The five year project two gay couples and two filmmakers started in California has finally come to an end.
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, together with lesbian couple Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, participated in a documentary in 2008 called The Case against 8, which documented the battles they both endured to get married. This year it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
The first African American U.S. president was elected the day the film started, November 4, 2008. This was also the day Californians voted on Proposition 8 which would outlaw same-sex marriages.
The state legalized gay marriage for only a few months before it was outlawed again, but over 18,000 same-sex couples had already wed. Immediately following, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) was formed and the first lawsuit was filed in May 2009.
The documentary’s filmmakers, Ben Cotner and Ryan White, decided to start filming thinking it might turn into something.
“We heard about the case very early on, before it was filed and we asked them about the possibility of making a documentary about it, without knowing that someday it would become a bigger case,” Cotner told the American Foreign Press (AFP).
“At the time, we had no idea that it would go all the way to the Supreme Court,” Cotner concluded.
The film follows the two couples who soon became the face of gay marriage in California, according to Global Post.
“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” Katami said. “Even though we’re ready, there is the weight of ‘I can’t mess this up. I have to represent so many people.’”
Not only did the couples not think the case would get so big, but they also had no idea they would “become the cement of the story,” White said.
“But on top of that, the idea of having a documentary crew following them probably was not they thing that they wanted most at the beginning,” White added.
The film also focuses on “The Odd Couple,” lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies.
The duo were famous for their legal battle on opposing sides in the 2000 election of George Bush over Al Gore, but came together “to fight for LGBT rights together,” White said.
Republican Olson faced criticism for his support of gay marriage, but said: “Marriage is a conservative value.”
“It’s two people who love one another and want to live together in a stable relationship, to become part of a family and part of a neighborhood and part of our economy,” Olson added.
On June 26, 2012 gay marriage was restored in California. The filmmakers had to maintain objectivity even through there were numerous joyous weddings.
“Two days later, we were at the weddings and that day was the hardest day to film because it was so hard for me to concentrate on the film,” Cotner said. “I just wanted to be a part of the wedding with them. I didn’t want to be a filmmaker at that moment. I wished I was just a participant at the wedding.”
The Sundance Film Festival wraps up this weekend in Park City, Utah.