Recently, Jackson-area filmmaker Robbie Fisher's film, "A Mississippi Love Story," which follows the journey of couple Eddie and Justin Outlaw, won Best Direction at the New York Premiere Film Festival.
Fisher says she heard about the newly established festival through Huffington Post earlier this year. The festival, which is in its first year this year, had a special showcase for LGBT women and minority filmmakers.
Fisher, who is openly gay, says she thought the film would make a good fit for that showcase. She went to the festival in early April and says the audience there liked the film.
"On the last night I was there, there was a little award ceremony, so they awarded the film one of five awards for Best Direction," she says. "It was very exciting."
Fisher, a Greenville, Miss., native, has created films such as "Boogaloo and Eden: Sustaining the Sound," which is about the collaboration between musicians Boogaloo Ames and Eden Brent, and "The Gulf Island: Mississippi's Wilderness Shore" Before beginning to focus solely on filmmaking in 2008, Fisher was the state director for the Nature Conservancy. She is currently the president of the Crossroads Film Society.
Fisher got the idea for "A Mississippi Love Story" after she first met Eddie in 2013. After a friend introduced her to Outlaw, who was then living now-husband, Justin, they began talking about potential ideas for films, plays or TV shows.
She says the conversation with Eddie energized her.
"I went home and had in my mail a copy of the Washington Bar News, the legal journal they send to lawyers, and they had a story about cases that could be heard by the Supreme Court later that year, that spring," she says. "The cases had to do with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was sort of the big Supreme Court case the year before they came down with the same-sex marriage case. It was sort of groundwork going down the path toward marriage equality."
After reading the article about DOMA, she had the idea to make a film about Eddie and Justin, following them around against the backdrop of legal battles surrounding the act.
"A small film crew came together, and periodically followed Eddie and Justin before the court case came down and when it came down afterwards," she says.
They filmed the couple for about a year, and then the documentary took about six months to edit, she says. Fisher released the film in June 2014. Since then, the documentary has been in film festivals around the world. Over the years, the film has accrued awards such as a Jury Award at the Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Festival in Little Rock, Ark.
"I'm from Mississippi, a native Mississippian, and I choose to live here," Fisher says. "My profession, my calling, my art is to tell stories on film, and I believe that there are many different types of compelling stories. The desire for equality for all is one very compelling topic. There are other topics I've approached in my films, but I just think it's a really good opportunity for filmmakers here in Mississippi, as everywhere, to be inspired by compelling stories and stories told on film that can ... move people and really put a human face on different human conditions."
She says that it's even more vital to tell stories such as the Outlaws' in polarized times.
"It's important ... to tell those compelling stories that hopefully can bring people together, can foster good discussion, and maybe even move people to take action that they might not have taken before," she says.