Tag Archives: Unfit: Ward vs. Ward

2012 – Year in Review

Another year has come & gone, and another end of year list has been written. But before I continue I want to state my goals for 2013:

1. Write at least one review per week – last year this was easier said then done.

2. Use Monday to spotlight another blog, though it does not have to be film related.

3. Come up with a weekly feature–probably for Wednesdays and starting next week.

4. Improve on my stats from this year – link to 2012 stats at the bottom of this post.

That being said, let’s get back to 2012. All movie titles or images will link to the corresponding review.

Worst “Film” of the Year: Dreams of My Real Father

Worst Film of the Year Released in Theatres: Trouble With the Curve – I did not review this movie

Best Guilty Pleasure: John Carter

Best LGBT Films of 2012

5. Elliot Loves
4. Naked As We Came
3. North Sea, Texas
2. Tomboy
1. I Do

Best Documentaries






Best Films of 2012












(Honorable Mentions)




Annual Report


“UNFIT: Ward vs. Ward” – Movie Review – 2012 Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF)

Click on image to view trailer

Directors:  Edwin Scharlau, Katie Carmichael, and Penny Edmiston

Editor:  Walter J. Collins

Mary Ward is a devoted mother to her children and has primary custody of her youngest daughter Cassey.  John Ward is Cassey’s father and doesn’t know what school or grade she is in.  Mary Ward is three-times divorced and in a committed relationship with Marjorie.  John Ward has also been married three times and has just started his fourth marriage with Rita.  John Ward was not divorced three times; his first marriage ended in murder.  In his own cool words he describes how he arranged a meeting with his first wife, shot her three times, stood over her as she pleaded for her life, shot her three more times, reloaded, and shot her again six more times.  In 1995, Judge Tarbuck in Pensacola, Florida, deemed Mary Ward unfit to raise Cassey.  He awarded custody to John Ward even though he was behind in child support and had only spent at most four continuous days with her in the past five years at any one time.  Judge Tarbuck’s only reason, “I want to give this child a chance to grow-up in a non-lesbian world.”

Mary, who defined herself by being a good mother, was crushed.  Though she was aided by multiple legal organizations during the appeal, she lost.  Due to the mounting stress & depression from her continuing legal battles, she died from a heart attack at forty-seven.  John, with Mary’s inheritance, moved Cassey to her own trailer.  There she quickly became pregnant and dropped-out of school before her eighteenth birthday.

When deciding custody of children, judges are meant to look after the “best interest of the child”.  Mary’s other children became a police officer, a social worker, a businesswomen.  Cassey became a drop-out and teenage mother.  Whose “best interest” was served when John was given custody?  Cassey’s or the judge’s prejudice?

UNFIT:  Ward vs. Ward is a well-crafted documentary that overcomes many obstacles:  very few archival Mary Ward interviews, lack of cooperation from John Ward and the judges who ruled in his favor, and a heavy dependence on talking-head interviews.  Through current day interviews with her children, friends, and partner, as well as old family photos & video, Mary Ward is shown to be a loving and caring parent and a person that you identify with.  John Ward and the judges stories are presented through archival news footage and television appearances on the Geraldo Show and Good Morning America, as well as an interview with Ted Stokes–his attorney during the custody case.  Talking-head interviews are intercut with visuals and accompanied with pertinent music & songs.

The documentary is also well paced, never feeling overlong.  Throughout the film, you learn & care more about the people involved and the aftermath of Judge Tarbuck’s decision in their lives.  Also, as the film moves forward you begin to wonder what happened to Cassey – where is she? why haven’t we heard from her yet?  And then she is revealed; releasing our tension and curiosity about her side of the story.  The directors and editor also introduce a bit of levity to an otherwise somber film by demonstrating some of the ridiculous observations used during the court case against Mary:  such as Cassey preferring the smell of Brut, a men’s cologne, over a perfume.

Leaving the documentary you feel shocked this actually happened.  You feel angry that someone abused their position of power to inflict their prejudice onto the “best interest” of the child.  And more importantly, you leave feeling something needs to be done so this does not happen again.

Grade = A

2012 Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF) – What I am going to.

Click on image to visit website

The Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival starts Friday, and I will be attending quite a few films.  I am Co-Chair of the Program Committee and we did a great job of putting together a really strong program.  It’s always interesting with group dynamics and what people do and do not like.  I am also especially proud that my husband has his world premiere for his documentary, Unfit:  Ward vs. Ward, at the festival–I recused myself from any discussion of its acceptance.  Even prouder that he will be in Boston in May and another festival–they have not released their program–after.

Below are the films we will definitely by attending, and a few I am going to try my best to make:

April 27th, Opening Night


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April 29th

Seventh Gay-Adventists

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Men to Kiss

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April 30th

Unfit:  Ward vs. Ward

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May 2nd, Centerpiece

Naked As We Came

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May 3rd

Men’s Shorts Program

Click on image to see entire shorts program listing

I will take full credit for the Shorts Program, and I am especially curious to see how one short in particular will do with the crowd.

May 4th

Elliot Loves

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May 5th, Closing

North Sea, Texas

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May 6th

Jobriath A.D.

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That’s nine definite “Yes” viewings.  Below are others I am going to try my best to make:

The Adored

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Mosquita y Mari

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MGLFF also shows at excellent venues:  The Colony Theatre, Regal South Beach, Miami Beach Cinematheque, Coral Gables Art Cinema, The Wolfsonian, and the Miami Beach Convention Center