Documented by pioneering filmmakers Rob Epstein (The Times of Harvey Milk, 1984), Frances Reid (In the Best Interests of the Children, 1977), Greta Schiller (Before Stonewall, 1984) and Lucy Winer (Rate It X, 1986), the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights was a historic event that took place on Sunday, October 14, 1979. With interviews featuring diverse participants and spectators gathered at the nation’s capital, the consortium of queer filmmakers skillfully capture the hopeful and peaceful activism of this community, mirroring past movements grounded in non-violent action.
Opening with a 20-year-old Black man from D.C. who had been out for five years at the time, the film holds space for a self-assured joy that is emblematic of the numerous empowered LGBTQ+ constituents in attendance. Everyone on screen appears to be fulfilling their need to be visible as themselves and live openly. This celebratory activism honors the pioneering predecessors who paved the way for LGBTQ+ equal rights while capturing a poignant moment in time before the onset of the AIDS epidemic.
Largely unseen in recent decades, Greetings from Washington, D.C. is ready for rediscovery as we witness legislation intended to curb the rights of the queer community. With the support of the Archive, Outfest and its supporters have secured resources to develop important high school curriculum utilizing the restoration to support LGBTQ+ rights education, giving the film a new meaning for generations to come.
—Jonathan Fahn and May Hong HaDuong
Color, 28 min. Production: Greetings Films. Distribution: Iris Films, Wildlight Productions, Inc. Producers: Robert Epstein, Frances Reid, Greta, Schiller, Lucy Winer. Director: Lucy Winer. Cinematographers: Frances Reid, Greta Schiller, Lucy Winer.
Digitally restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. Laboratory services provided by Metropolis Post, Audio Mechanics. Special thanks to Lucy Winer, Francis Reid, Rob Epstein, Debra Zimmerman, Dennis Doros.