Tom Murray was 90% finished with his seventh film when he died of a heart attack July 29, 2010. Prior to that, the 65-year-old local filmmaker had made one film per year since 2004.
“He always said he had a late start in life (making films),” says Vince Kielar, his partner of 37 years.
Now, four years later, his last film will make its debut with the help of Kielar, Magida Diouri, founder of The Fabulous Independent Film Festival, and documentary film producer Gaylon Emerzian.
“Queerituality” is the centerpiece film for the fourth annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival Saturday, Aug. 23. It’s a documentary that examines through interviews how members of the LGBT community find spirituality in their lives.
Murray had scheduled a screening of the film for a few of his friends for the week after he died; because of this, Kielar knew the footage existed. He called their friend in Chicago, Emerzian, who directs and produces documentary films. She edited the rest of the film.
Kielar also mentioned the film to Diouri, a friend who, as the former programmer for Sarasota Film Society, had screened Murray’s films. Diouri had known Murray was working on the film before he died, and she worked with Emerzian to include the film as the centerpiece of her festival.
“I’m so proud I can show it,” Diouri says.
Murray wrote, produced and directed all his films. Occasionally, he’d call Kielar into his office to show him footage — Kielar was always impressed how he could create films without training.
Murray paid the bills as a home inspector, but he always had an interest in films. When he was a young boy he made 8 mm films with his friends and family. And before he dropped out of college and went into the Peace Corps, he took a few courses in filmmaking. Other than that, he was self-taught.
His first film in 2004, “Farm Family,” examined gay life in rural America. It was a story with which Murray was familiar — he grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest. It was shown on the gay television channel LOGO TV for three years, and it won best feature length documentary at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
All of his films portrayed topics the LGBT community deals with: “Fish Can’t Fly” follows gay Christians on their journeys to try to become straight through Christian ministries; “Almost Myself” tells the stories of transgender persons; “Tell” examines the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy; “A Portable Tribe” talks to gay campers and vagabonds; and “Amancio” portrays the story of a male female impersonator who was murdered. Kielar says he always examined the topics at the right time, when they were on people’s minds.
“Queerituality” portrayed questions Murray dealt with himself.
“He was a good person, and he thought about spirituality a lot,” Kielar says of his late partner. “I think as he got older he thought about it more, you know? ‘What’s this all mean? How’s this going to affect me? How do I fit in?’”
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23. The festival runs Aug. 22 to Aug. 24.
Where: Burns Court Cinemas, 506 Burns Court
Cost: Tickets $8.50
Info: Visit FabulousIFF.com.