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Dear Jesse (Col Dol)
Dear Jesse
Col Dol
Actor: Tim Kirkman; Jesse Helms; Matthew Shepard; Allan Gurganus
Director: Tim Kirkman
Genres: Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 23min

Equal parts road movie, political inquiry and person diary, Tim Kirkman's DEAR JESSE is the gay filmmaker's letter to notoriously anti-gay senator Jesse Helms (R-NC). Set against the backdrop of Helms' final senate camp...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Tim Kirkman; Jesse Helms; Matthew Shepard; Allan Gurganus
Director: Tim Kirkman
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Gay & Lesbian
Studio: Sovereign
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/30/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1998
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 23min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Mr. Kirkman's courageous road trip
James | Greenville, NC | 12/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here, now, a gay man addresses Senator No. And one might justifiably expect a hatchet job instead of Mr. Kirkman's elegant and restrained documentary. This piece makes its points quietly, allowing those interviewed by the director to examine what Jesse Helms has come to mean to them. The resulting portrait is all the more damning for the filmmaker's M.O. Helms, arguably one of the most powerful U.S. senators ever, is exposed, finally and conclusively, as a man whose political career has been marked by the most odious forms of scapegoating, and very little else: each of his campaigns has been driven by racist innuendo and overt homophobia, and his political stands are notable more for their brutality and condescension than for any meaningful legislation. Incalculably crafty and evil, Helms has spent his public life hiding behind a crude, jingoistic patriotism which is itself girded by a foul and decidedly cruel Old Testament religiosity. This Kirkman allows to unfold before us with a deft and singular craftsmanship. I recommend this film to anyone, but especially to those who know young, besieged gays and lesbians. Dear Jesse will tell them that, yes, there are forces (political, religious, etc.) that fear them; and, no, they are not, and never will be, alone."
From the eyes of a FIGHT-er.
James | 08/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"For awhile now, I've been involved in FIGHT (Free Inspire Guide Help Teach), which is a club against any type of discrimination (it just wouldn't all fit into the title.) And, one person I've been researching to the point of almost obsession, was Matthew Shepard. He was a 21 year old student at U of Wyoming, and was beaten to death by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, just because he was gay. I was searching sites about him, and I found that he was in this movie. So, I instantly became obsessed with getting a copy. I watched this film, which is basically a video-letter from a gay film maker to homophobic Senator, Jesse Helms. There are interviews and other interesting footage from around both his and Jesse's hometown, and you really learn a lot about how people viewed Jesse Helms. I found it all interesting, but didn't see anything of Matty Shepard. At the end, in a 'PS', he interviews students who attended lecture given by Senator Helms. The two students were Matthew Shepard, and his boyfriend. While watching this boy, who was only nineteen or twenty at the time, my blood ran cold, because this was the boy I had been fighting for. Who was shot down before he even got a chance to test his wings. As Tim said, all he had was those few minutes of footage of Matty. It's not enough. It's not fair. Only a few minutes of a boy who had hopes and dreams of helping people, and making a difference. I know that this review is more of Matty Shepard than 'Dear Jesse', but he played an incredibly important part, even if it was only less than ten minutes at the end of the film. Tim, the maker of this documentary seemed to be moved by his story, as am I. But, remember, this is coming from a fifteen year old, who still has the passion to keep FIGHT-ing. I haven't let myself become accustomed to going unheard. Tim Kirkman also wanted to be heard, he wanted Jesse Helms to understand that they were really the same, both men under the same god, from the same town, from similar families...and they both were thought to be 'evil, dangerous, and immoral.' Jesse Helms never replied."
No cheap shots
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 11/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Dear Jesse"

No Cheap Shots

Amos Lassen

Jesse Helms, just the name makes me shudder. He
has done more public and vocal tongue-lashing and condemning of the gay community than anyone since Anita Bryant. Representing North Carolina in the United States Congress, Jesse Helms has been a thorn in our sides for way too long.
Tim Kirkman from Monroe, North Carolina has created a movie about Helms and succeeds in proving that his bigotry is not reflective of the way people in North Carolina feel about us. He gives us a funny, thoughtful and humane film which becomes a transcendent experience. Kirkman never takes a cheap shot at Helms, unlike many of us would have done if we made a film like this. Kirkman makes it very clear how he, himself, feels about Helms and therefore his film cannot in any way be objective and what we get is something akin to a film by Michael Moore--a politically correct agenda which is, indeed, political. Kirkman found many kindred spirits to give his message strength and that includes Jesse Helms, the man, himself. We see Helms saying that if homosexuals would "stop what they're doing; there would not be one additional case of AIDS in the United States..." (Now that is a brilliant statement). Kirkman takes a good and hard in depth look at intolerance in America.
This film is not new. It was actually released in 1998 as was advertised as a documentary film about the political and personal parallels between the gay filmmaker and the notoriously anti-gay U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. It was shown on TV and was Emmy nominated and won several awards. It has just been released on DVD and it contains several important extras. There is an interview with Matthew Shepard whose murder called national attention to hate crimes.
It is hard to classify this film--it is political inquiry and personal diary as well as a road movie at times. Made up of interviews which are set against the last Senate campaign of Helms, the movie is an eye opener."
What a wonderful film!
Amos Lassen | 11/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"it's indeed a rare film that combines the personal and the political in such an emotionally powerful way, i'm so glad i saw DEAR JESSE. it's as much a story of the filmmaker's struggles for identity as it is an examination a major political figure. as the filmmaker is gay and he's focused his film on the notoriously homophobic senator jesse helms, one would assume there might be some overly subjective and even hostile treatment of helms. amazingly, the filmmaker is very even-handed. he talks to all sorts of north carolinians who have been positively and negatively affected by helms. ultimately the film works so well because it's about a fascinating character, the filmmaker himself, who is drawn convincingly as a sweet, vulnerable person trying to deal with the antagonism and prejudice that helms and his followers subject him to."