Edie Windsor And Thea Spyer
Edie Windsor And Thea Spyer – In 2007, New Yorkers Eddie Windsor, 77, and Thea Spier, 75, planned to travel to Toronto, Canada, so they could legally marry after four decades together. When one of the wedding organizers introduced them to well-known documentarians and longtime partners Susan Muska and Greta Wolfsdtitter, the filmmaking duo quickly realized they had found their next project.
It premiered in 2009 at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco, four months after Spier’s death. Wolfsditter remembers sitting in the Manhattan apartment they shared with a smile. “It was a nice gift for Eddie,” he said.
Edie Windsor And Thea Spyer
It quickly became too much After Windsor was forced to pay $363,053 in estate taxes, she sued the federal government to recognize her exemption as Spier’s surviving spouse. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in her favor and struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in the process. The couple’s love story is captured so effectively
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Played a major role in the outcome As Musca put it, Eddie would say that the film was proof of his case that he had a relationship that could be called marriage.
The film documents Windsor and Spire’s remarkable romance and their struggle to thrive in the gay world. Despite the constant fear of being outed, the two women managed to maintain their careers—Windsor was a computer consultant at I.B.M. and Spier was a clinical psychologist. The beauties of the universe lived large, drank and danced in hot underground queer clubs, sunbathed in the Hamptons in the summer, traveled from Suriname to Venice, and loved each other passionately and devotedly. After Spier, a stunning beauty, succumbs to chronic progressive multiple sclerosis, Windsor stays by her side, caring for her and finding innovative ways to save her sex life. Gay rights, this may be the film’s greatest achievement: it portrays two septuagenarians—one with a disability—as fun-loving and over-sexualized life partners.
Muska and Alafsdottir have been making socially conscious films for the past 20 years, from their Emmy-nominated debut effort,
. The filmmakers told me about the love lessons they learned from Windsor and Spire and described some of the film’s revealing work.
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Susan Muska: By our filmmaker friend Brendan Fay, there was an organization called Civil Marriage Trails. It was like the Underground Railroad for gay and lesbian couples in New York. In 2007, while you still can’t get married in New York State, your marriage will be recognized if you were legally married elsewhere. So everyone was going to Toronto, and Brandon was in the middle with all the data and logistics. He told us that day that I met this great couple and I think you should meet them.
SM: Because we don’t want to just make a movie We interviewed many people
Go: We were at that stage where you’re creating your concept and we saw the potential to tell a great story through their love story. Since they were in their 70s, it gave us an opportunity to cover LGBT history and civil rights
SM: I’ve worked on a lot of LGBT stories for DykeTV in the 90s, so nothing new But it was very enlightening to spend so much time with people living in their oppressive, secret lives and underground social world. Eddie and Tha had to be really careful because they were very academically and professionally successful people and they were working in a world that believed that homosexuals had mental disorders. His reality became very clear to us when we were making the film Thi was expelled from Sarah Lawrence College after finding out he was gay. When I mentioned this to the school’s PR person, she said, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
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SF: Being a couple and working together must be a challenge Does your vision ever struggle? How do you reconcile your creative differences?
SM: We beat each other! I always want to include more information Better leave Greta We have a lot, until we find something we like Or, we just wear each other out
Go: When you’re making a documentary, if something doesn’t fit the story, no matter how much you love it, you have to cut it.
SM: Because we get so close to the material, we can’t just rely on our own judgment So we’re inviting our friends, who are editors and really great storytellers, for drinks and dinner to get their feedback.
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SM: In the 60s and 70s there were sex toys that you couldn’t buy because they were illegal
SM: They had to learn the words for the things they wanted to buy from other countries It is amazing that they actually lived during that period
Go: Another bit that was cut, but says a lot: When we were shooting a scene where they were swimming together, Thi was not more than a minute in when she had a stroke and went into cardiac arrest. Had to give medicine He had to leave the pool. We sat around him trying to make sure he was okay.
SM: After a few minutes, Tha recovered and insisted on going back to the pool because she knew we didn’t have enough footage. We didn’t want him It seemed very dangerous, but he said “No, you didn’t get what you wanted!” Like Eddie, Tha was a stopping power
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Go: It took a long time for Thea to come to us and get ready to do the film Also, there was a limit to how long we could interview him We always have to make sure we don’t go too long so it’s not boring
SM: A quadriplegic and can only move his head and one toe, everything depends on health and fitness support. We don’t do any exposure, so we are able to work with them on their own time, when they feel ready or when they have an initiative. We often forget that thinking actually had a limited time When we met her, she had less than a year to live and that was the inspiration for their marriage But as we got to know him, we were somewhat in denial about it – even though we were always reminded that we would have a heart attack and have to take medication.
Go: I can’t tell you how often we will forget her illness because of her strength and smile His personality was amazing Each of them was a force.
SM: Eddie would say that this film was proof of his case that he had a relationship that could be called a marriage I can’t speak for his legal team, but Eddie said, “You don’t have that emotional connection without the film.”
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Go: Who questioned their relationship status before the movie, not after watching it
SF: Did Eddie or Tha ask you to take anything out of the finished film that they didn’t like?
SM: But when we did an interview about Think’s background—his family were Jewish refugees from Holland—he called and said, you know, I really don’t like that interview. Want to add. And we have honored it
GO: We showed him at Frameline, a unique film festival in San Francisco before the film premiered, when Proposition 8 was on. We thought this was an important place to show it We wanted Eddie to watch the movie before because we didn’t want to surprise him at the crowded Castro Theater.
Edith Windsor, Gay Rights Activist, 1929 2017
Go: When we showed up, none of us knew what to expect, but we were a standout.
SF: You make films to effect social change Does it affect how you produce your films? For example So, were there any scenes you cut because they might have made Eddie or Thea less likable?
So we covered Eddie’s activism, his fight for marriage and the people who participated in that marriage When this film was made, we knew it could be used by various organizations to put a face on the issue of marriage we think
Which organization wants to show the film? Which libraries? Which university has which department? Eddie and Tha
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Featured in all types of law schools and nursing programs Through the film, we connected with organizations like Freedom to Marry, Marriage Equality and the ACLU. But the point is that all documentary filmmakers make films because they have an agenda You make a film because you feel strongly about it Otherwise, you won’t do it because you’re not going to make money!
SM: Primarily, we hear from older children of older gay parents who had secret love lives – either they knew about it or their parents only knew about it.
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