On Tuesday night at 9 pm the documentary One: A Story of Love and Equality, directed by Montclair’s own Becca Roth made its NJ Premiere at the Bellevue theater as part of the Montclair Film Festival. The film chronicles Roth and her partner Melina Marini’s efforts to understand both the supporters and opponents of North Carolina’s 2012 amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage in the days leading up to the vote.
Roth used interviews to paint a very human picture of gay and transgender couples in North Carolina—some together for decades—as they mobilize to fight the passage of the amendment and deal with issues that all couples face, such as preparing for the birth of a child or caring for a partner struggling with dementia.
Her earnest efforts to profile proponents of the amendment are initially thwarted by one organization’s email blast to amendment supporters warning of an “unfriendly media person named Becca Roth.”
Undeterred Roth and her partner ultimately engage supporters of the amendment and talk to them about their motivations. She succeeded in depicting them as people and not zealots despite their bible-driven rationale for opposing gay marriage. One of the supporters’ main arguments was that gay marriage would hurt the institution of straight marriage.
When asked about that concept at a post screening Q&A, Roth offered this insight. “Possibly people would think it would demean their marriage because they don’t have a positive understanding about homosexuality. They think this union I have that’s so sacred to me, if any sinner can do that then that demeans my marriage.”
One of the more remarkable parts of the movie was the relationship Roth and Marini developed with Ramona and Buddy two strong supporters of the anti-gay amendment. “I didn’t expect that at all,” Roth said. “I didn’t expect to become so close to everybody. Watching it is just so emotional because we actually had such close connections to everybody. It was especially interesting with Ramona and Buddy because we became very close with them.”