Posted September 23, 2009
The Idaho State University Janet C. Anderson Gender Resource Center and ISU Genesis Project, with generous support from the Idaho Humanities Council, will present the film “The Fall of ’55” and a discussion with its filmmaker, Seth Randal, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, in the College of Education Auditorium.
The film tells the story of a seldom-discussed chapter in Boise’s history, according to Randal. In late 1955 and early 1956, investigators in Boise arrested men on charges of having sex with teenage boys, saying hundreds of boys were being abused as part of a child sex ring. There was no such ring, but the result was a widespread investigation, which some people considered a witch hunt, according to the filmmaker.
By the time the investigation ended, 16 men were charged and countless other lives were also touched. The “Boys of Boise" investigation and so called “Morals Drive” attracted attention in newspapers across the country, leaving scars that remain to this day. In exploring this event, Randal said the documentary provides unique insights into 1950s America’s struggle with the issue of homosexuality and the prevailing myth that it was a cancer that could be spread to the youth.
Randal served as producer, writer and director for “The Fall of ’55.” A native Idahoan, he currently lives in Boise. He considers himself to be “a born storyteller” and is drawn to dramatic and emotionally compelling stories. He honed his craft during the past decade or so in print and broadcast journalism. “The Fall of ‘55” is Randal's first full-length documentary.
In the film, Randal uses varied and diverse viewpoints to paint a broader picture of this chapter in Boise’s history. Critical of documentary films that simply present one side of the story as the objective facts, Randal says that he has worked to represent multiple voices, questioning the idea that there is only one objective and correct depiction of history.
Of the film, he states, “I didn't simply set out to ‘re-hash’ or re-try these cases. Instead, I wanted to know more about what it was like to live in Boise at the time…to share the stories of the people whose lives continue to be touched by these events.”
The Anderson Center and the Genesis Project are sponsoring the talk and the showing of the film at ISU in recognition of National Coming Out Day, an internationally observed civil awareness day for discussion about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. First observed in 1987, the goal has been to facilitate LGBT and straight allies to live openly and talk about their support for equality at home, at work and in their communities.
The Anderson Center at Idaho State University serves as the focal point on campus for the consideration of gender issues.
“In our efforts, we are especially guided by the ideal of diversity which allows us to envision a future free of the limitations imposed by our culture's standard definitions of gender and other categories of difference,” said Rebecca Morrow, Anderson Center director.
For more information, contact the Anderson Center at (208) 282-2805.