Out in the Night

Gay African American women defend themselves against a violent sexual assault and are arrested for attempted murder.

Out in the night 01
Series
POV
Premiere Date
June 22, 2015
Length
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Doroshwalther blair filmmaker bio
Producer/Director

blair dorosh-walther

Director and producer blair doroshwalther (who identifies as gender non-conforming and uses both male and female pronouns) is a social issue documentary director, experienced production designer, and activist artist with a passion for inspiring social justice through media. blair graduated with a BFA in Film from NYU and was awarded the Adam Balsano Show more Award for social significance in documentary filmmaking for hir short documentary Metsi, on water privatization’s impact on women in a South African township. Hir short documentary Cry Don’t Cry, on bereavement experienced through the eyes of a diverse group of teenagers, won the National Health Information Awards’ Silver Award in 2005. Out in the Night has been recognized and supported by the Sundance Film Institute, Frameline, the Jerome Foundation, Women in Film Finishing Fund and NYSCA. blair was awarded the Joyce Warshow Award from Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, was a Film Independent Fast Track fellow, and a participant at the Sundance Producer’s Summit in 2012. blair has worked at Harlem United, a community-based organization providing care and housing to people living with HIV/AIDS. Show less

Chesler giovanna filmmaker bio
Producer

Giovanna Chesler

Producer Giovanna Chesler’s films address the body, sexuality, and gender. Her feature documentary Period: The End of Menstruation facilitated an international discussion on pharmaceuticals, women’s health, and gender construction and was covered in the The New York Times in 2007. Giovanna’s short documentaries and fiction films have screened at Show more juried film festivals worldwide. Awards include Honorable Mention in Fiction Filmmaking from the University Film and Video Association for Bye Bi Love and Best Student Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival for Beauteous: Stephanie. Her web television project Tune In HPV is a transmedia project connecting sexual health with entertainment. Giovanna is the Director of the Film and Video Studies Program at George Mason University and an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication there, teaching courses in documentary, community-engaged video activism, Fair Use practices, and transmedia for social change. She was selected as a Film Independent Fast Track fellow with Out in the Night. Show less

Producer

Yoruba Richen

Yoruba Richen is a 2012 Guggenheim fellow who has worked as a journalist and a documentary filmmaker in New York City. Her film Promised Land, a documentary about race, reconciliation, and land reform in post-apartheid South Africa, was broadcast on PBS’s POV in 2010. In 2007, Yoruba won a Fulbright award in filmmaking and traveled to Salvador, Brazil to Show more produce a documentary uncovering the origins of a festival celebrating the end of slavery. Before going to Brazil, Richen was a producer for the independent television and radio program Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, and was also associate producer in the investigative department of ABC News. In addition, she was co-producer of Take It From Me, a documentary exploring the effects of welfare reform on New York City women which was broadcast on POV. Her documentary The New Black, exposing the complicated histories of the African American and LGBT civil rights movements, airs on Independent Lens in 2014. Show less

Filmmaker site
Other ITVS Films
The New Black
Chandra mridu filmmaker bio
Producer

Mridu Chandra

Mridu Chandra has had her films exhibited at numerous international festivals and museums, including the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, the Kennedy Center, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights Film Program, and the World Social Forum 2004 in Mumbai, India. In addition to producing Let the Church Say Amen, a 2004 Sundance Official Show more Selection, she co-produced Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, a feature-length documentary portrait of the late civil rights and peace activist. A 2003 Sundance Official Selection, Brother Outsider has won numerous awards. A member of the CPB/WGBH Producers Academy, she has served as producer, associate producer and assistant editor on a variety of PBS productions in New York. Her writing appears in The Brooklyn Rail. She has a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and currently lives in Brooklyn. Show less

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The Film

Out in the Night follows Renata Hill, a young, gender non-conforming African American woman and mother to a young son, struggling to make ends meet in New Jersey.

On a warm August night in 2006, Hill and a group of six lesbian friends go out in the West Village, a gay-friendly neighborhood of New York City. On the street, a man makes an advance toward one of the women, but after realizing she is gay, he sexually and violently threatens her and the group. A short fight escalates as Renata and some of the women defend themselves while strangers on the street jump in to defend them. After the skirmish ends with injuries on both sides, police sweep the neighborhood, arresting Renata and her friends, charging them with serious crimes including gang assault and attempted murder.

Three women take a guilty plea, but four — including Renata — argue they fought in self-defense and are not a gang. As they await trial, they become known as the “New Jersey 4” by activists, while the media dubs them “Wolfpack” and “Gang of Killer Lesbians.” The trial becomes racialized and with gendered prejudice, as both the District Attorney and judge try to paint the women as a menacing gang instead of as friends on a night out. Renata and her friends are found guilty and receive unprecedentedly harsh sentences — 3 to 11 years — for a crime that in most cases would have been met with a fine and short prison sentence. Now in prison, separated from her son, Renata must begin a new fight — to maintain custody while dealing with painful memories that led her to that hot August night.

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