Recent Comments

    Continue Debra Chasnoff’s Legacy

    Debra Chasnoff








    With her huge heart and keen intelligence, Debra Chasnoff (1957–2017) touched the lives of vast numbers of people through her fierce commitment to effecting social change with media. Her filmography includes some of the most influential LGBT and social justice-related documentaries ever made. The following is just a partial list:

    • Choosing Children (1984) Director/Producer/Editor
    • Deadly Deception—General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and Our Environment (1991) Director/Producer
    • It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School (1996) Director/Producer
    • Homes and Hands—Community Land Trusts in Action (1998) Co-Director
    • Wired for What? (1999) Director/Producer
    • That’s a Family! (2000) Director/Producer
    • Let’s Get Real (2003) Director/Producer
    • One Wedding and a Revolution (2004) Director/Producer
    • It’s STILL Elementary (2007) Director/Producer
    • Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up (2009) Director/Producer
    • Celebrating the Life of Del Martin (2011) Director/Producer
    • A Foot in the Door (2012) Director/Producer

    Deadly Deception, which uncovered health and environmental side effects caused by the production of nuclear materials, won an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary. Many of us will never forget her historic speech during the ceremony. With her Oscar held aloft, she thanked her then life partner, making her the first lesbian ever to do so.

    We also remember her dedication to the community, her warmth and great sense of humor. She was a loyal friend to many, often supporting the subjects of her films both on and off camera.

    Many of you may not have known about her more than two-year long journey with breast cancer. Following her diagnosis in June 2015, she began documenting all facets of her experience. She envisioned a film that could help shape how people with cancer, their families, caregivers, healers, and medical practitioners approach life-changing diagnoses. She hoped to provide a powerful example of how to live fully in the face of an unknown prognosis. Central to Chasnoff’s and her wife Nancy Otto’s approach to dealing with cancer was an insistence that no one put a timeframe to her life expectancy. They offered the rest of us a breathtaking example.

    In honor of Chasnoff’s work and activism, her family and friends—many of whom are filmmakers and have been making this film with her since the beginning—are committed to seeing this project through. Hundreds of hours have been filmed and there is much research and development to be done. She entrusted Otto, Lidia Szajko, Joan Lefkowitz, Kate Stilley and Carrie Lozano to follow through with the film, which has the working title Prognosis.

    Please consider making a contribution via her production company GroundSpark: