Mama Bears is a feature-length documentary that explores the many ways in which the lives of conservative, Christian mothers are impacted and utterly transformed when they decide to affirm and advocate on behalf of their LGBTQ children. As members of a private Facebook group—which they call the “mama bears” because of the fierceness with which its members fight for their offspring’s rights—they offer one another support and understanding in the struggle to overcome the teachings of their evangelical churches.
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Daresha Kyi: Director/Producer
Daresha writes, produces, and directs film and television in Spanish and English. In 2011 Daresha was executive producer of Emmy-winning writer Kevin Avery’s short comedy, Thugs The Musical starring Margaret Cho and David Alan Grier. In 2016 she produced a satirical take off on The Wiz called The Whizz starring an (almost) all-white cast for Fusion Comedy and the web series How Not to Pick Up Asian Women with Kristina Wong. In 2017 Daresha co-directed and co-produced the feature-length documentary, Chavela with Catherine Gund which won the 2nd place Panorama Audience Award at the Berlinale, Audience Awards at national and international festivals, as well as Jury Awards for Best Documentary and Best Director. Daresha also co-produced Dispatches from Cleveland for Aubin Pictures in 2017 and has produced television for FX, WE, AMC, Oxygen, E!, Telemundo, Bravo, and FUSE, among others. She was a 2017-18 fellow in the Firelight Media Documentary Lab. Earlier this year Daresha was hired by the ACLU to direct a short film about transgender rights which was screened at the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn and will be released online as one of a three-part series. Most recently Daresha was hired by the Family Independence Initiative to direct a series of mini documentaries about their work empowering families to escape poverty.
Laura Tatham: Producer
Since making the move to film production, Laura has worked on a number of social justice projects. She is currently co-producing Mama Bears and has previously served as the associate producer for two feature-length documentaries—Chavela (which had its world premiere at the 2017 Berlinale) and Dispatches from Cleveland (which partnered with Color of Change for their 2016 #Voting WhileBlack viral campaign). Laura also acted as the NYC production office manager for American, a series of narrative shorts. Originally hailing from the world of book publishing, Laura has spent nearly ten years in both the corporate (Simon & Schuster) and nonprofit (Feminist Press) publishing sectors, working on countless New York Times bestsellers, as well as Lambda Literary and Pulitzer Prize–winning works.
Amy Bench: Director of Photography
Amy is a cinematographer and filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. She has been twice nominated for the Kodak Excellence in Cinematography Award and has won grants from the Texas Filmmaker’s Production Fund, Women in Film/Dallas, and the Department of Education’s Jacob K. Davits Fellowship, and is a member of the Austin Contemporary’s multidisciplinary artist group The Crit Group. She lensed the feature films Loves Her Gun, which premiered at SXSW in 2013, and The Golden Rut, which premiered at the Austin Film Festival in 2016, and the short Bad at Dancing, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015. She is currently in pre-production on her third feature film, and was recently named a “DP on the Rise” by Paste magazine. Her work has screened worldwide, at festivals including Sundance, Berlin, New York, and MOMA/PS1.
Kimberly says she was “born a Republican"—one who believed it was her duty as a Southern Christian woman to show up and vote for the conservative party ticket. She bought wholesale into the church’s teachings that the "lifestyles" of LGBTQ people were a choice and that Satan “had ahold of them.” But everything changed the day she overheard her four-year-old son, who she had been punishing for insisting that he was a girl since the age of three, praying to die. This shook her to her core and she began to get educated. When she learned about gender dysphoria and discovered that 41 percent of transgender children attempt suicide due to bullying, social rejection, and depression, she became determined to accept and support her child at any cost. It’s been a long, sometimes painful journey, but Kimberly has become a fierce advocate for LGBTQ rights as she continues to fight for her child in the heart of Texas.
For months after her son Parker came out as gay, Sara lay in bed weeping, believing he was doomed to eternal damnation. After five long months, Parker said, “You know, Mom, I had to suck it up for twenty-one years to be your son. Now I need you to suck it up and be my mom." And that did it. Sara closely examined the Bible to come to terms with her new reality, and she could find no justification for the condemnation of homosexuality, so she left her church, officially “came out” in support of her son (losing friends and family members), and joined a mama bears group. When she saw the stats about how many LGBTQ people were rejected by their families, she and a posse of like-minded mama bears started marching in pride parades with a “Free Mom Hugs” banner. After Trump’s election, she took the banner on the road in a ten-city “Free Mom Hugs Tour.