In October 1998, 21 year-old Mathew Shepard was found savagely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming. "The Laramie Project" is the portrait of a town painfully forced to confront itself in the reflective glare of the national spotlight, responding with love, anger, sympathy, support and defiance.
Even though The Laramie Project has been edited down from almost three hours (the original length of the play) to a lean 96 minutes, the harrowing nature of the subject matter--the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard--and the clarity of the voices of the inhabitants of Laramie, Wyoming, give this film a remarkable emotional power. The Laramie Project was created from over 200 interviews conducted with Laramie residents before, during, and after the trials of the two boys who killed Shepard; the interviews create an amazing cross-section of American views on homosexuality, religion, class, privacy, and so much more besides. Even though it features an all-star cast--Steve Buscemi, Janeane Garofalo, Christina Ricci, Peter Fonda, and Laura Linney are only a few of the recognizable faces--the material has not been glamorized and the performances are both honest and intimate. Even abbreviated, it's a remarkable piece of work. --Bret Fetzer