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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | Nominated for the News & Documentary Emmy Award | Nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary | John E. O'Connor Film Award - American Historical Association | Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature - Frameline Film FestivalLGBTQ+ • LGBTQ+ History • U.S. History • Psychiatry • Mental Health • Activism & Social Movements • Social Justice • Human Rights • Civil Rights • Sexuality Studies • Diversity & Inclusion • Science, Reasoning & the Scientific Method
Date of Completion: 2020 | Run Time: 80 and 59 minutes | Language: English | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Directors: Patrick Sammon & Bennett Singer | Producers: Patrick Sammon, Bennett Singer, Mridu Chandra, & Lewanne Jones | Executive Producers: Sally Jo Fifer, Cole Rucker, Jeff Nalin, Andrew Tobias, Lois Vossen, & Mel Heifetz
CURED takes viewers inside the campaign that led to a pivotal yet largely unknown moment in the struggle for LGBTQ equality: the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Combining eyewitness testimony with newly unearthed archival footage, the film reveals how a small group of impassioned activists achieved this unexpected victory.
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Johnnie N. Gray, Technology Services Librarian, Christopher Newport University
"Essential viewing for understanding the history of how the field of psychiatry has evolved to accept sexuality on a spectrum. Suitable for high school and up. A highly accessible and well produced documentary."
"[A] lively presentation from beginning to end. Codirectors Singer and Sammon have done cinematic justice to a long-unheralded but all-important grassroots political victory in LGBT history. Highly recommended."
Dagmar Herzog, Distinguished Professor of History and Daniel Rose Faculty Scholar at The Graduate Center, City University of New York
"CURED is, to put it simply, a stupendous achievement. It will join Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Paragraph 175 (2000) and Jim Hubbard’s United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012) as one of the must-see definitive accounts of signal moments in LGBT history. Accessible to a broad variety of popular audiences, requiring no prior knowledge for viewers to be gripped and moved by the wonderful constellation of characters and the drive of the narrative, it is simultaneously filled with sharp insights and novel archival materials to amaze even the most knowledgeable of scholars or insiders. It is perfect also for classroom use: in psychology; in US social and political history, gender history, and history of medicine; in ethics classes for medical schools."
See full academic review
Chris Babits, Ph.D., Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and author of To Cure a Sinful Nation: A History of Conversion Therapy in the United States (forthcoming from University of Chicago Press)
“As a historian who has devoted the past six years to research on the topic of conversion therapy, I am in a unique position to attest to the scholarly and educational significance of what Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer have accomplished. The film is a fascinating analysis of one of the most important civil rights struggles of the post-World War II era. Patrick and Bennett offer a penetrating account of the homophobia that led the American Psychiatric Association to pathologize same-sex desires in the early 1950s. Additionally, they spotlight the years of activism that lesbian and gay rights activists like Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny led as they fought psychiatrists and psychologists who thought that homosexuals needed to be ‘cured.’”
Lillian Faderman, Professor Emerita at Fresno State University and author of The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle
“CURED is a wonderful film. It’s moving and compelling and it tells the story beautifully. It includes some truly remarkable footage and interviews. I especially love those shots of the beautiful, innocent-looking young gay people juxtaposed to the terrible things said about them. In short, I find this a remarkable film.”
Nishani Frazier, Associate Professor of American Studies and History at University of Kansas and co-editor of Freedom on My Mind: The Columbia Documentary History of the African American Experience
"Inspirational. A powerful narrative of resistance.”
Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry | Theodore K. Gideonse, Department of Health, Society & Behavior, Program in Public Health, University of California at Irvine
"As paradigm shifts go, the speed of the APA's turnabout is astonishing. In 80 minutes, Sammon and Singer show how it was done, and their use of the tools of film expands our understanding of the methods well-described in both academic and popular histories of the early gay rights movement. Cured belongs with those essential LGBT documentaries mentioned above [Before Stonewall and Word Is Out], and it will also likely prove to be an excellent tool for teaching the history and philosophies of science."
British Film Institute
"Astonishingly rich ... one of the best documentaries of this or any year."
Mathew Shurka, Co-Founder & Chief Strategist, Born Perfect
"As a survivor of conversion therapy, I was riveted by this untold story of our LGBTQ history, which is one that everyone should know. This incredible film highlights the hidden heroes and activists who had the courage to lead at a time when it was not clear whether anyone would follow, and who fought so hard to eradicate the lie that LGBTQ people are mentally unstable and must be ‘cured.’ This is not just a brilliantly told story; it is a call to honor our legacy of activism and empowerment by continuing the fight to end conversion therapy once and for all.”
Charles Francis, President, Mattachine Society of Washington, DC
“Too often, LGBTQ film projects erase seniors who lack celebrity, much less octogenarians wearing old-school jackets, pocket hankies, chains and adornments —from reformer/psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Hartmann to the African-American activist Rev. Magora Kennedy. ‘Discovering’ and interviewing these invisible heroes — people who helped free millions from the diagnosis of ‘mental illness’ — will be an enduring legacy of this film.”
Eric Marcus, founder and host of Making Gay History podcast
“CURED sweeps us back in time to reveal how homosexuals cured psychiatry of its anti-gay dogma. It’s an epic human drama made all the more powerful by capturing the voices of the people who were there a half-century ago and changed the course of history.”
Jessica Green, Artistic Director, Houston Cinema Arts Society
“CURED is a master class in consciousness-raising, coalition-building, grassroots activism, and self-determination. This is thrilling non-fiction filmmaking and must-see viewing for activists of every generation."
The Hollywood Reporter
“Fascinating doc about doctors who took too long to heal themselves… Scintillates… So many vibrant and articulate participants [recall] their part in a battle that did a great deal to change longstanding (and not yet extinct) prejudices.”
Bay Area Reporter
“Suspenseful and furnishing a slam-dunk case about the landmark importance of this event, CURED is probably the best LGBTQ documentary of the year.”
The Queer Review
“Riveting …deserves its place alongside other seminal documentaries such as How to Survive a Plague, The Celluloid Closet, Before Stonewall and The Times of Harvey Milk.”
“[A] striking documentary. One of the five best LGBTQ+ films we watched [at Outfest].”
The Georgia Straight
“Both illuminating and engaging, it’s a timely opportunity to reflect upon a historical context for present-day struggles to ban conversion therapy and to address ongoing transphobia—a measure of how far social change can progress and yet how long-lasting impacts can also stubbornly and inexplicably resist them.”
The Moveable Fest
“Energizing [and] absorbing… Sammon and Singer have captured something mighty."
EDGE Media Market
“Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer’s taut, informative 80-minute documentary CURED illuminates the hidden history of how LGBTQ activists fought to remove the classification that being gay was a disease.”
“Eye-opening… A strong, timely testament to the power of persistence and righteous anger to effect change.”
“Featuring interviews with queer activists next to survivors of electroshock conversion therapy, the film is uplifting despite its subject material, showing how resilience and persistence has always been at the heart of the ongoing LGBTQ+ Rights Movement."
BBC News Interview with Filmmaker
"Until 1973 the American Psychiatric Association defined being gay as having a mental illness. A new documentary recalls the struggle to change a definition which for years limited the rights of LGBT people in the US. But the film's makers say the fight for equality was part of a bigger battle which continues today."
Neel Burton, M.D. | Psychology Today
"The early successes of the gay liberation movement are not ancient history but well within living memory ... Some important battles have been won but the war is far from over, and this documentary is good ammunition."
"'Cured' tells the story of how a relatively small number of courageous gay activists got the “gays are sick” notion struck from the manual –a pivotal moment in the gay liberation movement."
The Body Filmmaker Interview
"Cured is a must-see for anyone who is curious about how activists fought and won against a powerful institution and not only changed LGBTQ people’s perception of themselves, but changed society as a whole. Cured reminds us all that justice is possible and that the fight must continue for all to be truly free."
John E. O'Connor Film Award | American Historical Association
Audiovisual & Film Award | American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists
Audience Award for Documentary Feature | NewFest: The New York LGBT Film Festival
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature | Frameline 44 Film Festival
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature | ImageOut: The Rochester LGBT Film Festival
Jury Award & Best Documentary | OUT at the Movies International Film Festival
2nd Place Winner | Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film
Jonathan Daniels Award | Monadnock International Film Festival
Nomination - Outstanding Research: Documentary | News & Documentary Emmy® Awards
Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media | Austen Riggs Center
Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival
OUTSHINE LGBTQ Film Festival
FIN Atlantic International Film Festival
Out on Film Atlanta Film Festival
Vancouver International Film Festival
Out Film CT
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Way Out West Film Festival
Seattle Queer Film Festival
OutWatch Film Festival
Desperado LGBTQ Film Festival
Bright Lights Film Series
St. Louis International Film Festival
Cinema Diverse: The Gay and Lesbian Film Festival of Palm Springs
Festival MIX Brasil
Houston Cinema Arts Festival
image+nation: Montréal International LGBT Film Festival
CUFF.docs Calgary's Documentary Festival
Queer Screen's 28th Mardi Gras Film Festival
Human International Documentary Film Festival Oslo
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH FILMMAKERS PATRICK SAMMON AND/OR BENNETT SINGER
Co-Directors & Co-Producers of CURED
Patrick Sammon has a mix of experience in filmmaking, broadcast journalism, and LGBTQ political advocacy. He is the President of Story Center Films in Washington, DC. He’s the co-director and co-producer, with Bennett Singer, of CURED, which he conceived. The award-winning documentary has been optioned by 20th Century Television as the basis for a limited scripted series on FX or Hulu. Steven Canals, the co-creator of Pose, is writing and executive producing the series; Sammon and Singer are serving as producers of the project.
Before CURED, Sammon was the Creator and Executive Producer of CODEBREAKER, a “superb” (The Telegraph) and “imaginative” (Sunday Times) award-winning drama-documentary that “artfully explored” (The Mail) the life and legacy of Alan Turing, one of the 20th century’s most important people. Turing helped win World War II through his codebreaking and laid the intellectual foundation for the computer age. Instead of being celebrated, however, he faced brutal persecution from the British government because he was gay. More details about CODEBREAKER can be found at TuringFilm.com.
Sammon turned his idea for CODEBREAKER into a highly acclaimed film that has reached all corners of the globe. He put together an award-winning international production team (including Great Britain-based Furnace Ltd.), secured financing, and helped oversee both the business and creative side of the production. Sammon also developed and implemented a creative and comprehensive grassroots distribution strategy for CODEBREAKER, combining traditional distribution channels with a unique outreach campaign to connect with the target audience. More than three million viewers around the world have seen the film through television broadcasts (including a worldwide premiere on Channel 4 in the UK and a US premiere on Discovery Science), a 12-city U.S. theatrical release, film festivals, digital outlets (including Netflix and iTunes), DVDs, and more than 250 non-theatrical screenings.
Sammon also participated in more than 125 speaking events at CODEBREAKER screenings hosted by universities, community groups, professional organizations, government agencies, corporations, and law firms. He’s an experienced public speaker with a wide range of knowledge about filmmaking, LGBTQ history, and the ongoing fight for equality. Among other venues, he has spoken at The British Museum, the US National Archives, the Organization of American States, the FBI, the National Press Club, the National Science Foundation, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Purdue, Duke, and NYU. Corporate speaking hosts have included, among others, EY, PwC, Bloomberg LP, Goldman Sachs, Moody’s, Microsoft, Intel, Google, Kraft, Pfizer, and Ingersoll Rand.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Sammon started his career as an award-winning television news reporter at CBS affiliates in Northern New York and Northeast Tennessee.
Bennett Singer has been making social-issue documentaries for more than 20 years. With Patrick Sammon, he is the co-producer and co-director of CURED, an award-winning documentary slated for national broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens series in the fall of 2021. The film has been optioned by 20th Century Television as the basis for a limited series on FX or Hulu. Steven Canals, the co-creator of Pose, is writing and executive producing the series; Singer and Sammon are serving as producers.
Singer began his career at Blackside, Inc., where he was an associate producer of Eyes on the Prize II, the Emmy-winning PBS series on civil rights history, and a member of Blackside’s publishing team. He went on to co-direct Brother Outsider, a “potent and persuasive” (Los Angeles Times) biography of the gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. The film premiered at Sundance, aired nationally on PBS, and won more than 20 awards (www.brotheroutsider.org). He also co-directed Electoral Dysfunction, a “frightening and enlightening” (WBEZ Radio) documentary about voting in America. Hosted by political humorist Mo Rocca, the film had a dual premiere at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, aired nationally on PBS, and was featured in a four-part New York Times Op-Docs series. A Classroom Edition was distributed to more than 20,000 history and social studies teachers (www.electoraldysfunction.org).
For eight years, Singer served as Executive Editor of TIME Magazine’s Education Program, where he created teaching materials to accompany The Laramie Project, Band of Brothers, Iron Jawed Angels, and Unchained Memories. He is the author or editor of five books, including 42 Up (the companion volume to Michael Apted’s documentary series) and LGBTQ Stats, an “indispensable” (Booklist, starred review) reference work that Singer co-authored with his husband, David Deschamps (www.lgbtqstats.org).
Singer has spoken at The United Nations, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, The British Museum, The Library of Congress, The Schomburg Center, and at dozens of colleges and universities, including NYU, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the University of Lynchburg, Middlebury, and Emerson. In 2015, he delivered the keynote address at the city of Bloomington, Indiana’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.
Singer is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College; his senior thesis won a Hoopes Prize, Harvard’s highest undergraduate award for research and writing. He developed and taught a course on LGBTQ literature at Tufts and is the recipient of the 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Residency for Collaborative Teams at Yaddo. He divides his time between New York and Los Angeles.
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH STORYTELLERS FROM CURED
Upon request, the speakers below can attend virtual Q&A events with filmmakers Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer.
Gary Alinder (Bay Area) – As a young activist and Gay Liberation Front member living in the Bay Area, Alinder was part of a group of protesters who invaded the APA’s 1970 convention at the San Francisco Civic Center.
Rev. Magora Kennedy (New York City) – In the early 1950s, Magora Kennedy faced a stark choice after her mother discovered that Magora was interested in girls: get married or be institutionalized. Kennedy chose to get married—at 14. She later got involved in the women’s movement, the civil rights movement (including as a member of the Black Panther Party), and the Gay Liberation movement. Kennedy participated in the Stonewall uprising and was one of seven open lesbians who appeared on The David Susskind Show in 1971, arguing that the medical establishment had “made a mistake” with its mental-illness label for homosexuality. She is featured in the new exhibition “Not Another Second,” which tells the stories of twelve LGBT elders who lost decades in the closet. Read a 2021 New York Times article on this groundbreaking exhibit.
Don Kilhefner (Los Angeles) – Kilhefner played a leading role in the protest that took place at a conference on aversion therapy at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles in October 1970. This event was filmed and is an essential scene in CURED. The co-founder of the Los Angeles Community Services Center, Kilhefner continues his work as a community organizer and Jungian psychotherapist in Los Angeles.
Dr. Richard Pillard (Boston) – Pillard was a gay psychiatrist, based in Boston, who advised Dr. Lawrence Hartmann as he worked to persuade the New England branch of the APA to pass a resolution asking the APA to change the DSM classification of homosexuality. He was the country’s first openly gay psychiatrist.
Dr. Charles Silverstein (New York City) – Charles Silverstein spent seven years in thrice-weekly therapy sessions, hoping to “cure” his attraction to men and safeguard his job as a public-school teacher. He eventually became a Gay Liberation activist and psychologist. In 1973, he was invited to make a scientific case for changing the DSM to the APA’s Nomenclature Committee and was featured on an episode of 60 Minutes that examined the DSM debate. Co-author of The Joy of Gay Sex, Silverstein continues his work as a psychotherapist in New York City.