “TheManyLovesofDobieGillis” televisionshow. Acharmingandcomposed woman able to deftly navigate the law, she won the “Best Oralist” award while attending Harvard law school. As the first openly gay person to be elected to the California legislature, she represented Los Angeles and Ventura County when she served in both the State Assembly (1994- 2000) and State Senate (2000-08). During the 1997–98 legislative session, she became the first woman in California history to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore. She was repeatedly voted the most intelligent member of the California legislature. Kuehl’s most notable contribution was the forward- thinking California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, which garnered national attention when it added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of prohibited bases for discrimination in publicly funded schools. Kuehl’s likeable character and integrity exemplifies the strategy of slowly winning over the establishment through a refusal to quit on the issues that mattered to her most. Kuehl is currently on the Board of Supervisors for LA County where she is working on issues including the homeless, public transportation foster care, education and HIV / AIDS awareness and treatment.
Jackie Goldberg (CA Assembly 2000-2006)
Jackie Goldberg is a teacher and public advocate passionate about civil rights and issues affecting the economically disadvantaged. At UC Berkeley shewasananti-waractivist, civilrightsand feminist movement leader and was a major player in the Free Speech Movement on campus, which led to her being wiretapped by the US Government. Her resolve to bring about social justice did not waiver as she moved on to teach for more than 18 years in the Compton Unified School District, became a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and was elected president of the Los Angeles School Board. She was also the first openly lesbian elected to the LA City Council where she authored the “Living Wage” ordinance. Going on to represent her county at the state level, she served in the State Assembly from 2000-06. There she authored the Domestic Partner State Law (AB205) in 2003 that provides same-gender couples with nearly the same rights and responsibilities of married couples. The issue of gay marriage affects Goldberg personally, as she has been with her spouse for over 30 years and they’ve created a family, adopting an African-American son. Goldberg’s frank and honest demeanor, with an emphasis on consensus building, has gained her respect as a community organizer and helped advance issues of progress and equality affecting gay families. Jackie is currently working in the Teacher education program at UCLA in the Social Justice program and donates her time advocating for Arts education in public schools.
Christine Kehoe (CA Assembly 2000-2004; CA Senate 2004-2012)
Christine Kehoe’s main strength liesinherabilitytoreachacrossdivideswithhercongenialand encouraging demeanor. Not considered a “movement” type, she believes that equality can’t be legislated from above but instead must come from working closely with people from one’s community. Kehoe honed her political organizing skills in 1986 as she lead San Diego’s “No on 64” campaign against a measure that would have quarantined people infected with HIV. She represented San Diego in the State Assembly from 2000-04, and in the State Senate from 2004-12. An Irish Catholic in a conservative part of California, she has managed to engage parties on all sides of the table to create meaningful change. Kehoe worked tirelessly for the needs of her constituency, including authoring numerous resolutions to encourage the US government to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and working on creating a LGBT Veterans memorial. Christine is currently the Executive Director of The California Plug In Vehicle Collaborative, where she advocates for climate change and clean vehicles for California.