Magazine Feature / People

DU filmmakers produce documentary about Soulforce march

Shot by shot and edit-by-edit, the makers of the documentary SoleJourney hope to shed light on how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are speaking out against religious and political oppression. 

University of Denver employees Sheila Schroeder and Kate Burns are life partners and co-directors and co-producers of the film. Schroeder is an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communications and Journalism Studies. 

“I want to get people on screen who generally don’t have a voice,” Schroeder says.

For the past three years, Schroeder and Burns have filmed the activities of a group called Soulforce. The documentary begins as hundreds of people dressed in white T-shirts walk to the property of Focus on the Family, a faith-based ministry in Colorado Springs, to talk with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

“When we bring our truth to our adversary, we do so in a loving way,” says Chris Hubble, Colorado’s Soulforce organizer.

Burns, who is a program assistant in DU’s Digital Media Studies program, began filming in 2005. She and Schroeder have since followed two other actions of Soulforce, one a 65-mile march from the state capitol to Focus on the Family. 

“Doing justice work that is guided by nonviolent principles feeds my soul,” Burns says. 

“With Soulforce I get the privilege of standing up against injustice with integrity,” she says. “I don’t hurt anyone, including my adversary, and I feel better about myself after I say ‘no more!’”

While viewers of the documentary see marchers dressed in bright orange shirts walking along Highway 83, the filmmakers intersperse the video with personal stories, such as those of Lewis Thompson and Laurin Foxworth, who marched five miles despite the 103-degree July heat. 

“He’s already had one mini-stroke and so I was concerned about him, in fact, I was wondering if this was the right thing to do,” Thompson says. 

Burns was moved by march participants Ken Lewis and Jamieson Allen, two gay fathers who brought their 7-year-old son and their 3-year-old triplets to the walk. 

They “took time out of their incredibly busy lives in Georgia to shuttle four little boys to Colorado and stand together as a family,” Burns says.

Burns and Schroeder are in the midst of editing the final portion of the documentary, which will be entered into film festivals. Schroeder says her experience as a filmmaker makes her a better professor because she is using the same equipment and technology that her students use.

“Everything I do, I bring back to the classroom. My work feeds into teaching,” Schroeder says.

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