Tribeca Film Festival: “Building a Bridge” Review

96 minutes | USA | 2021

Section: Viewpoints (World Premiere)
Directors: Evan Mascagni, Shannon Post
Editors: Michal Labik, Ellen Knechel
Cinematographer: Nick Capezzera
Composer: Teddy Abrams, Nathan Farrington 
Producers: Evan Mascagni, Shannon Post, Nick Capezzera
Executive Producers: Martin Scorsese, James O’Donnell, Brian Hull, Laura Hull, Mark McDermott, Yuval David

Jesuit priest James Martin of New York City asks, “What does it mean to be a LGBTQ Catholic?” This film seeks to answer this question. On one hand, it’s clear that the Catholic church condemns violence toward gays, but on the other, they say that people should not be surprised when it happens. In addition, priests cannot bless same-sex unions.

It blows my mind that gays would want to be a part of the Catholic church, much in the way that it blows my mind that anyone in the LGBTQ+ community would want to eat at Chick-fil-A. So, how do members of the LGBT community live out their faith if they’re Catholic?  In some places like New York, it is a much more welcoming environment. James Martin tells people that “the onus of the bridge building” is on the church and “God loves you and your church is learning to love you.”

Martin, of course, has received extreme opposition from other Catholics and his superiors have not authorized him to go to any pride parades. Martin also talks about how issues of celibacy, homosexuality, women’s ordination, pedophilia, and sexual abuse are all lumped together. He says, “People have no clue what they’re talking about.”

Martin’s focus is reaching out to people like Christine Leinonen, an activist whose son was killed in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in 2016. He also works with groups like Out in St. Paul. Out ministry team member Marianne Palacios tells us, “God knows me and loves me and made me a gay, Catholic woman.”

Co-director Evan Mascagni is from Kentucky; he’s starting an impact campaign to bring this documentary to Catholic churches and schools in more rural areas in order to share Father Martin’s message of love and hope. Mascagni also notes that Martin Scorsese heard that he and co-director Shannon Post were following Father Martin around and came onboard as an executive producer to provide creative feedback.

In addition, I’d like to recommend the narrative film, Prayers for Bobby, if you’re looking for more films that intersect faith with the LGBT community. It really helped me personally and gave me the courage to come out while still retaining my personal belief in God.

Rating: 9/10

Vegan points:
Shows James Martin cultivating his garden

Vegan alert:
-Hamburgers on grill
-Dog kept in a cage by anti-gay Catholic activist

Article was written by Allison McCulloch. Follow her Twitter.

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