His latest project, the TV
special series “When We Rise” earns critical praise for its portrait of the Gay
Rights movement.

Dustin Lance
Black is one of today’s most insightful and inspiring filmmakers on the
subjects of LGBT rights, gender equality and inter-racial coexistence. He first
rose to fame in 2009 when he was awarded an Academy Award for his screenplay to
the film Milk. Since then, he has
achieved success as a film and television director, playwright, social activist
and commercial director on issues related to equality and activism.
His latest work
is When We Rise, a luminous four-part
ABC television series tracing the
history of the gay rights movement from 1972 through 2013. Black created,
executive produced, and wrote the script for the 8-hour drama, which
interweaves the stories of three San Francisco gay rights activists. He also
directed the 2 hour finale which has been lauded as a powerful conclusion to
the mini-series. Variety says that the show “shines when it focuses on youth”
and called it “resonant.”

Weekly described Black as one of the most important voices of his generation,
stating that he “demonstrates certain qualities that don’t come easily —
patience and the conviction that great change can always be affected, somehow.
His is an attitude that lies somewhere between optimistic and academic,
with roots deeply embedded in two key chapters of his story.”

Black’s work
in the commercial arena, produced in tandem with Los Angeles-based Bully
Pictures for major consumer brands, is no less illuminating on topical social
issues. For Tylenol, Black directed a commercial
featuring a variety of non-traditional couples, one a male couple with a
newborn child. “Family isn’t defined by who you love,” concludes the
voice-over, “but how.”
“I respond to stories that are impactful,
that can help people out,” says Black. “With Tylenol, I thought it furthered
the conversation. It’s not just about LGBT families; it’s about a whole slew of
families who might be treated differently because they don’t fit a certain mode.”
More ambitious is Black’s work for
Coca-Cola, which includes a series of three short films for Latin American
markets. Conceived by Pereira & O’Dell, the films center on teenagers
facing “crossroads moments” where friendship triumphs over cruelty. The first
two films deal with spiteful rumors, broken romances and misunderstandings that
are often deeply hurtful to young people. The third film, The Text, centers on the friendship between two Brazilian boys and
what happens when one learns that the other is gay.
“I direct these stories because I feel that
they can have an impact,” says Black. “Yes, they are selling a product, but you
can sell a product while influencing society in positive ways. These are
content pieces that are doing that.”
Black sees little difference between his
work as a filmmaker and as an activist. “To me, it’s one and the same,” he
explains. “Whether you are filing a Supreme Court case or making a film, it’s
all about storytelling. If you want to win in court, you need to tell your
story well and in an emotionally compelling manner. When you make a film, you
do the same thing.”
Coca-Cola “The Text”
“I’m turning
a mirror on the societies where these ads appear to show them what is already
there but isn’t often discussed or embraced in an open manner,” says Black. “I’m
reflecting back the best of what we are.”
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