AUGUSTA — “Moonlight” tells the story of a gay black boy growing up in inner-city Miami facing physical and emotional abuse over his sexuality and identity. The independent film became the first LGBT movie to win the best picture Academy Award last week.

While an Oscar isn’t a realistic goal, the Family Violence Project hopes its upcoming short film highlighting domestic violence in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community leaves a similar impression.

“We made the connection that what’s happening at home is what’s happening in schools and what’s happenings in communities,” said Nancy Provost, an abuse prevention educator for the Family Violence Project and one of the film’s directors. “It all ties together in a cycle.”

The film, called “We See You,” is a mix of scripted dialogue and actors and regular people sharing their own experiences with domestic violence. Writer and co-director Carmen-Maria Mandley said the script was full of information for everyone to follow, but she also gave actors and the other people an opportunity to speak.

“What we got was illuminating and desperately vulnerable information from a lot of people who within their own families and their homes have experienced this and have never known where to go,” Mandley said. “We didn’t anticipate just how much information we were going to get.”

Mandley said she gave Christina Hallowell, the film’s editor, over 80 hours of footage that she is in the final stage of cutting up and piecing together. When the film is completed, Hallowell said, it will probably be 30 to 35 minutes long.

The Augusta-based Family Violence Project was awarded a $5,000 grant in September 2015 from the Jane Costello Wellehan Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. Kelly Smith wrote the grant application and said they asked for the money for focus groups, school presentations and community events.

Smith said it took a lot of courage not only for people to tell their story, but also to do it on film.

“It truly heightened their awareness of domestic violence,” she said.

The actors and people who participated in the film come from all walks of life, gender identity and sexual orientation. There are straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender fluid, intersex, nonbinary, asexual, pansexual, white, black, Asian, Latino and mixed-race people speaking throughout the film.

“(Domestic violence) doesn’t limit itself to specific populations,” Smith said. “It impacts everybody.”

Mandley said her script was developed using a couple of different data sources, including national research and a study done by the Family Violence Project. Provost said the organization distributed surveys at pride parades and other community events last year and collected 131 completed responses.

Provost’s big goal for the film is for it to be featured the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference next year.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: jasonpafundiKJ

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