Pennsylvania Festival To Screen Oscar Winning Freeheld

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NEW HOPE, PA (March 6, 2008) – New Hope Celebrates, a an incorporated non-profit gay and lesbian marketing organization, will give a rare showing of Cynthia Wade’s Oscar-winning film “Freeheld” on the big screen on April 26. The documentary will serve as the centerpiece of the New Hope Celebrates film festival.

Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and a Special Jury Award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, “Freeheld” chronicles Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s struggle to transfer her earned pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree. The film depicts the media frenzy, political repercussions and advocacy campaign spurred from the real life drama of a lesbian couple facing an uncertain future.

“It is an honor to be one of the first venues for this important film so soon after its receipt of the Academy Award,” says Stephen Stahl, a renowned screenwriter and director volunteering as Chairperson for New Hope Celebrates Film. “The film demonstrates the power of community and what can be accomplished when understanding outweighs ignorance.”

Sharyn Keiser, New Hope Borough Council President, adds: “A diverse community with a long history of supporting individuals from all walks of life, regardless of sexual orientation, New Hope is the perfect location to show this meaningful film.”

Directed and produced by Cynthia Wade, “Freeheld” tells a personal story with much larger social implications. Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester spent 25 years investigating tough cases in Ocean County, New Jersey, protecting the rights of victims and putting her life on the line. She had no reason to expect that in the last year of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer that her final battle for justice would be for the woman she loved. With less than six months to live, Laurel refuses to back down when the Ocean County Freeholders deny her request to leave her pension to Stacie, an automatic option for heterosexual married couples. Alternating from packed public demonstrations to tender moments of Laurel and Stacie at home, “Freeheld” combines political drama with personal detail, creating a nuanced study of a grassroots fight for justice.

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